With GIRLS making a return to our screens, the internet is about to be swamped once again with think pieces, #hottakes, and questions of ‘did Lena Dunham just say that out loud?’ Whatever you think of the creator behind the show, its dubious intersectional credentials, and the fact that all four of the main characters carry a certain level of privilege that feels all too fortunate in the US of today – you can’t deny that the HBO series gave a platform to women and their whims, or as we should call it-the importance of our own self-indulgent narratives.
If you think of ‘great’ literary works that lean towards the autobiographical-The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, literally anything cobbled together by Jack Kerouac, you can often see men at their most self-indulgent. The narratives found in these works of art center on the mundane, the everyday, and the minutiae of the characters’ lives. Lauded by those with a critical eye, it seems that men’s stories and male narratives are deemed of a higher importance.
When it comes to TV, popular shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad focused on the inner turmoil of a white man. Moral dilemmas, more screen time in a therapist’s office than female protagonists are usually permitted at all, and an entire episode of Walter White chasing a fly around a lab are all perceived to be interesting and worthy of watching. Why is it then, considering this, that shows like GIRLS are criticized for the very same things that male-centric art and media are praised for?
Lena Dunham’s GIRLS brings female narratives to our television screens where the characters feel like people you could know in real life. Coming in after an era where the two options were the sheen of Gossip Girl and 90210, or the star-crossed love affairs of any white chick and a mythical creature, GIRLS felt like a voyeuristic peek into what our generation was really up to.
While refraining from claiming that the show speaks and appeals to everyone, (far from it), the point here is that Lena Dunham (for all her supposed flaws) claims and indulges in sharing her own experiences. Four white Brooklynites and the hapless coping mechanisms they develop as they make their way in the world is her tale, and she has the right to tell it.