Girls: Let's Everyone Just Calm Down
Apr 20 2012
You know that scene in American Psycho where the guys are comparing business cards, and the main guy almost starts crying because he feels like his is the most limp and shitty? That's what it's like every day when you're a girl. So naturally when a show comes out (on HBO, the BEST CABLE NETWORK EVER) that is actually just called Girls, women from across the land are going to be tripping over themselves at the chance to say how and why it sucks and blows because really, what do women hate MORE than seeing another young woman succeed at something? Spoiler to the rest of this post: Lena Dunham is a white woman in her mid-twenties who is writing and directing a show on a major network and it's making people insane.
In case you're not familiar with the show, Girls is about four female friends living in Brooklyn who are all like "whatever" about jobs and have in-depth convos in bathrooms a lot. Full disclosure, I've only seen the pilot and it was pretty much all about eating dinner and being scared to have anal. From where I'm standing this show should be called Girls: Who Gives a Shit?
Girls is written and directed by Lena Dunham who is best known for having done Tiny Furniture, which was very similar to Girls in that it was pretty much about nothing and still also managed to infuriate people. I can't remember what specifically people hated about the movie, but after telling my most recent ex-gf that I had watched it online she said something to the effect of "oh, I hate that girl." I think it was because she can afford to pay her credit card bills or something, and people can't stand that shit.
The bulk of the shit tornado that's been messing up all our hairdos since the first episode of Girls aired is that it's completely effed because no women of color are represented on the show. A post called "Where (My) Girls At?" that the Hairpin ran this week generated 414 comments left by women who were so stirred up by thoughts and feelings that each one translates to that of a loud banshee yelling noise. I left a comment of my own:
As you can see there, my comment only got four little thumbs up, while other comments that were more along the lines of "I HATE THINKING ABOUT MY OWN LIFE AND PROBLEMS! I'D RATHER COMPLAIN ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE'S, AND TELEVISION" got like one-million thumbs ups.
VICE contributor Lesley Arfin, is one of the writers for Girls and she commented on the controversy via her Twitter, and it made people gnash and thrash at themselves and the world for, like, days.This is what her comment said:
I haven't seen a controversy like this about a television show since the L Word. Side note, I literally thought that Girls was about dykearoos until I watched it. I mean, the main pic for it just shows four broads sitting on a couch sporting tennis player haircuts so, naturally I just assumed. Other side note: If this show doesn't get a gay or lesbian character on it, preferably a black disabled one, I'm gonna KILL MYSELF!!!! Okay, getting back to what I was saying, when the L Word came out the lesbian "community" was freaking out and crying saying things like "dykes aren't that pretty," and "why are there no trans people on this show?" The makers tried to correct their wrongs by putting some ugs characters on (looking at you, vagina wig), and a trans character, Max. But people were still upset and like, "Um, we're not sure about Max, can we have a different one?"
I currently live in a very multi-cultured part of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn and knowing that I was going to be writing this post today, I wanted to make sure and have it be super balanced by getting a few comments from actual people of color on the topic. Since so many (primarily young, white, priviliged) women are the bulk of the people getting up in arms about this show, I wonder what the people they're trying to defend would have to say about it. Walking towards the A train on Nostrand Avenue I stopped four African American women and asked them the same question:
"Hey, I know you're headed to work, but I'm writing an article on a TV show called Girls and I was just wondering what you thought about the racial controversy surrounding it."
All four of the women I talked to responded with the same thing:
Let's break it down in an easy to digest way:
Gripe about Girls #1, as illustrated by Jenna Wortham in the aforementioned Hairpin post:
"But the problem with Girls is that while the show reaches—and succeeds, in many ways—to show female characters that are not caricatures, it feels alienating, a party of four engineered to appeal to a very specific subset of the television viewing audience, when the show has the potential to be so much bigger than that. And that is a huge fucking disappointment."
Let's focus on the "to appeal to a very specific subset of the television viewing audience" part up there. On a blanket level, that means that shows like Threes Company are offensive because they clearly only cater to swingers, and Deadliest Catch is even more so because, I mean, who can afford a boat?? To focus in a bit more on the whole "there are no shows for normal, non-super model type girls, and this could have been one, and they are not including ALL TYPES of girls" thing, how real do we really want TV shows to be? I don't want to watch a show that depicts poor, out-of-shape people who come home from work and change their tampon and then make a salad for 20 minutes. Is that a show? Do you want to make THAT show?
Gripe about Girls #2, as illustrated by Dodai Stewart in the Jezebel post titled "Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls" post:
"If Girls was merely a terrible show with zero potential, none of this would be up for discussion. Part of the problem is that the creator, Lena Dunham, and the premise — a kind of more realistic Sex and The City — have so much potential. I longed for women of color to be included in SATC as well; the cocktails and the heels and the love troubles rang so true, it seemed a shame that there wasn't a black lawyer, real estate agent, PR gal, record label exec, something. New York is chock full of people of color making moves."
I think a healthy thing would be to question the need for a television show to mirror your life. I mean, I used to watch The Addams Family and wish that I could sleep in coffin and drink fog and have a pet dragon. Later in life I used to watch Saved by the Bell and feel envious of everyone's straight floppy hair and flip phones. Neither of those shows had much to do with my actual life or background, but thankfully, even at the age of "my whole life since birth" I knew that TV shows were just for entertainment and that's it. If you want to be fully enriched by a television program, maybe just stick to PBS and I'll sit here eating a hot dog and laughing at you (stole that line from my boss). Also, read a fucking book for once in your life. It's a much more reflective activity that could—DURRRR—make you a bit smarter! (stole that one from him too).
Further evidence of why this whole thing is stupid:
1) Downton Abbey.
That's all. There's no number two. Remember how everyone was all like "Downton Abbey is THE BEST SHOW EVER" three seconds ago? That show is about dusting a horse and ironing handkerchiefs. Who the fuck does THAT show cater to? Oh. Everyone. I see.
In conclusion: Shut up.
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