I'm as young as I'll ever be.
And let’s not forget why ‘Girls’ is receiving this type of criticism to begin with:
Because it transcends all other criticism. How many famous television shows also take place in New York, focus on an ensemble, and cast exclusively white people? The writing is so much better than basically everything else on TV except for FX’s ‘Louie’ that there isn’t another angle to take. There are shows that are funnier (‘30 Rock’ ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’) and there are shows that are more dramatic (pick any of AMC’s Big 3) but nothing is as honest and engrossing (over its first 4 episodes, at least).
It took ‘Friends’ years to ever include a non-white character who wasn’t on the periphery and the minimal criticism that show received never came close to reaching the pitch we’re hearing thrown at ‘Girls.’ Not even close. But that’s because ‘Friends’ was never more than a sitcom a lot of people thought was funny. It could never dream to be anything more because on the commercial/art balance it fell soundly on the commercial side. ’Sex and the City’ is the easy comparison (HBO, New York, 4 women, it’s even name checked in the pilot of ‘Girls’) but everyone who uses it is quick to say “But they’re not the same thing.” What they’re really saying is “But Girls is infinitely better.” ’SatC’ was fun because it was a dream of fashion and the high life. ’Girls’ is great because it aspires to delve into the human condition in a real way.
I keep reading about the joke in the first episode, where Dunham’s character (while high) professes “I might be the voice of my generation.” I’m not going to go far enough to say something like that, but she is a voice we’ve never heard before. The show (again, not unlike ‘Louie’) is funny through its honesty and dramatic through its honesty, dealing with problems because they’re things that people have actually lived. The big secret in writing is that touching people on a personal level means you have to be willing to share things you’re not comfortable sharing. Letting go of our most closely guarded feelings is the only way to touch people where they didn’t think they could be.
Mind you, this is not an apologist post. A lot of the criticism surrounding the lack of diversity is spot on and it seems Dunham is taking it seriously. What I hope we all remember is that the reason the show is getting this heat is because it is so much better than any other show of its nature. Of course, you can talk to me again when I’ve seen more than 4 episodes.
NY Times has a more even-handed view of the race-related criticism of HBO’s ‘Girls.’
From the article:
But cloistered though it may be, “Girls” is a symptom, not the disease.
Television is nowhere near diverse enough — not in its actors, its writers or its show runners. The problems identified by critics of “Girls” are systemic, traceable to network executives who greenlight shows and shoot down plenty of others. It’s at that level that diversity stands or falls.
And “Girls” is hardly alone in its whiteness. Far more popular shows like “Two and a Half Men” or “How I Met Your Mother” blithely exist in a world that rarely considers race.
Calling out ‘Girls’ for its being monochromatic is blaming the car and not the driver.
Oh, what a ‘loverly’ time we are having in post-racial America. Except when the outrageous holy of holies of the American conservative movement elect to have their say, as happens often, most recently with right-wing oracles Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan.
It fell to Coulter, a successful author, columnist and Fox News contributor, to drive home the point that, notwithstanding what African Americans might think of the 14th Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation, we remain the property of white America.
Thus Coulter proclaimed on the “Hannity” TV show on Monday, during her stout defense of black conservatives such as Herman Cain, “Our blacks are so much better than their blacks.”
That is to mean, presumably, that Cain and other black conservatives belong to Coulter and her ilk. Blacks who don’t think like Cain et al. are, under Coulter’s line of argument, the property of white liberals.
Either way, Coulter would apparently have those of us of color believe that it matters not what we think or where we stand on the political spectrum but that, when it comes to the relationship of blacks to white folks, we still are theirs.
Coulter also attempted to justify her taste in blacks. Appearing on Joy Behar’s CNN show the next day, Coulter bragged that her black conservatives are “more impressive.” Show better on the stump, I suppose.
Thanks, Ms. Coulter, for reminding us of our place in post-racial America.