I love ‘Girls.’ I think it is well written, the cast are amazing and Lena has become a big girl crush of mine for the sheer reason that she refuses to give up or give in to the constant criticism the programme is facing.
It would take too long to address all of the insults that ‘Girls’ has received so I’m just going to tackle the two that piss me off the most; the anger at the cultural diversity represented in episodes and the almost non stop bitching about Lena’s body.
I know that the show is seriously lacking when it comes to representing ethnic minorities – in no way am I ignoring or excusing that. What does piss me off though is that it isn’t the only show to do so. What does separate Girls from say, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Gilmore Girls, um, just about any programme on tv actually, is the fact that Girls is written by a woman. Call it stretching or making a mountain out of a molehill but come on. Lena has been attacked for the lack of any character who isn’t white and privileged and yeah, big issue. The lack of representation of ethnic minority groups on tv is a massive problem that needs to be tackled head on and not ignored but in the context of Girls, I think the criticism is unfair. Girls tries incredibly hard to tackle and subvert issues facing young women and yet can’t win. When Lena did write in a black character it was attacked as being a token or a meaningless gesture that came too late. My issue is with the fact that a lot of critics seem to be laying the blame solely at one shows’, or more specifically, at one young woman’s feet. As if Lena is single handedly blocking and marginalising the significance of people of colour. Her writing draws on her own experiences and I read an interview with her once where she argued that including other ethnicities in the interest of being PC is not something she feels comfortable with; she objects to the concept of tokenism and so refused to include a character for the sole purpose of pleasing critics which I respect.
There seems to be a real issue with society and successful women. We can’t seem to hack it. Any women who creates a market for herself and uses her ingénue to make money is torn apart; look at other successful women – Beyonce, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker – all face constant criticism for making themselves a brand and household name. The fact that Lena is young and not stereotypically attractive, seems to allow people to think she is fair game for attack which is wrong.
The second, and much more pressing, issue to me is that of Lena’s body. She is naked a lot in the programme but rather than celebrate the confidence she has with herself or congratulate society on letting a body that isn’t half starved and buffed to perfection make it onto a prime time show, critics seem to be foaming at the mouth at the ‘wrongness’ of it all. We are fine seeing breasts in newspapers, on tv and in films..as long as they conform to Page 3’s standard of how boobs should look. The fact that Lena has small breasts that, oh my, aren’t up by her chin or as round as beach balls, seems to have opened her up to vitriol and attack. We are constantly bombarded with images of women looking homogeneous; as if they came off a conveyor belt dreamt up by Hugh Hefner. For me, seeing Lena naked on tv makes me feel good. It shows women that other body types exist, that men can find different types of bodies attractive and that we have other weapons at our flirting disposal beside a size 0 figure and inflated lips, like, gasp, a personality or intellect. Lena is beautiful, she is normal. She has a figure that we can see up and down any high street. Yet we seem uncomfortable seeing it on our screens. I don’t get why.
My favourite character is Shoshanna – I think she is brilliant and so well written. I’m not keen on Jessa or Marnie but Shosh is incredible. She has a naive sweetness to her that I love.