Lena Dunham Addresses “Girls” Diversity Criticism & Why I Just Don’t Care…

Lena Dunham Addresses "Girls" Diversity Criticism & Why I Just Don't Care...

“I wrote the first season primarily by myself, and I co-wrote a few episodes. But I am a half-Jew, half-WASP, and I wrote two Jews and two WASPs. Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting. If I had one of the four girls, if, for example, she was African-American, I feel like — not that the experience of an African-American girl and a white girl are drastically different, but there has to be specificity to that experience [that] I wasn’t able to speak to. I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, ‘I hear this and I want to respond to it.’ And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can’t speak to accurately.”

Lena Dunham’s response to public outcry over the lack of diversity in her popular new HBO series Girls

I’ve received several emails from readers asking if we are going to address this Girls matter, and, for the most part, I’ve avoided any discussion about it, because, quite frankly, I just don’t care! There – I said it. 

I’ll make this short and sweet.

Not that I don’t care about the lack of diversity in not just Dunham’s series, but in television and film (especially at the studio level) in general; Of course we care, as readers of this site will know very well! However, I think it’s silly to place that particular burden on a single show, and on one person’s shoulders. 

It’s not as if this is the first time we’ve seen network TV programs with all-white casts; it seems like every year, this comes up. I remember the uber-successful NBC sitcom Friends (which was also set in NYC) and the criticism it received for its lack of diversity in its casting. Eventually Gabrielle Union made history when her featured guest role as the love interest of characters played by both Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer, marked the first time a black actor had been featured on the NYC-set sitcom. And that was over 10 years ago. 

Evidently little has changed, because we are STILL having these same discussions several years later, and I’m just sick and tired of it all!

I’m far less upset with the Lena Dunhams of the world, who are really writing from their own true-to-life experiences, no matter how shallow and insular we might think of them; really, is it that difficult to fathom 4 white girls living in Brooklyn, who have no black friends? It’s not for me. I live in Brooklyn, and it’s as segregated as any other multi-racial/ethnic community. Sure there are pockets here and there where you’ll find a nice mix of skin-tones. But, we’re nowhere as post-racial as some might think. And socio-economic class is also very much a consideration.

I should note that *we* (black people) certainly aren’t the only *minority* group that’s marginalized and under-represented. 

May I suggest that, Instead, whatever frustration you feel should be directed at yourselves, and each other, as well as those black men and women in the industry – especially those with power and influence to affect change.

The problem, as I see it, and as has long been the case, is one of variety – specifically, a lack of it, where black representation is concerned. We keep waiting, hoping, wishing that eventually the white executives who run the industry will suddenly have a change of perspective, and we become no longer invisible to them; but we’re continuously disappointed. So we fight over the few crumbs that we get annually.

Instead we should invest all that energy into supporting those black filmmakers, content creators, movements, initiaitves, causes, organizations, etc, etc, etc. that we see some value in. Will doing that change the face of the industry overnight? No; but it’s far more productive, as far I’m concerned, and will likely eventually lead to the kind of change we keep crying for.

Dunham said that the ‘race” problem in Girls will be addressed in the next season, and the characters will be more diverse. Great! However, I’m not a fan of what she called classic network tokenism in casting; in essence, don’t give us characters of color just to meet a quota, or as a knee-jerk reaction to the criticism. And then when she does include black characters who aren’t written as we’d like them to be, we’ll only just criticize further!

If anything, I think she should stop apologizing, and just follow Woody Allen’s approach. The man has been criticized for years for just how insular the worlds he creates on film are; but that obviously hasn’t affected his choices, and his success.

So I just can’t get worked up over this single show and this single writer. And I actually think it’s unfair.

I haven’t watched a single episode of Girls, and I don’t intend to. It’s of no interest to me. I have so much else to keep up with. I hear it’s a good show, well-written etc. But nothing about it attracts me. 

But it’s certainly not the first, nor will it be the last high-(or low-) profile TV show that’s absent of *color*. Little has changed in decades, and I don’t expect much to change; but what we do have control over is how we respond to these things. And the same old response – getting upset about it, and voicing our frustrations – hasn’t produced much in terms of results; because we are STILL having the same conversations, and vocalizing the same criticisms.

So it’s time to sing a different tune altogether.

Maybe revisit Girlfriends on DVD, and push for a reboot of some kind.

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Comments

Serene

Girls is a funny well-written show and it's obvious that Dunham writes what she knows (however insular her little world is). As a fan of Dunham's Tiny Furniture, who was looking forward to the launch of Girls, I will say that I was disappointed when not even one POC was featured in the principal cast–or even as a recurring character. Dunham saying she was trying to avoid "tokenism" seems like a cop out. What's more likely is that she wrote these characters and assumed that no actor besides a white one could depict them. While close minded of her, Dunham's decisions are far from the biggest problem in Hollywood. She casted several of her close friends from college in the series and based all of the characters on real people. The main thing that's bothering so many people about the whitewashed ensemble of Girls is the fact that the series Girls is subversive in many ways. Women are depicted in a way that we almost never see… Anti-porn sex scenes, unsexualized nudity, female masturbation, women more worried about their careers and their art and each other than having a boyfriend, and women with a different body type than what we're used to seeing (and that doesn't define their character). These are all great strides for the white feminists. Lena Dunham has the gall to call Girls a feminist show, yet excludes people of color and the queer community. Hopefully this criticism will make Dunham understand that the media treats not only white women unfairly, but all women and many men.

Jeffery Bradley

Read "The Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by Gerry Mander. All questions will be answered. Also The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life by Marie Winn

Jamie

Why can't a show about a clique of rich white girls exist? It exists every second in America in real life.

The issue of diversity in Girls was a media-generated firestorm but black people took the ball and ran with it.

I'm frankly bored of black people trying to insert themselves into every story that ever existed. It's a hipster show about an area that is clearly experiencing gentrification just like about 90% of inner city areas across the country.

We need to get over ourselves. I don't hang out with girls like this and wouldn't WANT to find myself trapped at a dinner table with the spoiled sect to hold an hour long conversation. These are the kids a lot of black people watch on television shows and shake their heads about.

I just wish people would stop making mini civil rights movements out of issues that don't deserve them.

The token black girl will be introduced and audiences are going to hate her because she's the token black girl who is written poorly because the writers have no clue what to do with her.

yoy

Oh my gosh and then when the parts do come, its "what kinda black girl we gonna hire?"… uptown, downtown, hipster, dark, light… ho hum…
I think if the shows well written people will show to watch anything. ie Cosby show. Someone mentioned The Wire, but I have to say, that show has a very griddy and narrow focus which could be why it was canceled. Not because of race.
I just finished shooting a film with a beautiful female black lead and boy is it hard to sell. To the fests or to top tier distribs. I'm not saying its not because of my film. Maybe its just a piece of garbage ;) But I'm not saying its not either. The story has nothing to do with blackness and shes damned good in it. Perhaps if I had her less well spoken and battling an urban lifestyle the execs who think they know where black people fit in would have purchased it already.
I'm not sure that producers realize what they're doing when creating all white casts. Or when Vanity Fair has a whole spread that doesn't highlight ONE black actress… (just wrote them a letter so don't look at the current issue as an example bcuz I think they heard me.) Peeps are just creating what they know.
peace out ;)

Stefan

I agree….Who cares? There are really great writers of color out there who are making big moves….such as…..Issa Rae…..Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl has to be one of the most hilarious things I've seen on T.V

But here's something I like to mention. The writer to this show is able to write about her life without any changes. Issa Rae talked of how when she had the opportunity to take this story to the T.V., producers were asking her to change certain colors within the character, in a sense making it not an Awkward Black Girl, but an Awkward Jewish Girl, White Girl or any Girl that isn't dark skinned.

My question is if Issa Rae had the opportunity to get on this world wide stage of being on HBO or just on T.V., would her voice and her ideas as with the people who she collaborates with be compromised or no?

scott

This show brings up some other critical issues in Hollywood. Long standing ones too. The fact that nepotism has a strong grip on the industry. All fo the female leads are daughters of famous and well-to-do people. This isn't a new trend, not at all. Some of my favorite actors in hollywood jumped over thousands of talented people because they were either the children of famous celebrities or the children of wealthy, well connected people. Paul Giamatti for example as well as Rooney Mara. However, it used to be that one or two well known actors were cast to carry a show with fans while lesser known and unconnected actors were brought in to fill out the cast. This show has now 4 relatively unknown actors as the leads who were still cast, not because of talent, but because they are part of the "lucky sperm club"

Myah

that wasn't gabrielle union on friends, it was aisha tyler

anon

When I heard about this intitially I dismissed it and thought here we go again black people begging to be included in a system that doesnt WANT YOU and never has then I heard other people complaining and thought fair enoguh it doesnt have any diversity whatsoever in one of the most diverse cities in the WORLD! Frankly, if wp can complain about hunger games then blacks etc can complain about this! however, I do believe there is a more sinister reason for the exclusion and that is it is not only showing white privilige/supremacy but PROMOTING IT! If they had a black, latin, or asian girl in it what does that say about the white elite? and white privalige? It totally debunks the idea that white people are more superior and exposes the fact that not ALL blacks and minorities are POOR so in order to keep up the pretense to the massses that whites are on top and blacks at the bottom (notice how they show a homeless black man in first ep) NO mainstream tv programme can show black people or ANY minority on the same LEVEL as whites. Btw, the lady in question DOES have bw in her social cirlce but chose to NOT include them in the show.

But yep agree with tambay bp need to stop gassing up wp heads begging to be included in their "exclusive" cirlces and start looking elsewhere. The first place i would sugest is NOLLYWOOD but I know most people arent intrested but ignore it at your peril thats all i'll say.

Leon Breckenridge

I went to a diverse school and to this day I know nothing about other people of color outside of black. I kick with them, but I don't know their background like Filipinos. Just because black people are in your neighborhood doesn't mean you know their background. She knows the experience of white woman. It is a good show. People are complaining because it is a show that is good. But what about No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency? We didn't support that show on the SAME NETWORK and it was cancelled. What about Lincoln Heights? Daylight? Chicago Hope? Black people bitch a fit but never support a black show. But we want to be on a show like this? Where white women are getting fucked, masturbating, and talking about HPV. We complain about Precious when there is a few sex scenes. Either support or own shit or die.

Charles Judson

What Jug said.

JMac

I shouldn't even step in here but I've got the time and there's so many responses :)! I admit I knew nothing about this show until some black folks (online) started saying it was racist for lack of diversity. Heck, that's why I refused to watch Seinfeld and Friends so many years ago – esp after I took a trip to the heart of NYC. And yet, I agree with Tambay. A little older and wiser maybe? More faith in the future of black media? I don't know. But I don't care as much as I used to. I never liked Sex in the City and didn't get why black women were so upset over it – like you would want to see 4 black whores hooking up with different men each episode. I haven't watched Girls and probably won't because it doesn't appeal to me and doesn't speak to my experience. Having said that, I understand Nadine's and Misha's points too … rewind to the Hunger Games quotes fiasco. Despite my wanting to see myself on screen, the argument doesn't necessarily follow that I can't complain about diversity on other shows. It just depends on the sentiment behind that lack of diversity. If a show is well written (and appeals to the masses – difficult task I know), everybody will watch regardless of the race of the characters. How often do we get well written all black cast shows? Not that often. I don't believe the writer is racist, don't think the network is (anyone remember Grand Avenue?), but I do object to the notion that white people who won't or can't watch shows with more than two black (or anything other than white) casts are "normal." If there were well written black shows, damn straight I would watch but I wouldn't refuse to watch if the cast is 50/50. Maybe because that is reality for most blacks and other minorities in this country. Whites may be able to completely insulate themselves at home, work, school, shopping, etc.. but we can't. However with the overwhelming influence other cultures have had on whites for how many centuries the "I never had any black friends growing up so I don't care to see them on my tv at all" argument is pretty pathetic. They can jam to our music, take credit for our sports victories, laugh at our jokes, emulate our trends but being seen as human beings and not mere vessels of mindless entertainment is beyond their abilities? GTFOOH (my new catch phrase).

Miles Ellison

His name is George Wallace. He was in one episode. All of this word blitz about the lack of diversity in Girls is moot. How many black people would have watched this show even if it was more diverse? The Wire was diverse. So is Treme. Both shows feature complex three dimensional black characters of all stripes. The Wire was almost canceled after 3 seasons because hardly anybody except critics was watching it. Even fewer people are watching Treme. What exactly are we talking about here?

CreoleYaYa

Tambay, you couldn't have said it better. At this point, the studios and the powers that be either don't care and/or just don't have any friends of color. I had a discussion with my teen daughter awhile back about how TV/film portrays sex and dating and how every one usually follows the same formula – the nerds, the jocks, the popular girls and so on. Have you actually seen and/or met the people who write and produce? I have and unfortunately, many were more than likely the underdogs, which is why we see what we see. Same goes for race. Many of these people don't have friends of other races so it's not in their purview to write about it. It doesn't even cross their mind. I remember when Seinfeld, another NY based show, was criticized for lack of diversity and Jerry Seinfeld said that one of his best friend's was a black comedian (I can't remember his name) – well, if that's the case then why wasn't he on the show????

Laura

Let me put my two cents in this one. One of the thing that I find missing in this discussion about Lena Dunham is what have been said about her prior to "Girls." There has been a lot of buzz (or outcry ) over her film "Tiny Furniture" being selected for the Criterion Collections. The basic argument from (white male) filmmakers is that Lena comes from priviledge so she is able to make leaps and bounds in career at such a young age in which other filmmakers (not matter what race or gender) are not able to do. These (white male) filmmakers have to toil for years to make any kind of showing. This leads me to my view of Girls. According to Wikipedia she attend Saint Ann School in Brooklyn Heights (an exclusive neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.) I'm from Brooklyn and let me tell you that is a school in where the elite send their children. I've never watched the HBO show. But it seems like its a show about bunch of hipster girls used to "slumming" on their parent's dime (hipster kids are also know as "trust fund kids"-TFK). So I don't understand this call outcry (personally I think it's a PR stunt cause I'm around a whole lot of Black folks they talk about TV show and "Girls" ain't one of them) about her not having Black characters in the film. Well in Brooklyn Heights you see white babies with West Indian nannies (one of my closest friend is a Bajan nannie who work in Brooklyn Heights) And when those grown up kids go slumming in neighborhoods like Williamburg, Fort Greene, Bed Sty, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Carol Garden etc. they segregate themselves from the natives. These natives are white, Black, hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Asian. I think it would be disingenous for the show to have a Black female character lead. This show is made for the hipster (TFK) and hipster-want-to-be. Just my two cents.

Bondgirl

Why even bother having a black girl on this show so stupid ass folks can nitpick her hairstyle choice, and discuss how unrealistic it is for her to be a rich socialite like they do Scandal? Black people, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Bondgirl

Why even bother having a black girl on this show so stupid ass folks can nitpick her hairstyle choice, and discuss how unrealistic it is for her to be a rich socialite like they do Scandal? Black people, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Jug

*Sigh* I was keeping out of a number of these frays cuz I've had other things to deal with, like my career LOL But let's be honest. Anyone who says the show is racist has an agenda. Period. The show is not racist. Just like a show with all Black characters is not racist. The decisions that become racist, as Tambay alluded to, are that there aren't enough depictions of various experiences across the board. Hence the article I posted below. That woman is right, TV itself is racist-and sexist/misogynist. The decisions execs make based on numbers, statistics, focus groups, blah blah blah are all based of off the people tho. So isn't it really about us, the audience, too? They are AFRAID to have minority anything in large numbers leading the cast of a series because they believe (tired song & dance) that there won't be ENOUGH of a return on investment-but how many of the comments on this board (in their limited scope) seem to prove them right. "I don't watch it because there's no Black people in it" & what not. Isn't that the same thing white people are saying about OUR shows or at least what the execs believe? But let's talk turkey for a second. HBO is premium cable & doesn't have to worry about advertisers, but the shows still cost MONEY. And honestly, the shows on HBO are more lavish and expensive than any other network (ROME, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, GAME OF THRONES), not to mention the star fucking that goes on (Nolte, Hoffman, Mann, Danson, Byrne, Simon)-you still gotta pay for that. HBO owns & produces all of their shows outright, unlike Showtime who shoulders SOME of the burden but production companies like Warner Horizons & Lionsgate TV are the productions companies feting the bill. So, let me put it to you like this-If it was your $3-5 Mil per episode you were laying down, wouldn't you want to know it was worth it? And that people would watch? I get the anger about some types of shows not getting a shot (DA BRICKS being of prime example tho I don't know if it was Quality or not) and shows that a reeeally specific clique loved and got a lil' run on HBO-HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA, BORED TO DEATH. Critical darlings that did get chopped second & third seasons in respectively. Why? Because it is TOO EXPENSIVE to have shows on where even a smaller percentage of the already small subset of TV watchers watch. Not every show, in fact very few, are gonna have TRUE BLOOD numbers. HOMELAND is a HIT for Showtime & barely manages 1.7 Mil viewers. Seriously?! GIRLS however, premiered to 872,000 but ballooned to 3.8 Mil thanks to DVR. That's why it got a second season. And it's that sort of "promise" that many of these execs aren't sold on when it comes to minority stuff. Let's be real, if the show was about an Indian family, or a Spanish or Mexican family, how many of US would watch it? If we're gonna have agendas, then let's be honest about them & not act like somebody is always doing us a super disservice when they're doing the same thing we'd do ourselves. All of this is a moot point tho, because as we've said before, you can be a Black, Asian, Indian, creative all you want to, but unless there are more minorities as showrunners & button pushers at the networks/studios, you are at the merciless whim of someone who probably "can't/won't/doesn't care to" understand your writing & show viewpoint. They go by the numbers and what's "trending" on twitter.

CareyCarey

Do not pass go. Do not pickup 200 dollars. Marvin K Mooney would you please go NOW. This has to be one of the most ridiculous arguments to ever graced the pages of S&A. You mean to tell me that some black folks are pitching a bitch because a white women wrote a script that did not include black characters and thus she's racist and the network is racist, and they all committed a crime against black folks???!!! GT-BIG-FOOH! Seriously, I can understand complaining about "The View" firing Holly Robinson. I even understand the complaints about Django, The Help, Halle Berry's role in Monster's Ball, everything Tyler Perry and the shame on the movie "Shame" — but THIS!? SERIOUSLY? Yet, of course, some folks will argue that fat meat ain't greasy. Yeah, imagine that. You know — they just love to see the multitude of reactions when they yell "FIRE"! But damn, crying wolf is so annoying and it goes without question that it's counter productive. I just don't understand, but who do we blame for this bit of ridiculousness? I mean, who can stop Misha from her fatal bout of ridiculousness – huh? Surely she knows her argument is akin to a Chihuahua or French Poodle nipping at the tail of a Pit Bull. C'mon now. Only a person who simply loves to argue would compare Issa Rae's one hit wonder ( a web series at that) to Lena Dunham's resume. Charles said it right — Issa is a ROOKIE in the lower minor leagues. So yeah, in the end "if loving you (black folks) is wrong I don't wanna be right. If being right means being without you I'd rather live a wrong doing life" But this is Madness! What's next, complaining that the writer of "The Three Stoogies" didn't include Tracy Morgan?

Joe Camel

The problem with the GIRLS fiasco was their CASTING SIDES. If you remember it was a laundry list of racial stereotypes from the 1950's. True to this article's point, it was offensive to all non-Caucasians. Here's a link:

http://cdn.theatlanticwire.com/img/upload/2012/04/19/casting.jpg

MUST DO JAMAICAN ACCENT. MUST DO TIBETAN ACCENT. MUST DO SOUTH AMERICAN/CENTRAL AMERICAN ACCENT. Whoever cast this program (wrote those dialects phonetically into a script?) is not a racist but is definitely mired in a culture of passive racial stereotyping. If they aren't minstrels they're service personnel. Except for the "weirdo." That one COULD be white if the right fat guy auditioned.

Don't dismiss this because *you* don't find it personally offensive. It's a serious problem in Hollywood, and whether you like it or not (whether it applies to you or not), has seriously impacted how the current generation in power understands social aspects of race.

Ms. Mooks

I agree 100%. I love the show. Doesn't bother me that there aren't any people of color on the show. The world that she's in, i'm sure, people of color probably doesn't come across her path that often, feel me? (To be frank, I think the Asians have it FAR worse than any race in the entertainment business) If we want things to change we have to change them ourselves. "Think Like a Man" could have changed perceptions but it could be the just the hot thing of moment–meaning "black films" might be the new fad until ONE crumbles…

Roy

Being a background actor and writer, who sees himself as human more than African-American, I feel if you want to see more diversity in television, created something that's worthy of being produced instead of bitching. Despite a lot of setbacks, African-Americans have come a long way since the Jim Crow days.

donnadara

Sorry, I care. It's 2012. I have close black and white friends and a white husband. In her age demographic, it is not unusual for people to hang out in multiracial groups. I think it makes HBO look behind the times to greenlight this show with all white leads.

imahrtbrkbeat

Ever since I was a child, I've split my time between NY and Atlanta.I understand that based on your experience, Brooklyn is not as integrated as people assume for it to be — but based on my experiences, particularly having grown up in both places for most of my life — right now, I see the same patterns of diversity when it comes to social groups in Atlanta (specifically the heart of the city) and Brooklyn, especially now, moreso than ever. By no means am I disagreeing with you in terms of segregation still existing, and I am certainly aware that this whole post-racial society is basically a myth. I've had run-ins with all kinds everywhere, and every place has deep pockets of racism, especially from your own folks (but that's another story for another time…). However, I do believe that the thing that would have brought the show to an advantage is if they did cast it with diversity in mind. Look at "How to Make It In America" — I'm sure that Ian Edelman didn't know about the latino experience when creating Cam Calderon or the black experience when creating Domingo Brown. Hell, most of the men that write roles for women don't know about the female experience, yet it's not used as an excuse for the lack of female-driven roles in television and cinema. I don't relate to the white experience, but that doesn't mean that I cannot create a character and write for one that is white. At the end of the day, as a black female, I have challenges daily in which my race and gender combined is an issue, but I still am a WOMAN — and I live with the daily issues of being a WOMAN — the dating and mating game, trying to live my dreams, working on a hustle just to make ends meet. Dealing with friends or family that may or may not understand who I am, and overall trying to understand who I am as I'm on the verge of turning 30. So, Dunham's excuse for not writing from "the black experience" is bogus. I feel like she's throwing that uber PC card at us, and it's not working. We're different, but not so much that you don't feel that it's right to exclude us.

CareyCarey

@ Misha & Charles… When Jug speaks — I listen. The following is part of his link (below): Also according to the WGA, writers of color have faced the most relentless bias of all: They've never been more than 10 percent of the working writers in the TV industry.

As many TV writers pointed out in the piece I wrote about the industry's lack of progress last September, women and people of color, who are often treated as the tokens they usually are, are typically the junior members of a writing staff, hardly able to challenge those around them and push for the kind of stories that would reflect their lives and worldviews more accurately. There are precious few female showrunners and showrunners of color, and that's just wrong for any number of reasons. ~ Huffington Post

misha

"The real problem is that HBO would never sign off on a show about 4 black girls." >>>> Ha! You got that right, Moinfire! Anyhow, I've never watched Girls and have no desire to, so I couldn't care less about this manufactured controversy or what Dunham thinks about it.

Moionfire

I don't get the outcry either. Most white girls only hang out with other white girls. Just because you live in a multi-racial city doesn't mean you actually associate with people of other races. The real problem is that HBO would never sign off on a show about 4 black girls. That is the problem. If the entertainment world wants to create all white cast shows, they need to compensate and make more all black cast shows(asian, latino, etc).

MrBobb

This reminded me of an article about the lack of diversity in Woody Allen films. My response still remains: So what?

MrBobb

I don't understand this outcry. The show is not even that good.

Mark & Darla

Didn't even know the show exist until blacks started talking on the internet, no thank you, don't have HOB to expensive gotta eat, will stick with 'Awkward Black Girl'.

Rachel

Hold on. You are responding to a controversy about a show you have never seen before? Who gave you this assignment?

Tiffany Darling

I think it's unfair to be upset with her about "Girls" as well. We can not expect everyone else BUT "us" to tell our stories. We can not be upset with people who are writing according to what they know. We can not expect Hollywood to tell our stories, because they don't know our stories, and unfortunately the only stories they are familiar with is another oppressed film about someone trying to get out their struggle, or a gun toting grandmother, or some under-represented stereotype, which causes them to question how accurate of a portrayal is a "Love Jones" for instance. It's up to us to share our diversities…not the next "Lena Dunham" because she's anybody white with a pen as far as I'm concerned…except for the duo who wrote "Think Like a Man" but that's another story lol

Melissa

Who and what the hell is Girls?

I've not heard any black women in my office talking about it, let alone complaining. Thanks for the PR press release though. lol!

No I won't check it out.

BeautyIAM

I saw the first episode of the show and checked out. It was really boring and I didn't like any of the characters. I am within the age group the show was intended to represent, but I really couldn't relate that much.

I wholeheartedly agree with Tambay. I didn't care that the show had no people of color. The show was terrible to me so I am happy that there are no black people in it. Even if she were to include a person of color, she would most likely do it in the most stereotypical way. Adding tokens into the show would really cheapen it because we all know why that random person of color came in.

There are many more places that black people can be represented due to technology.

I am going to continue to support the shows that I like that do include characters of color. Scandal is on that list. So is The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and the story lines from the creator of Black and Sexy.

Adam Scott Thompson

The show is good — the acting, the writing the directing — all of it. I don't know that I need to share the color of the characters; I just want to feel for them — that's what it's all about. Dunham is too talented to have to defend herself against such complaints. "Write what you know," as they tell us. That said, I agree with Tambay that it's up to us (and our "movers") to provide the representation we seek; it will not be handed to us, deserved or not. At day's end, I respect talent over the rest. I'll gladly trade Tyler "Citizen Coon" Perry and all his ilk for half a Lena Dunham. Let the doors open…

SOME DUDE

Now, full disclosure – i'm a guy so what do I know about all this… :)

That out of the way. The title of the show being 'GIRLS' imo isn't intended to imply the show is universally speaking for all women. To me it's more a comment of the maturity level of these characters relative to their place in the world and what's expected of them.

And to Kai, who commented the show was being branded as Dunham representing the 'voice of a generation' and you turned it off 10 mins in – that was a joke in the show, a show which plays to me (at least) as a dry satire with some over the top moments thrown in for laughs.

There are a lot of great stories this show can tell within the world these characters live in. I'm game to go along for the ride and not take it all too seriously.

This isn't to say television is doing well with representing other races – it's really not overall. If you want to get mad at a TV show about race – The Bachelor – have at it, that's fair play.

angel thurgood

Great post Tambay! I also think it's unfair to criticize Dunham because people forget that this show has FOUR female leads! Isn't that diversity too?? It also irks me how some pick and choose what shows to criticize. I never heard anyone criticize Two and a Half Men, Home Improvement, Frasier or any other shows whose leads were white males.

Nadine

Again…based on the comments… it seems that most people are not sweating this GIRLS issue. It's been way over-blown.

Michael

A member of the "black intelligentsia" says Amen

penny nyc

Gabrielle Union was not the first Black actor on Friends. There were many other Black actors who appeared on the show in minor roles.

the black police

I am THE Black Police and I heartily approve of this message.

Phil

Bravo! Imagine the reaction in our community if someone had forced a white character to be written into the cast of Girlfriends of if they forced Cole to be cast as a white man on Martin. It's very simple, if you don't like the character representations on HBO cancel your subscription and go elsewhere for your entertainment.

other song

attacking Lena is just f*cking lazy. Nobody hands down power – you take it by force or through innovation or both. Let's go out there and make our own content. FIN

Nadine

… 100% right. These "concerns" are being OVER-REPORTED. I only saw these concerns over the Internet from Black site and not even from folks in the industry in which I work, just Whites talking about the supposed issue… like c'mon. Totally over-blown not to mention… ummm… this is her reality and I get that. I wonder how many of the "supposed" Black women complaining (I still don't believe this to truly be the case) about this show would've ACTUALLY hung out with these girls in their twenties (or even teens). SHOW of hand please? These "plain girl" cliques are notoriously lost in their own little worlds throughout high school and college and then become the "b!tchy" interns doing whatever is necessary to get ahead and gain favor in their twenties and so on with no scruples IRL… so do we really care? Hollywood has been taken over by plain White girls trying to convince the world they are hot and are to be desired (see http://www.hulu.com/watch/358834/battleground-did-you-win and the blonde and auburn haired love interests). Must we now fight for their "coveted" friendship? Excuse me… THAT'S WHY THEY HATE US… because we don't sweat them, so please… let these GIRLS be…

LeonRaymond

Hey I'm sorry, it's there world that they want to show and more power to them. We should have our own shows or show titled "Black Girls" , since they used the title "GIRLS" and it was just White Girls where Black folk or any other folk of color don't exist in stores, restaurants. offices etc. I support them that they have the right to create and do that show, I am just a bit tired of the false critical acclaim given to it cause it's not even that hot a show. I watched it with 4 female friends who were of different nationalities, and all they could state was "Are you kidding, are these girls from Mars"

Kai

At first I thought the diversity criticism was legitimate but then I realised Lena was like a lot of hip white girls who might be open minded and yet lead a rarefied lifestyle. I saw like 10 mins of the 1st episode and switched off. If I was honest it was because of the way the show was being touted as "the voice of a generation". I thought that was bs. And when you have a show title as generic as "girls"… you expect a show much more broader and far less monochromatic. Particularly, when it is set in one of the most diverse environments on earth.

Nicole

Bravo Tambay!!! I agree with every word you said. Every. Word.

Orville

I don't get the outcry about Girls because I think Lena Durham has a right to write about her life experience. People of colour need to become more creative like the lady who created the web series Issa Rae I believe is her name. We can't expect whites to care about representation of minorities on television. I think the only way representation of blacks will change on television is when more blacks have the power to make change. For example, Shonda Rhimes did make a show Scandal with a black actress in the lead role Kerry Washington. Shonda had the power because of her success with Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.

Charles Judson

"So it's time to sing a different tune altogether." Amen!

Seriously

IT was not GABRIELLE UNION on Friends. It was AISHA TYLER.

Jug

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maureen-ryan/girls-hbo-racist_b_1451931.html

W

Thank you! I agree. On to being more productive.

Sammydaviss

People like this should not have a voice. Considering most others don’t. She’s an idiot

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