Okay, I get it. You don’t like GIRLS. Neither do most people who aren’t middle to upper class white girls in their late teens to mid-twenties. And dude, I totally get that. If you want to relate or identify with your television show, GIRLS is not really the way to go if you’re anyone outside of that small niche.
Honestly, I like GIRLS for the most part. I think Allison Williams is a pretty shitty actress (and so awkward!!!) and Jemima Kirke has yet to impress me but I think Zosia Mamet is phenomenal (yes I understand she got the gig because of her playwright father, but I think she is great and unlike the other “girls” is actually acting instead of just playing herself) and well, Lena, I feel her.
Let me preface. I think it’s fucking annoying how Lena only got this opportunity because of her parents, wealth, and whiteness but I think she is clever and funny and is a genuinely good writer, or is at least good at writing about herself. But Lena is ugly. And chubby. I know it would be way cooler and a lot more progressive if she came from a lower to middle class background and was a WoC. But I don’t think GIRLS should be dismissed just because she doesn’t fit a certain politically correct criteria (wow I sound like such a white feminist right now!!?). But like I said: I feel her. I’m white and pretty unattractive if you’re comparing me to typical standards of beauty. I weigh fifteen pounds more than I would like. My thighs are too big and my tits are too small and I have too much of a tummy (just like Lena!!).
I may not be rich but part of the reason I like GIRLS is because Lena is, upon your interpretation, making fun of rich, white sheltered young women, a lot like many of the girls I brush shoulders with at NYU. Which is why I find it interesting that as a comedy (I think it qualifies??) it is getting so much criticism for not being PC while there are a ridiculous amount of other comedies/sitcoms that are not PC and are praised for being, like, the greatest shows on television (Arrested Development, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Workaholics, etc.—all of which I love by the by).
Okay, so back to the whole ugliness thing. I was prompted to write this post in the first place because I’ve seen a ridiculous amount of criticism towards Lena in the past week, but not because she is wealthy or white or because her show fails to be a beacon of intersectional feminism. Most of the criticism has been, not surprisingly, of her appearance. And I say “not surprisingly” because as most people know it is not unusual for women, particularly in Hollywood, to be criticized for their appearance rather than their acting, writing, art, etc. Even if you don’t like the show, of which there are a multitude of reasons not to, why decide to criticize her ugliness or fatness or her inability to walk in high heels? If anything, I think those are Lena’s best attributes and what make the success of GIRLS at all subversive.
And what is again not surprising is that this superficial criticism is coming from other women! Particularly white women! Who seem to be attempting to put on an intersectional façade by hating the show yet criticizing it for all the wrong reasons. I know I shouldn’t be policing someone’s criticism since that is not very “feminist” of me, but Jesus, if you are going to hate on GIRLS why not deem it racist (remember when Adam told Lena she looked like a “Mexican teenager” and no one blew up about that but instead latched on to the prevalence of Lena’s unabashed nudity on screen?), or not intersectional, or simply a vehicle for Lena Dunham to be a complete narcissist (though I think criticizing her narcissism is a bit misogynistic, but to each her own) or even complain about the lack of thespian abilities among its actors? The fact that Lena Dunham is ugly is not the issue. Since the show’s beginning, I wonder what would happen if, say, Hannah was played by like a Scarlett Johansson type uber hottie. Would the show receive more or less praise? Would there be more or less complaints about its lack of WoC? What if it were BOYS and the cast was composed of only white male actors?
So basically, I’m trying to say two things. One, GIRLS never claimed to be “feminist” and as we all know by now, it’s not (or at least the type of intersectional, trans* inclusive feminism most feminists identify with and advocate currently) and if you’re going to criticize GIRLS for anything and still claim to be a “feminist”, why criticize a young, if not privileged, woman's appearance? Even if you don’t like her or her show, calling her a “little fat girl who kind of looks like Jonah Hill” (okay that was Howard Stern, whatever) isn’t going to make her show any more inclusive or make you look like a better feminist.