I wrote this after the initial backlash of the premiere of Lena Dunham’s Girls, which I really enjoyed (and continued to enjoy all season). I didn’t post it because I didn’t think it would do anybody any good, and was maybe too argumentative? But I just re-read it and decided to post it, just for the record (a small writing sample, if nothing else). Read it, or don’t!
Well there goes my initial hope that maybe the lack of color on Girls was a conscious decision. I thought that perhaps it was meant to be a statement. The characters on the show seem so much like the girls we know, or are, or want to be, or avoid, but that unarguably exist: young, newly gentrified girls who live in the big city but don’t go to the ‘sketchy’ parts of town, and don’t make money (but who cares) and don’t make friends that aren’t clones of themselves. They have first world problems and are frustratingly stupid in a lot of ways, but we see a little bit of ourselves in the middle of it all.
But still, even if the lack of color was not deliberate, and even if Lesley is going to ruffle some feathers with the way she chose to address the matter… I think I see her point. She’s being absurd, and it is absurd. It’s absurd for her to say that, and absurd for viewers to expect a TV show or film to be tailor-made to every one of their physical insecurities, or dietary preferences, or yes, shades of pigment. I think Jenna Wortham, who didn’t see enough of herself in the premiere but does know how to avoid “White People Shit (She Doesn’t) Care About”, might be missing the point. Lena, Lesley et all are simply making a TV show, man. You can’t expect everything from every thing, or for something to be something it is not. Who are we to demand that the pilot of a TV show be everything, and to all of us? This is one little drop of a show in the pool of an industry that has systematically always been too white, or too straight, or too dumb. I’m sure I don’t have to list the things on TV that are infinitely more offensive than the 30 minutes of Girls we’ve seen so far. Which brings us back to what I hope is the reason for Lesley’s tweet: it’s not Girls’ fault that you’re not happy with television right now.
For instance: there are no gays on Girls (so far), but that doesn’t mean I’m going to shit on it for that reason, or that I wish that this particular show was suited more to my particular spot on the sexual gradient. I would love to see more LGBTQ related programming, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy things that aren’t geared towards
LGBTQ, gay men, white gay men, white gay men with size 12 feet, ME. It is not Lesley Arfin or Lena Dunham’s responsibility to make a television show that satisfies us in that way, or in any way, really. It’s their prerogative to make the show they want to make. It’s ours to tune in, or not.
I guess I just don’t see why we can’t enjoy (or not enjoy, as is in our jurisdiction) this particular TV show for what it is, at face value. How about a pat on the back for the relatively unknown young woman who stars in her self-written, self-directed television show on a respected cable network? That privilege isn’t given to a lot of people in the television industry, male or female or black or gay or famous or connected or whatever else. The first person that comes to mind that is successfully doing something similar right now is Louis CK, and no one is shitting on his show for not being broad-reaching enough. Just sayin’.