by Alicia Costa
The second season of the HBO hit show Girls is barely off the ground and writer/executive producer/director/actress Lena Dunham is already been raked over the coals for her creative decisions for this season.
Girls, the brainchild of Dunham and comedy-gem maker Judd Apatow, has been widely written about since its debut last year. The premise of the show revolves around four white and seemingly wealthy 20-something women living in New York City.
The first season of Girls was widely criticized for the lack of racial diversity in the casting. Dunham stated it was unintentional and agreed that the casting choices were not reflective of the racially and culturally diverse New York City. So, in the second season African American actor/comedian Donald Glover was cast as Hannah Horvath (Dunham)’s new beau and this was met with mixed reviews. Most critics claimed that by casting Glover in a main role she was using him as the “token” minority in an attempt to make the show appear more diverse.
“… I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, ‘I hear this and I want to respond to it.’ And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can’t speak to accurately.” (Shalomlife.com)
Dunham stated that the decision to cast Glover was made before critics lambasted the casting of the first season and was due more to the fact he’s a brilliant comedian than about him being black. In my opinion critics claiming that Glover’s whole role was written only to add colour to the cast greatly diminish how well written and smart the character of Sandy the hot Republican (Glover) was in the storyline of Girls.
However, Dunham has received the most amount of criticism over her body. She has the audacity to be naked and sexual AND not look how everyone expects actresses to look naked. She is not afraid to act out her own sex scenes and own her body.
Recently, the ever charming Howard Stern said Dunham is, “A little fat chick” and that seeing her naked on the show “feels like rape”.
Personally I like seeing Dunham naked. She is not fat. She is completely average. She looks like a lot of women. She realistically represents a lot of women’s body types. So can we stop talking about how she is a grotesque exhibitionist? What ground is she breaking here? That slightly chubby women are sexual and can get boyfriends?
I hate to pop your bubble, but chubby and fat women have lovers and boyfriends and husbands and anything else they want. Sex isn’t just a club for the pretty skinny people. The more we build up Dunham’s average body to something obscene the more we are reinforcing that all women should look a certain way or else they are unworthy of love and success.
There are parts of the show and the writing which are problematic. There is a lack of diversity (hey – why don’t you cast an actual fat person in the show?), white middle class privilege is never accurately addressed, and no one seems to really work or really struggle. However, Dunham is attempting to address some very real issues a lot of women face in their lives (abortion, STDs, career, money, independence, body issues, emotional eating, and sexuality) and for that she should be commended.
I think most the appeal of Girls lays in its reliability within the 20-something demographic. And while I disagree with the women who are all, OMG THAT IS SOOOOOO MY LIFE (chances are your life is NOT like the show at all that because you probably have to work and junk), I believe Dunham does a good job of appealing and connecting to young women in a real way. Chances are most of us have had an “Adam” (Hannah’s emotionally broken love interest in the first season) who treats your heart like it is “monkey meat” and makes crazy. I know I have.
Despite the fact Dunham comes from a wealthy background and has majorly successful and well-connected parents I just can’t bring myself to not support a woman writing, producing, and starring in a mainstream TV show.