So I finally got to watch the second episode of Girls after not being able to find it online and I have a few thoughts about it. First off, I should preface that I think it’s great that a young female writer/actress has one of the most talked about shows on television right now in an industry that’s been, and still is, predominantly run by men. I also think it’s great that Lena Dunham has a body type that is so common and normal in real life and pretty much non-existent in tv and film.
That said, this episode (“I get ideas”) left a bad taste in my mouth for a couple of reasons. I know that Hannah, the character Lena plays on the show is just that – a character. But I can’t help thinking a lot of the time when Hannah is speaking, it’s coming straight from Lena’s mind. Hannah is dating a guy name Sandy, who is black and a republican. The show got a lot of flack last season for not including any people of color and now the criticism is that Sandy, played by Donald Glover, is the token black guy. This is a valid criticism in my opinion, but at this point the show couldn’t really win either way so at least they’re trying I guess? Anyway, Hannah and Sandy get into an argument which leads to them talking about race and Hannah says the classic line, something to the effect of “I don’t see race” and “I don’t live in a world with divisions like that” to which Sandy replies “YOU DO!”
I’m pretty sure this is just the way Hannah’s character is and not a true reflection of what Lena Dunham actually thinks, but at the same time I wonder how much of it is Hannah and how much is Lena. Either way, I recognized so many people whom I’ve met and known in real life in Hannah’s “I don’t see race” spiel. Saying you don’t see race, especially when you are white and in a position of privilege, is failing to recognize the struggles that people of color have gone through and continue to go through. I haven’t seen following episodes but I hope this wasn’t just a one-and-done deal on the issue of race.
The other part of the show that rubbed me the wrong way was when Marnie tells Hannah she got a job as a hostess:
“Why are you saying it like that?”
“I’m not saying it any way, it’s just like…I don’t know, why?”
Again, I know this is Hannah the character talking, but just knowing the way Lena grew up (she attended St. Ann’s school in Brooklyn where the tuition for pre-school is, no joke, $27,000 dollars), I have a feeling she actually feels that a lot of jobs, jobs that plenty of people would be happy to have, are beneath her. Hannah was also unemployed, in New York City for that matter, for the majority of season 1 so clearly money isn’t really something she has to worry about.
I think these are all pretty standard issues that most critics have with the show, so I know I’m not saying anything new. I do enjoy watching it, despite my critiques. I think the important thing to remind myself is that in essence, the show focuses on a tiny minority of the population (i.e. rich white girls in New York), but it’s still an interesting and true-to-life representation of that particular group of people. Take it with a grain of salt.