The Subversive Realism Of Lena Dunham’s Whitopian Comedy GIRLS
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Most readers are probably not in the 18-35 year old liberal female target demographic of the HBO darkish comedy series Girls, which premiered its second season and won the Golden Globe for best comedy series on Sunday, January 13.   Still, the first season’s show was—unintentionally— the most Politically Incorrect and subversive show in years. 

Girls stars four 20-something girls.  They come from upper-middle class families, attended schools like NYU and  Oberlin, and begin a life of unpaid internships and unfulfilling sex, living in gentrified areas of Brooklyn.

The show self-consciously models itself on Sex and the City, in that it stars four single females living in New York.  But the actual substance of the shows could not be further apart. The portrayal of promiscuity in Sex and the City was completely at odds with how women actually act.  This fact eventually became so apparent that even The Simpsons mocked a parody Sex and the City show called Nookie in New York—"It's about four straight women who act like gay men." 

Samantha, the most promiscuous character in Sex and the City is an extremely successful business woman who simply understands her own sexual power.  In contrast, the promiscuous Jessa on Girls uses sex for petty reasons, sleeping with her ex-boyfriend solely because she found he was engaged, and manipulating her “boss” (the father of the children she is nannying) and nearly destroying his marriage.

Steve Sailer once wrote that he suspected that the writers of Girls may be channeling Roissy, the anonymous writer of the anti-feminist “game” blog Chateau Heartiste. There is certainly some substance behind this.  The most attractive girl on the show, Marnie, gets turned off and bored by her extremely nice guy boyfriend, but becomes interested again when he dumps her and she sees him with an attractive new girlfriend.  The main character, Hannah, continues to go back to a creepy and verbally abusive guy she sleeps with every two weeks when he texts her, but when he finally shows actual interest in her, she rejects him.

In most modern Hollywood shows, no one ever has an abortion.  Hit films like Knocked-Up (directed by Girls producer Judd Apatow) and Juno are premised on upper-middle class whites with unplanned pregnancies deciding to keep their babies. Sure enough, when the single attorney Miranda gets pregnant in Sex and the City, she keeps the baby after long deep discussions with her girlfriends.

But when Jessa got pregnant in Girls, there as almost no agonized introspection among her or her friends.  While she has a convenient miscarriage, it occurred after she was drinking and having more casual sex with a stranger.  Hardly showing an empowered, or caring, woman.

National Review’s John J. Miller absurdly listed Knocked Up and Juno among the greatest conservative movies of all time on the grounds that they were implicitly pro-life.  In reality, of course, these movies gloss over the reality of abortion. I suspect the fact that attractive, intelligent white women have relatively few abortions is a subconscious motive for quite a lot of pro-abortion enthusiasm.  In contrast, seeing smart attractive white women like Girls’ Jessa selfishly planning abortions to prolong their adolescence is much more damaging to the pro-choice cause.

Sex and the City pushed gay rights probably more insidiously than any other recent show.  The “fifth lady” of Sex and the City is the incredibly stylish and sophisticated gay man Stanford, who gives the ladies great fashion and relationship advice.

Whether or not he set the prototype, I have found that many 20-something girls love the idea of having a “Gay BFF” to dish on fashion, sometimes even calling him their “Stanford”.  Ironically, this sort of idealized stereotypical gay on television promotes the gay agenda much more than would a realistic portrayal of gay relationships.  The latter could hardly avoid homosexual sodomy, which to all straight men and most straight women is disgusting.  However, by emphasizing gays as flamboyant sages of fashion and fine wine, the sodomy becomes just an afterthought or rumor.

In contrast, in the first season of Girls, Hannah discovered her ex-boyfriend Elijah is gay.  He had gay mannerisms, but he was not close to being as over the top as the Stanford or the gays in Modern Family or Glee. Moreover, his sodomy was put front and center: Hannah learned he had given her genital warts.

Similarly, the idea of a “gay BFF” is debunked: Marnie goes to Elijah, whom she barely speaks to, expecting a shoulder to cry on over her relationship problems, only to be viciously denounced by him.

With the exclusion of a few blogs, Girls have received virtually no criticism for its depiction of the fruits of the feminism and the sexual revolution.  What caused an uproar was the alleged lack of diversity on the show.

Non-Hispanic whites make up only a third of New York City and Brooklyn’s population. But the show’s stars, recurring characters, and even all but a couple of the extras at parties and bars, are white.

This is, in fact, a completely accurate portrayal of the gentrified communities in Brooklyn. But we are talking about a Main Stream Media that complains about the lack of diversity in Lord of the Rings and inserts non-whites into stories of Norse gods and Medieval England.

Girls’ writer Lesley Arfin added fuel to fire when she mocked the concern over this lack of diversity by tweeting "What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME."  (Precious, for those who missed it, was a film about an obese black teenager living on welfare in Section 8 housing with a Downs Syndrome child.)

In the tradition of our opponents, I will simply “point and sputter” at a few of the more absurd MSM coverage of this great outrage:

  • “I love Girls but how come there’s no Black people (except a bum)? Could a young NYer have no Black or brown friends?”—From a tweet by black culture critic and MSNBC Commentator Toure
  • “Having exclusively white characters onscreen is hardly unique or original—it's merely that the talentless writer/director/actress of Girls manages to bludgeon her audience with white privilege in a way which makes Ann Coulter seem almost f[redacted because of censorware]g polite.” [Girls: Please Reach Puberty, by Ruth Fowler, Huffington Post, April 20, 2012]
  • “That’s definitely one aspect that is a little bit strange for people who live in New York City, which is this wildly diverse city, every time television does this.  Things are multiracial and multi-everything, you know? That’s the reality. You don’t see that in the characters. It’s kind of a little odd.” From CNN’s Sharron Waxman, [CNN Panel Slams HBO’s Girls For Lack Of Diversity: ‘Odd’, ‘Out Of Step’Mediaite, April 23, 2012]

As many critics notedGirls is hardly alone in its lack of diversity among television shows.  My guess: this show portraying upper middle class New Yorkers hits too close to home for many New York-based journalists and cultural critics—who probably have similarly undiverse personal lives.

The writers and producers of Girls are certainly not consciously pushing Politically Incorrect ideas.  Creator and star Lena Dunham starred in an idiotic Obama ad, promoting the president almost solely on his support for gay rights, birth control, and “equal pay.”  And Arfin immediately apologized for her Politically Incorrect tweet.

Similarly, Dunham has now promised Diversity in Season Two. As the New York Times reported,

Ms. Dunham dealt with the diversity dust-up by giving in — to a point. Her character returns to the screen with a sort-of boyfriend, Sandy (Donald Glover of Community), a good-humored, hip black law student who happens to be a Republican. Hannah can’t believe he actually likes her, but she also can’t believe he is actually a conservative. [The Edges Are Still Sharp in Brooklyn, By Alessandra Stanley, NYT, January 10, 2013]

Presumably this means Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner-type scenes—except the taboo will be dating someone who’s a Republican rather than black.

The 2013 season premiere did not mention Sandy’s conservatism, but it did open with an interracial sex scene between him and Dunham.  Elijah seems to be morphing into the gay BFF archetype, throwing cool parties (complete with black extras) for Hannah. And he is now eager to give relationship advice to Marnie.

What attracted me to Girls was its realistic portrayal of upper-middle class twenty-somethings.  As someone who comes from the same demographic, I recognized dozens of friends, acquaintances, and (alas) family members.  It is not at all inconceivable that a liberal, overweight, tattooed, and unattractive girl with serious relationship issues would end up with a black lover. The idea of a conservative black law student in New York City, however, is distinctly less believable.

Needless to say, critics still consider the show insufficiently diverse. In a Washington Post column entitled,Girls: Taking a real step towards diversity or just answering critics? Lauren McEwen concludes: “A show called Girls needs women of color to truly live up to its name.”

I hope this PC barrage continues. Perhaps people like Dunham will learn that starring in Obama ads and interracial sex scenes will not satiate the Diversity Police. They may as well stop worrying about them.

Timothy Barnett (email him) is a law student living in New York City

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