Gay Girls on “Girls”


Dara Nai: Whenever TV is criticized for a lack of diversity, the solution is almost always to add a black person to the cast — and thank god. Black people are so underrepresented in entertainment. And who knows? Maybe they’ll give him an Asian girlfriend, like all the patient couples on Grey’s Anatomy, where it’s black/Asian couples, all day long, just like real life.

Jill Guccini: But we bitched about all those things about The L Word, too, because they were valid. Like The L Word was SO BAD, you guys. Haha, I mean, I love it, but acknowledge the whole time how bad it is/was. Why can’t we criticize Girls, too? I feel like it’s the whole THIS IS THE BEST SHOW EVER thing that bothers me.

To be honest, I also have a hard time with Mad Men because Don Draper is such a douche with no redeeming qualities. I find that hard to watch, too. Whereas Omar Little, Riggins, etc. and other antiheroes (male or not) have some other force in society that is causing them to be the way they are, which is what really makes them fascinating and sympathetic characters. If you have no real reason to be an asshole — even that Breaking Bad jerk face has cancer — I don’t have interest in you.

And including a black character JUST to say “Fuck you people who think I can’t include black people” doesn’t feel very organic to me. I don’t mean this to be antagonistic; the reason I get so riled up about it is because I WANT to support female run media, and I think Dunham is crazy talented, so I WANT to like her. But I also feel like it’s also important to be able to criticize.

Ali Davis: Somewhere Ilene Chaiken is writing us all cancer.

Grace Chu: “When a show about women, written by women, performed by women, produced by women, edited by women, and directed by women comes along and doesn’t resonate with our own life experiences, we have a tendency to get incandescent with rage.”

My objection to Girls is that it does remind me of a time where I crossed paths with the type of narcissistic poorly socialized and just plain obnoxious trust fund hipsters portrayed on the show. I have no objections to dunham; I think what she has accomplished is amazing. I have no objections to the fact that she is writing from a narrow perspective. I simply cannot sit through a show that portrays the very type of people I dislike in real life (please stay in Williamsburg and Greenpoint and never come to the Upper West Side kthx) and managed to excise from my environment when i was a 20-something in NYC. I’m old. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Furthermore, Dunham is being hailed as the voice of her generation, which is ridiculous. She’s talented, but the voice of the millenials? If so, may the odds be ever in their favor.

Dorothy Snarker: This Girls discussion is so zeitgeisty. I love it. I’m on the LOVE Girls side, but I understand criticism of it — particularly around race. And I agree with Heather that because of the underrepresentation of women and of women-created media we tend to ask for the impossible for it when it finally appears. Girls is not meant to be all things to all people. Girls is what it is. A look at some narcissistic, entitled, unfocused yet ultimately very real girls who are nowhere close to having their shit together. I think it’s fascinating, but then I feel enough buffer from the fumbling days of my early 20s to be able to look back without flinching. I don’t think Dunham is hailing herself as The Voice of Her Generation. But I think she’s laying bare the mindset of some in that generation who think they just might be.

Trish Bendix: I am pro being critical, or sassy in general! But I just think it’s so interesting how we focus on this one show because she’s a woman and she’s supposed to be telling our stories — which Ilene Chaiken totally claimed to do. (Re: L Word, there were some episodes and things I liked about it, so I am not on the side of “THE L WORD WAS TERRIBLE ALTOGETHER.”) I watch Girls like I watch anything else — “I loved that. I hated that. That was meh. That was OK.” I’m glad it exists and that we’re having these conversations but sometimes it’s so exhausting to hate a show for what it isn’t rather than enjoy it for what it is.

Heather Hogan: Oh my God, Trish, I think you just explained why I feel like I’ve been beaten with a shovel every time I finish a Glee recap!

Trish Bendix: With a song in your heart!

Jill Guccini: Fair enough! I do feel like it’s slightly unfair to say people who don’t like Dunham or the show are doing so just because (or rather, especially because) she’s a woman. I’m an equal opportunity criticizer! That said, there is something about wanting a group that you feel strongly about/belong to/care deeply about (i.e. women) to do it right that I’m guilty of. But I think it has to do with wanting to support that thing SO badly, as opposed to jumping on any chance to criticize it, even if love’s fatal flaw is that it may often seem like the latter.

Marcie Bianco: I think Snarker was spot on, too. As for the “privilege” — what — critique? That’s absolute rubbish and a total illogical and random way to criticize a piece of entertainment or an artist. Like, if I grew up with two NYC artists parents who had inroads to a bazillion opportunities, I’d be the laziest fuck in the world if i didn’t capitalize on them. And, final note: Why is it that the BIGGEST criticism comes from white girls who’ve not watched or rarely have watched the show? FACEPLANT. And Grace, I am officially inviting you to watch the next ep with me.

Punky Starshine: So many people have been unable to explain to me why they like Girls beyond “It’s so good!” so it was nice to hear logical reasons for why people enjoy it so much. I still stand by my statement that it’s a well-written show with characters I despise, but not in a “I don’t care about anyone on this show” way, but in a “OMG YOU FRUSTRATE THE HELL OUT OF ME” way. I don’t know that I’ve resolved anything in regards to my feelings about this show, but I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone else’s thoughts/opinions/critiques/compliments.

Jill Guccini: for the record, I applaud Lena Dunham for creating Girls and HBO for airing it. Even in 2013, there are precious few shows created by, run by and written by women of any age.

Dorothy Snarker: Love it or hate it, I hope we can all at least all be happy it exists. Because television has far too few female-created and female-centered shows about Girls of any age.

Grace Chu: Also, we just spent two days talking about it. The show has sparked the longest email thread in the history of AfterEllen. Well played, Ms. Dunham!

Punky Starshine: Yes, for all the bitching and moaning I do about the characters on this show, I am glad it exists.

Jill Guccini: Yes. I am very glad it exists, and I think it’s done good things. And for what it’s worth, my complaints about diversity are complaints I have about many many TV shows and yes, it is unfair that other TV shows haven’t gotten the same shit. Any and all criticism about any of the characters’ looks/bodies has all been completely and utterly gross.

Let’s also just all agree that we can like or not like whatever shows we want and it doesn’t make you a bad feminist or an unintelligent person either way. Yes? Yes.

Girls airs Sunday nights on HBO. Watch it. Or don’t.

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