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statements about Girls

dear.abby's picture

In the spirit of last week I am going to ignore the oppressive limitations of statement making and attempt to only make statements regarding the new tv show Girls which premiered on HBO last night...

The girls of Girls are all caucasian and 24: they are not girls. 

They all live in New York. 

They can work unpaid interships.

What is real for one may be terribly unreal for the rest.

Parts of Girls are excruciating to watch.

Girls is created, written, and directed by its female star Lena Dunham.

Lena Dunham is a 25 year old female.

She went to a liberal arts college.

Girls makes statements by asking questions.

Girls is not Sex and the City.

Approximately 10-15% of tv programs that go to pilot are written and created by female writers.

Of those many are written by male-female teams.

Huge, Pretty Little Liars, Being Human, The Killing, Rizzoli and Isles, The Big C. These shows and their pilots were written by female writers.

Girls is a terrible title.

Girls is worth watching.

first season preview girls


Anne Dalke's picture

Group-minded kinds?

How HBO's "Girls" Mirrors the Spirit of Sisterhood in Nature:
offsetting all those slings and risk factors is a powerful defense system: girlfriends. Hannah has a tight-knit network of three female confederates...they are each other’s emotional tourniquets.... Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the series, has said that ... female friendship is “the true romance of the show"...."There’s a biochemical component to this.” A familiar friend calms and equilibrates, mops up the cortisol spills that can weaken the immune system, and in so doing may help lengthen life — in baboons, humans and other group-minded kinds.

dear.abby's picture

I guess the question I want answered is--

Whether or not a work belongs in a feminist space simply by the virtue of the sex of those responsible for it... Girls is created by women to a degree that most work on television or in the movies is not. Does that fact make it relevant in a class on Critical Feminist Studies?

meowwalex's picture

The trailer made me cringe

The trailer made me cringe too. I am really not sure what to think about its creator. I googled the show to see if anything else noteworthy would come up, and even the article about it on E News had some pretty interesting comments:

Especially this one

"Ugh. Can the series finale to Dunham's ham-fisted, whine-athon be now? It's cute that Lena Dunham thinks her work is even in the same class as Sex and the City. Cute, but sadly mistaken. The strong, clever, relatable characters of Michael Patrick King's creation (with a little--very little--credit to Candace Bushnell) would have felt sorry for the selfish, boring, wasted characters of Dunham's creation, but they certainly wouldn't have lost much time on them. Speaking of, where do I go to get the 30 minutes I lost watching Lena/Hannah howl over her loss of familial support? I'm embarrassed for my generation that Dunham is being held up as our voice."

If she complained about Precious not representing her, why isn't she responding to the fact that many viewers feel her show is not representing any of them, in the slightest way?

dear.abby's picture

the show is intentionally exclusionary

As a note, the trailer very much distorts the show in order to make it eligible for mass appeal, because in reality, the show is focused on a group of women very separate from the "mass". This is why it is not on a mainstream network.

But to address the idea that the show is not effectively representative of women: that is the point. The show is intentionally focused on a select characteristically entitled group of white women who have all grown up in particularly priviledged environments and had the ability to attend elite liberal arts institutions.

This is a reality, and definitely one that past graduates of Bryn Mawr participate in. I have a feeling that if you watch the show you might actually identify more than you like. Which is also part of Dunham's intention. I think that she wants to paint a picture of a group of women who the viewer will inevitably identify as incredibly entitled and spoilt, but then also identify with or at the very least see Girls as representing their own insecurities. Girls is about the absolute niavete with which these incredibily educated women approach the world. And the way they confront this inevitable disillusionment.

At the end of the day this show is about women who have the priviledge to consider finding themselves a valid "occupation". As a rule, the majority of people who have the leisure to "find themselves" are white (as are the majority of people choosing to attend liberal arts colleges).

Also to be fair to Dunham, Girls begins with ending of the main character's source of priviledge and the forced finality of her ability to approach the world with exceeding niavete...

I have to admit I don't understand the decision to title the show Girls, especially since it really appears that Dunham put a lot of thought into every aspect of the production. She must realize how terrible and insulting that title is...though it is apparent that the women in the show are far from adults, I think in the grand scheme of things it is a step in the wrong direction to call a show centered around naive women Girls.

S. Yaeger's picture

Apparently, this show is

Apparently, this show is under fire for its lack of racial diversity, and because its writer responded to the controvery by tweeting that she disliked "Precious" because she didn't see herself represented on it.  It looks like the tweet has been deleted, but there's a lengthy tumblr thread with a screencap here:


I don't really have an opinion about the show, or about the lack of diversity, but the trailer made me cringe and that response makes me a little nauseated.