I like the show Girls. I think Lena Dunham is a smart, witty and savvy writer and am thrilled for her success. While I am a bit befuddled by her being assailed as the second coming to Gloria Steinem, I get why people like the show, and I get why people like to hate the show. I also find it laughable how preoccupied people are with Dunham’s naked body–it’s just so predictably American (but alas, we just finished debating Abortion rights in a presidential election). I even found the endless “there’s not enough diversity” debate that raged on when the first season of Girls premiered on HBO last year baseless and annoying.
As a Black woman who grew up in an extremely diverse private school, before attending an even more diverse public high school, then going on to attend a Historically Black College, I have a dirty little secret when it comes to my peer circle–I have one close White friend. My best friend since high school is White and Jewish. She’s still one of my nearest and dearest buddies and as far as I can see it, we will always be friends. The rest of my vast circle of girlfriends are Black. I live in Harlem and hang out with my Black girlfriends pretty much all the time (I moved to Harlem because it was once a Black neighborhood, but that is no longer…I digress). That is my life, that is my reality. For these and many other reasons, I supported Dunham’s defense of Girls as her own truth, as she told NPR’s Fresh Air:
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.
Who am I to judge Lena Dunham’s White Williamsburg reality. If that is her truth, and she chooses to share it, it is in no way disappointing and unrealistic as others suggest. I’ve never understood people who cite other people’s truths as not being “real life.” I know we’re all supposed to be living in some post-racial melting pot version of millennial America, but people still align and identify along ethnic and racial lines, and that’s perfectly fine with me.
Since I thought the “lack of diversity” criticism of Girls was silly in the first place, you can imagine I was quite intrigued when I heard Childish Gambino’s Donald Glover was joining the cast this season. Would he be the token Black friend? Perhaps the downstairs neighbor who supplies marijuana? No no, in fact, he would play Hannah’s newest love interest. Mouth agape.