Lena Dunham’s “Girls” returns Sunday for its second episode, which is hard to believe given the amount of media coverage and musings about realism, feminism, race and likability already generated by the show. Heading into that installment, which is sure to automatically infuriate plenty by delving into the topic of abortion, here’s a rundown of some of the things already upsetting people about the season’s most divisive series about four young women doing nothing that out of the ordinary.
The Show’s Name:
Christopher Owens, the frontman of the indie rock band Girls, has taken to Twitter to express annoyance that the show shares the same name as his group (a word also commonly used to refer to a not insignificant portion of the female population). As Hitfix reports, Owens tweeted that “It’s a bit sucky to be informed by a giant company like HBO that you don’t matter enough culturally to not have your name taken away or used… Do you think that TV show even thought twice before using our bands name for their show? I’ll bet they were just like ‘fuck it, fuck them’,” he continued, making any claims that the characters on the series are unrealistically self-involved pale in the harsh bluish light of the real-life internet.
Not Representing the Sisterhood:
Interviewed in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Dunham was asked is she’d “ever read a book about girls or women” that made her “angry or disappointed or just extremely annoyed?” Her response was that she doesn’t “have a taste for airport chick-lit, even in a guilty-pleasure way. Any book that is motored by the search for a husband and/or a good pair of heels makes me want to move to the outback.” This displeased “In Her Shoes” author Jennifer Weiner, who took to Twitter to chastise Dunham for tearing down other women when she “could have not taken the bait. ‘No comment’ or ‘I’d rather talk about books I love’ is always classy.” She later wrote that she found it better to “keep quiet about women-written books I don’t love, knowing how hard it is to get pubbed and get noticed, and how slams can sting.”
Depictions of Race:
“Girls” writer Leslie Arfin picked fights with a lot of people all at once when she published a since-deleted tweet announcing that “What really bothered me most about ‘Precious’ was that there was no representation of ME.” While I assume that was meant to reference the many reviewers that fault the characters’ place of privilege as not reflecting their own twentysomething experiences, Arfin’s poorly chosen quip enraged people already upset about the show’s lack of diversity. Pieces like Kendra James’ in Racialicious and Jenna Wortham’s in The Hairpin have outlined frustrations felt by women who turned to “Girls” with the expectations of something closer to their own lives, for the realism the marketing and early reviews have touted, only to feel isolated by the fact that the show’s overwhelmingly white. At the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a wonderful and more measured response in which he suggests, “It is not so wrong to craft an exclusively white world — certainly a significant portion of America lives in one. What is wrong is for power-brokers to pretend that no other worlds exists.”
A Photoshopped poster of the “Girls” campaign started making the rounds online a few days ago — it retitled the show “Nepotism” and labeled the castmembers as “Bad Company’s drummer’s daughter,” “NBC’s Brian Williams’ daughter,” “artist Laurie Simmons’ daughter” and “playwright David Mamet’s daughter.” All true, but an undeniable cheap shot — to leave the last word with Twitter, the main battleground for many of these brawls, let’s turn to Grantland’s Andy Greenwald, who tweeted “I love the way people throw around ‘Laurie Simmons’s daughter’ as a withering example of nepotism when no one knows who that is.”