I’ve had several folks write in to ask what I think of Lena Dunham’s show, Girls, on HBO. Well, I didn’t want to give an opinion until I watched the show and did a little more research.
So I did. And it’s fucking terrible – and not even in an good way. Dunham was called out by several people of color for the show’s lack of diversity and generally self-indulgent characters. Well, those folks are right – it may as well be called White Wine Problems.
Frankly, I was already over Girls when another writer, Lesley Arfin, tweeted a response to criticism by a Black female writer who wrote she tried to like the show, but she didn’t see herself or even NYC’s multiculturalism represented. At all.
Arfin replied that the biggest problem with the movie Precious is that she didn’t see women like herself represented. I know she meant it as a joke, but fucking really?
After watching the show, I get it. Dunham really means that she writes what she knows. And that’s a world of white privilege. Her characters will never be stopped and frisked for no reason. If they are, it’ll be labeled as ironic and uncomfortable, but haha, who cares? Let’s fuck and listen to indie music because we got some real problems.
Dunham, Arfin, and girls like her were represented in that movie, and many others like it. They were present in the systemic oppression of people of color and the consequences thereof.
Hannah (Dunham’s character) whines when her parents cut her off, and steals the money they leave for the maid. This is supposed to be funny or charming or anything but just sickening. If Hannah were not white, it’s unlikely her parents would have much to cut her off from, seeing as non-white families statistically have a fraction of the net worth of white families. There are a multitude of doors open to Hannah and her ilk simply by virtue of their whiteness, which would never exist for a person of color.
The most maddening part about Hannah is that she just doesn’t want to get a job or look for a job. Basically, she’s the stereotype the GOP points to when they need to talk about lazy GenY-ers needing to get their funding cut for college, health care, etc.
In light of the show’s obstinate obliviousness to race, gender, and sexuality, maybe it’s considerate that her characters are straight, white, privileged women. After all, any character outside of what Dunham knows is likely to receive the one-dimensional treatment of a writer who sticks with what they know versus venturing outside their comfort zone. This IS the show that put out casting notices seeking “ethnic” women to do accents and play nannies. Because that character is totally new, amirite? Stereotypes are a real time-saver!
And God only knows, there’s enough of that kind of bullshit in the media.