Call It What It Is: The Hatred Directed At Lena Dunham Is Petty, Childish Bullshit

Lena Dunham. Ah, Lena Dunham. Filmmaker, actress, writer. Subject of so much derision you'd think she spent her days throwing cats into airplane engines. When a new episode of Girls premieres, or we learn that Random House agrees to shell out $3.5 million for her first book, the internet goes apeshit. We're met with vociferous cries of:

  • Her show is dumb.
  • The characters are terrible.
  • She's entitled. 
  • Nepotism! 
  • Racism! 
  • She's ugly.

As with anything, there are legitimate criticisms that can be leveled at Girls, just as there will be legitimate criticisms leveled at her upcoming book. That's the nature of art (or else, what would critics and bloggers do with themselves all day?).

But it really seems like a lot of the hatred directed toward Dunham is coded language for: Why does this 26-year-old have a book deal and a hit show AND I DON'T?!

It's pathetic. 

Cards on the table: I'm a fan of Girls. And I tend to not be a fan of most things set in contemporary New York City, because they're almost always wish-fulfillment fantasies written by people who've never been here (I twitch every time someone pulls up to a bar or business and gets a parking spot right out front).

And I'm a fan of Dunham. I'll read her book. More than that, I respect her. She's four years younger than me and she's doing quite well in areas where I would like to do quite well. She makes me work harder.  

But you know what? It's frustrating to listen to people bash her when it's driven by a need for attention or self-validation. It's indicative of the worst fucking quality shared by (some, not all) writers—that seething pit of jealousy that makes you hate anyone who's accomplished something, because it wasn't you who accomplished it.

So, since no one's really yelled at me in a while, and I'm a glutton for punishment (though always praying for intelligent conversation), I wanted to go through the areas where Dunham is criticized, and talk about why I think they're unfair, unfounded, or just generally bullshit. 

Her success is due to nepotism!

Dunham's father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter. Her mother, Laurie Simmons, is a photographer and designer. I may not be the hippest person ever, but I'm maybe a little bit hip (I listen to No Doubt!). And I have never heard of either of these people. 

There are legitimate criticisms that can be leveled at Girls... but it really seems like a lot of the hatred directed toward Dunham is coded language for: Why does this 26-year-old have a book deal and a hit show AND I DON'T?!

Just because your parents are "famous" doesn't mean you're going to be famous. Want proof? Meet Chet Haze. He's an aspiring rapper whose real name is Chester Hanks. His father is Tom Hanks. Despite the fact that his father is one of the most famous movie stars in the world, he does not have a platinum record. In fact, Chet isn't really taken very seriously as a rapper (nor should he be, because, ugh). 

We live in a country—and especially in an era—when it's common for people to get ahead because they have an inside track. And of course it sucks to watch that. Look at Kim Kardashian. Daughter of a Z-list celebrity, she fakes outrage over a porn tape that, by all accounts, she released herself, and somehow builds an empire on it. That's a shitty way to get famous.

But to lump Dunham and Kardashian into the same category is the height of bullshit. Did Dunham have a greater degree of entrée into the entertainment industry, compared to most people? Yes, absolutely. Anyone who has that kind of entrée is a fool if they don't capitalize on it, and a liar if they say they didn't.

But from the bombs lobbed at her, you'd think HBO sent her parents a fruit basket on the day she was born with a note saying: Have her call us in 26 years so we can give her a show.

Put aside your feelings about what she does. You can't say she didn't put in the hours. 

She's entitled!

When her deal with Random House went through, Twitter was a scary place to be. People were angry. Effigy-burning angry. And the thing that really struck me is how many people were outraged that Dunham was "demanding" that kind of money for her book. Like it was her fault. 

Here's how people seem to imagine the conversation went between Dunham and her agent:

Lena Dunham: Hey literary agent, I demand that you get three million dollars for my book. Now send in someone for me to use as a footrest and do not make eye contact with me.

Literary agent: Yes, your highness.

Here's how that conversation probably actually went:

Literary agent: So, just like every other literary agent in the history of the world, I am tasked with getting the best deal possible. Because you are a popular celebrity, that could very well result in a bidding war that'll drive up the price for your manuscript. This is a good thing, because as Americans, it is not a bad thing to want to earn money from things.

Lena Dunham: Cool!

It's easy to look at a $3.5 million signing bonus and feel bummed—after all, who wouldn't want that kind of scratch? But to lay blame at Dunham's feet, that she somehow did something wrong or untoward by being offered this contract, is petty.

Blame Random House. They didn't have to pay it. Blame all the people who will probably buy it, for perpetuating a cycle.

And don't pretend like if Random House came knocking with that kind of offer, you wouldn't jump at it.

Her show is racist!

Girls was criticized in its first season for not featuring any minority characters in the principal cast. For the purpose of this conversation, it's worth noting that in the most recent census (2010), New York City registered a population that was 44.6 percent white, 25.1 percent black, 27.5 percent Hispanic, and 11.8 percent Asian. 

On the same day I read a "think-piece" about how Dunham and her staff are a bunch of racists, I went to a party in Greenpoint (a very hip neighborhood in Brooklyn, because again, I am a little bit hip). There were approximately 30 people at it, and the racial breakdown of the party was approximately: 99 percent white, 1 percent black, 1 percent Asian.

Mind you, this was not a Klan rally. But it was a good example of the fact that New Yorkers can be clique-y, just like anyone who lives anywhere else. There's not some magical quota we seek to fill. ("Guys, there aren't any black people out with us tonight, someone call Seth!") There isn't some edict that, in the enlightened liberal bastion of New York City, our social gatherings must accurately reflect the racial breakdown of the city. 

As soon as the race card got played, there was no way for Dunham to win. When Donald Glover showed up as a black Republican, instead of being an interesting role for a funny and talented person, adding a black person in a featured guest spot was deemed RACISM (according to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at least). 

Shortly after the show was first accused of being a breath away from endorsing separate water fountains, one of the writers (Lesley Arfin) tweeted the following: 

"What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME."

She then had to delete the tweet because the internet lost its collective shit (losing its collective shit is where the internet shines).

Was it the most articulate response to the controversy? Maybe not. But I get her point. I really do. The show is about a bunch of entitled white kids from well-to-do families. They live in a hipster bubble in Trendy White People Brooklyn. They all probably went to college together and they're from suburban towns. It's not outside the realm of possibility that their main social circle would be predominantly white.

Racism is a very real and troubling thing. Especially when people think that just because we have a black president that it's effectively over; it's not. But there are real battles to fight in the name of equality, and why does this have to be one of them? Especially when there are people like this in the world? 

I think the people who get upset about racism in Girls are, mostly, the same kind of people who quickly and forcefully point out that they have black or gay friends. It's finger-wagging, pearl-clutching, politically-correct nonsense. 

Her show isn't even that good!

This is an area where I'm willing to have an intelligent conversation about the quality of the writing/acting/direction/craft service. Personally, I enjoy the show, and I like the exploration of the mid-20s mindset. It's a time in your life when you're a big kid trying very hard at being an adult. There's a wealth of stories there. 

There are some criticisms leveled at the show, though, that make me think people don't actually understand it. That, or they've bought so hard into their own hatred that they can't watch it with a real critical eye.

Exhibit one: This line of dialogue, delivered by Dunham in the first episode: 

I may be the voice of my generation... or at least a voice, of a generation.

Perfect! It's clever writing because it reveals so much about the character in one sentence. But so many people mocked her for it, interpreting the line as a feeling Dunham actually believes about herself; that she's declaring herself the voice of a generation (when we all know it's James Franco). 

Then there's the criticism that all the characters are too unlikable. 


Isn't that sort of the point? How many people in their 20s are graceful, fully-formed people? The indecision, the pettiness, the immaturity—the show is a warts-and-all look at growing up. I really think a lot people don't like it because it hits a little too close to home, dredging up their own uncomfortable and embarrassing experiences (which, really, should make you respect the writing even more).

This, too, by the way, from the generation that worships at the altars of characters like Walter White and Don Draper, men who do very bad things to the people around them. Their portrayal is realistic... yet a bunch of kids trying to find themselves in contemporary New York City is too hard to grasp? 

She's not even pretty!

Why are you watching Girls instead of Tosh.0? Also, you're a dick. 

Let's learn to love each other

Ultimately, I really do believe that the hatred for Dunham is driven by feelings of jealousy—that someone so young can be doing well while you're toiling away in your cubicle/home office/coal mine. This feeling is especially prevalent among (some, not all) writers. Because why work on your own stuff when you could go on Twitter and complain about someone else's stuff? 

I'm not going to claim to be innocent here. I have hated—hard—on books like Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight, stuff that's mainstream but, to my mind, not worth any sort of acclaim. I'm making a real effort to be better about this. The time I spend complaining is time I could be spending making my work as strong as it could possibly be.

Will I make the sly joke every now and again? Maybe, sure. It's in my nature. But I'm not going to work myself into a tizzy just because someone else is successful. Especially when someone is clearly working hard to deliver on a vision.

Again, Dunham's work should be viewed through a critical eye, just like we view anything through a critical eye. But I charge that she is legitimately talented, even if her work isn't your cup of proverbial tea. Instead of bashing her, maybe ask why you're doing it, and focus that energy into something more positive.

Live and let live, fellow writers. Stop the hate and go write.

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Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading February 8, 2013 - 9:13am

Very glad to see you arguing this, Rob. There's a creepy, vicious side to this whole thing.

Fully in agreement.

Daniel B. O'Shea's picture
Daniel B. O'Shea February 8, 2013 - 9:38am

Oh for fuck's sake. 

She's 26 and she had the discipline to do the work, to develop a salable product, to make the pitch and get the deal. The rest of it is just lightening in a bottle magic. That's not her fault.

Just to be clear, I've never heard of her or of Girls, so I have no idea what I'd think of it. But this isn't Snooki's book or Glenn Beck's  book - some seven-figure bonanza the "author" didn't even write that fell into her lap because she got famous for being famous. Like it, don't like it, it's a legitimate project that happened to score big.

I just got my first book deal last year and I'm 53. Could I have written a book back when I was 26? Yeah, if I'd been more committed, more disciplined. The fact that I didn't ain't nobody's fault but my own.

Good for the kid, says I.

You want your own book deal? Write a book. You did? Write a better one.




Mary Nienaber's picture
Mary Nienaber February 8, 2013 - 9:46am

Excellent defense of LD all around. She is clearly a very talented artist and deserves her success. The comparison to Kim Kardashian is spot on. If we throw millions of dollars at that vapid idiot, why the heck not give Dunham a legit book deal? I can't wait to see what she does next. She hasn't even hit 30 yet and this is what she's already accomplished? I think it's inspiring.

And yes, if you don't think GIRLS is great, then you're just not "getting" it.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore February 8, 2013 - 9:50am

I love her. And besides, $3.5 mil is like a year's rent in NYC.

Her film, Tiny Furniture, was very similar to what became the show, though I think it works much better episodically on Girls. The most fascinating thing to me is how it spotlights the narcissism of a generation that grew up on social networking, each being the stars of a different version of some imaginary reality show. You can tell it's written from a girl like Lena's POV, because all the guys, unattractive and unappealing as they may be, always seem to be manipulators and getting what they want in spite of this fact. And the sex, I tweeted a couple weeks ago that it's "neurotica."

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine February 8, 2013 - 10:03am

3.5 mil to write about her FUPA. Money well spent.

leah_beth's picture
leah_beth from New Jersey - now in Charleston, SC is reading five different books at once. February 8, 2013 - 10:19am

I love that you wrote this, Rob. I run hot and cold on the show itself (the cocaine episode was a lot overboard, IMHO, but then this week's was one of the best things I've seen on television in a while), but I try not to begrudge Lena anything. I agree - she HAS worked hard, and with her portrayal of these annoying charicature-style characters, I do believe she's got her tongue pretty firmly in her cheek.

That said. I am indeed jealous. But who isn't, like you said. 

I never got to be a hipster in Brooklyn - but that was my choice. Nor did I work my ass off at her age to get shit done. Also my choice.

So...good on her.

(But I will still cringe at the gratuitous nudity in the show...mainly because I'm not into girls..but for those of you who are...enjoy!)

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... February 8, 2013 - 10:56am

Eh. I didn't really know there was an exceptional level of hate for Dunham. I don't have HBO, but I watched an episode of Girls when I had the chance and decided it wasn't something I wanted to invest time in.

And while 3.5 million is a lot for a first book, there are lots of people who have more money than me. Hating them won't help me at all. Besides, hating takes a lot of energy, and the people I'm envious of are people who create something I wish I could have made. As I've hinted, Girls isn't on that list.

So my response to both her success and those jealous of her success is a simple shrug.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer February 8, 2013 - 11:01am

Hey, if someone wants to pony up a three million dollar advance, more power to her. She seems cool. I'd like to see what the people that think she is ugly look like, because I would totally ask her out for a cup of coffee.

She has to pay though. She has 3 mil, it's only fair.

Jason Van Horn's picture
Jason Van Horn from North Carolina is reading A Feast For Crows February 8, 2013 - 11:03am

I remember when Girls premiered and after that first episode I was hooked. I never thought any of those things, but rather, "Wow, created, writes, acts, and directs (think she directed by what I recall) - now that's something." I suppose family connections could help, but if her stuff wasn't any good then she'd get her foot in and nothing more. Girls has been around for a season and change now, with a third season to come and a new show being developed for HBO by her, so you know what that means - talent and all hers. 

Anyone who can take an emotional breakdown in a tub and turn it on a dime into two girls laughing about snot rockets (without it feeling forced whatsoever) is something I'd love to be able to capture in writing one day. 

PS - I have no problem with Dunham's nudity (all for it).

DaveShepherd's picture
DaveShepherd from Calgary is reading No Country for Old Men February 8, 2013 - 11:26am

What was she supposed to do, say no?

"We'd like to offer you a 3.5 million dollar advance."

"Uh, sorry, I can't take that money. Because the Internet."

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 8, 2013 - 11:43am

Her show isn't even that good!

I've never seen an episode, and I don't have anything against (the show) 'Girls,' but it's perfectly fine to say that things aren't good/you don't like them. If it's okay for people to say they like something, it's okay to say they don't like it. If it's okay to talk to people about how much you enjoyed an episode of a TV show, it's okay to talk to them about how much you didn't enjoy a TV show. One is not more of a waste of time than the other.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 8, 2013 - 11:44am

It's not like people are accusing her of plagiarism; they're just complaining about the universe.

Sarah Ferguson_2's picture
Sarah Ferguson_2 from Alberta, Canada is reading The Martian by Andy Weir February 8, 2013 - 12:10pm

Thanks so much for writing this, I totally agree! Lena Dunham is so inspiring. Even though it's hard, I try to be humble enough to be inspired by and learn from people who are younger and more successful than me. Let's not drink the hatergade and just create! 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words February 8, 2013 - 1:04pm


never heard of her, her show, her book, the beefs, and I am most decidedly not hip.

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day February 8, 2013 - 2:58pm

I have seen every episode because I wanted to be fair. And I am probably not the key target audience, though I think I can spot quality when I see it. Does the show entertain? Yes. Do I begrudge Lena her success? No. But is the show really that funny when you think about it? Not really! I find myself smiling, but hardly laughing! And frankly it is kind of a version of Sex in the City only grimier and younger! Not for nothing, but four female friends in NYC! 

So I can certainly enjoy it on a casual level, admire Dunham for leaving it all out there, but I do think there is a valid argument to at the very least call the show quite overrated.


1979semifinalist's picture
1979semifinalist from California but living in NYC is reading Joe Hill's NOS4A2 February 8, 2013 - 4:08pm

I wrote this whole long (totally awesome - and hip!) comment only to have LR eat it.

I'll just sum up instead. Well said, Rob, well said.

Mo Jacobs's picture
Mo Jacobs from San Diego is reading The Wrong Goodbye February 8, 2013 - 4:22pm

I loved this post... I am a huge fan of her show and am looking forward to the book. It's easy to bash someone who's laying so much out there for everyone to pick apart, but at least she's done something. 

vladeeda's picture
vladeeda February 8, 2013 - 5:20pm

Hold on a second, I haven't seen or read of anyone who hates Dunham or her show as much as the author of this article seems to think. In fact, all I hear is how amazing and clever and brave she is - articles like this, defending her from some imaginary hoard of "haters". Even though I couldn't care less about "Girls," my issue isn't necessarily with her, it's with her supporters. People who are turning her into this icon for our generation - something she may not believe herself but that I hear spewed all over television and the internet constantly. Some seem to love and idolise her SOOO incredibly much, that it should only be expected that an opposing reaction of the same intensity is going to hit her back as a result.

Having watched her show, I can genuinely say found it exasperating to endure and simply foolish. I had to turn off tv because the statements her character and her friends were so ridiculous, I couldn't finish the episode. Also, the cause for the racist accusations are not from the fact that she has no people of colour in her series (though it doesn't help), as a multitude of American shows still have either an all-white or almost all-white cast. What was considered racist however, was her response to such criticisms, saying that she would never write for people of colour because she "could never understand their struggle." Obviously she realized that was a stupid thing to say and she back-peddled, but THAT was what really turned me off Dunham. You don't need  a PhD in African Studies to write in a black character, or in Native American History to include Native people, etc.

She's not the messiah of youth her fans seem to think her to be. She's not a genius writer. She has some clever lines, and people fixated on her because funny chicks with an attitude are trending right now. And to be honest, once people stop idolizing, the opposition'll stop hating. Enough about Lena Dunham though. Call it jealousy if you want, but I'm just tired of hearing about her.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading February 8, 2013 - 6:29pm

The icon of a generation is rarely the appropriate metaphor for that generation.

Sergio Mira Jordán's picture
Sergio Mira Jordán February 9, 2013 - 8:16am

I love Girls and I love Lena Dunham. I see this show from Spain. About racism it, I can remember  how also accused in their day to Friends or How I Met Your Mother to be racist, so... 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 10, 2013 - 2:35am

I don't know anything about Dunham that isn't rooted in controversy over her-- people criticizing her looks, people arguing about whether the show is awesome or stupid, etc. I don't watch the show or pay her too much mind. I will say when some internet "news" site or another released the treatment for her book I didn't feel like I'd be interested in it, but that doesn't mean it won't sell, and that's what advances are supposed to reflect, right?

And yeah, I sure wish I could get a few million for writing. I think most writers would love for someone to say "this thing you sent me? Yeah, how about a big fat fucking check?"

Earl Marischal David Greybeard's picture
Earl Marischal ... February 10, 2013 - 8:18am

I watched 2 episodes of the show on DVD.

And I must say, it's the most repulsive thing I've ever seen. 

It's the worst show that's ever been on TV.

I can't believe that kind of content is broadcast. It's quite smutty. I hope children don't watch these kind of shows.

Gawd, and I'm a open-minded lefty homosexual liberal with a checkered past, and still I find this show beyond the pale.

Emilia Jordan's picture
Emilia Jordan from Portland, OR is reading The Disappearing Spoon February 10, 2013 - 5:46pm

I also want to say that I think she's really brave. I mean, her character is sometimes really not that likeable and has an atrocious fashion sense in the beginning of season one (I'm behind, I don't have HBO, so I can only go off of what I've seen). And I'm not saying that facetiously. I think a lot of people, especially when writing something based on themselves and their real lives, would go in an entirely different direction, make their character seem a lot more perfect and stylish and blameless and wonderful. LD doesn't do that with the character that's based on herself. And that's really refreshing.

One thing that does bug, and I'm not sure if it's the writing or the acting, but while LD and her roommate seem more real, the other two girls, Jessa and Shoshana I believe are their names, seem more like charicatures. Again, that may have changed as I am behind on the series, but that did bother me in the earlier episodes. It was a strange juxtaposition that didn't really work for me. But I'm still a fan. And it's nice to see a TV show that's kind of gutsy and relevant written by a woman, a TV show that does something different when it comes to looking at sex and relationships and being female.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts February 10, 2013 - 8:06pm

I haven't yet seen the show (plan to watch it next week,) but this representing the generation thing. I think it could do that, in its superficiality, its ignorance and vapidity, but I am expecting it to not make me dislike the show itself but to make me dislike my role in such a generation, as a person who aspires to be creative. I feel completely alien to the idea of being a voice in Dunham's and my generation. And now I'm feeling morose about the whole thing.

Anyway, sounds like a good show. I hear there are a lot of naked hipsters in it. I recently found out that I am not a hipster, and that I'd probably get a lot more lady attention would that I were, much to my disconcert.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 10, 2013 - 8:09pm

If you are single and under the age of forty, you are a hipster.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore February 10, 2013 - 9:38pm

I recently found out that I am not a hipster

Hipsters are not self-aware, by their nature. It's also required that you live in an urban center. I'm a 39-year-old, but inhabit the 'burbs and most of my tastes are unironic. Also not skinny enough. So many disqualifications. I envy their hedonism, though.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts February 11, 2013 - 2:01pm

I was totally convinced I was a hipster. But apparently my band t-shirts fit too comfortably, and I actually do have a wealth of knowledge on topics I enjoy sincerely, instead of halfheartedly faking it in a sarcastic manner. Yeah, too fat too. Fuck. I guess I'm just a nerd. Tried to walk a line too narrow.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks February 11, 2013 - 7:12pm

All valid points, but...

1.) The title of your article could be the exact same but with "Kim Kardashian" in it. Why don't we bitch incessantly for SEVEN YEARS STRAIGHT when men release sex tapes for publicity? People need to stop fucking slut-shaming. Sorry, but you're only reminding people she exists when you mention her in an article. I'm going to go buy those shoes on ShoeDazzle I really liked but forgot about. Thanks for reminding me!

2.) Are we really getting worked up over the fact that they're difficult to like because of their realistic nature and not getting upset over the fact that Walter White and Tommy Gavins, protagonists of their shows, rape their wives and beat the shit out of everyone they come into contact with?

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 11, 2013 - 7:37pm

I would wonder why LitReactor was publishing a story about Kim Kardashian unless she was writing a book. Is she? I don't think it's right to slut-shame, either, but I DO think it is okay to draw a parallel when people are hating on how much money someone is getting for a book and claiming she is "famous because her parents were famous" to diminish her intellect, and comparing that with someone who has made a living off of looking really good and having a lot of (her parents) money. That said--I do love Shoe Dazzle, and I could have done without the reminder.

As for Walter White... he's supposed to be an evil fuck, so... there probably shouldn't be outrage that he does things that evil fucks would do.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 11, 2013 - 10:03pm


What a thing to envy.

I guess maybe you mean this in the way people sometimes "envy" a dog's life. For a moment, it seems appealing. Then you realize you are fully capable of chopping off your own balls, eating garbage and living naked on the street, and you get over it.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 11, 2013 - 10:05pm

Also, I've never heard anyone claim that Walter White (a fictional character) was the symbol of his generation or whatever.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore February 11, 2013 - 10:45pm

Anytime I've caught myself envying an animal, it's been an indicator of depression whose realization almost instantly snaps me out of it.

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day February 12, 2013 - 7:12am

I think that's the ying and yang of Girls - creating a show where you' can "root" for them, but they are flawed individuals, some of them very much so.  This fosters authenticity.

I never missed an ep of Breaking Bad and Rescue Me.  Totally fair point because those two men are truly horrible, particularly Walter White - in fairness, that show is about a massive fall from grace towards evil. But I never watched those two shows and wanted to be either of them afterwards, same with a show like the Sopranos or Entourage. I think people are highly entertained by these shows, but wouldn't use any of these people as even a small beacon in their life.  I'm not sure that divide exists in Girls.

But with Girls my question would be how come I don't hear more talk about how truly awful their behavior is?  How ridiculous some of their activity is in the shadow of the great recession?  I'm not putting any spoilers up, but if you watch the show, you know some of their actions are terrible (and some of the male supporting cast as well).  And the argument that they are young doesn't hold water.  Yes, they are young, but their brains have developed and they are typically very aware beforehand when they're about to do something wrong. So I think the young argument gets used a bit too often.

The article started with 7 reasons why its not fair to beat up on Dunham and her show, and I agree with the majority of those reasons.  What doesn't get talked enough about are legitimate, artistic reasons why the show is far from Golden Globe worthy.  Why it's not worth an Emmy (which I would imagine is in contention for))r. Why it's not a voice of a generation show! Why it's not really that funny (and I know it's not trying to be ha ha funny, but it's barely clever funny). And I'm saying this as someone who would have given Tina Fey and 30 Rock all the credit in the world for both cleverness and humor - and she never had the crutch of sex, nudity and obscenity to help her endeavor.

I'm out, nerds!!

BTY - remember when Hannah couldn't afford to live in NYC, so much for what could have been a realistic story line.  They gave up on that one, cause 15 hours a week a Grumpies isn't even paying utilities.


SConley's picture
SConley from Texas is reading Coin Locker Babies February 14, 2013 - 3:14pm

I don't know, every episode makes me laugh. There are some lines that are so funny and cleverly written that it takes a few seconds to process them. I think the show is a work of brilliance right now, there's nothing else like it on TV. I love Lena Dunham. She only had one line in This Is 40 and it was hilarious.

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon February 14, 2013 - 4:58pm

I am so uncool I don't even know who she is. But I see this a lot, so my opinion is on "who gets what and how we feel about it" in general.

When someone wins the lottery, we don't get mad. I don't recall big uproars about if they deserved it or not. We all know from the start that it's 100% luck. We all have the same chance. It makes sense.

However, when talent, work, experience, connections, etcetera, get mixed with luck, it's different. I think it is like jealousy but not exactly. Maybe more that people just like the world to work in what they consider a somewhat fair fashion.

When someone is dealt a terrible hand in life that they did nothing to deserve, we feel terrible. When someone gets an outrageous reward that is supposedly linked to achievement, but that we find wildly out of line with the dues they paid, many people don't like it. But, when someone is talented and smart and worked hard for many years, I think people are usually pleased when they get the big reward. 

I guess it comes from wanting to feel like our own efforts will pay off in relation to what we put in, too, rather than having it all seem random (because if so, then how stupid are we to keep plugging away?)

In entertainment (and writing!), there often doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to who is largely rewarded and who is largely ignored. Anything can happen. Maybe some just find the seeming randomness disagreeable, whereas others either don't personally connect to it, or even find hope in it. :)

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore February 14, 2013 - 4:59pm

It's pretty simple: they give big deals to people they believe have the potential to sell a lot of books. Now, how the author went about achieving such an attractive platform is what usually inflames the jealousy and/or self-righteousness in others. That's why I get steamed when I see celebs without any literary merit given book deals, because I simply hate seeing hack work rewarded in any form. But that's not the case here (though I don't think they'll make their investment back). Sure, I'd rather see 30 authors receive $100,000 deals instead, but that's not realistic, either, given the requisite marketing resources needed to support them as well.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 15, 2013 - 5:47pm

agree about 90% with this column. Breaking down the hating/bashing as logically as possible, I'll say that:

Talent + hard work + nepotism = near guarantee of success (like Ms. Dunham, who I think is quite clever and talented)

No Talent + hard work + nepotism = some chance of success, but nowhere near a guarantee (see: "Chet Haze". Also see: Kim Kardashian :/  )

Talent + hard work + no nepotism = success.... but it might take a while

Mick Cory's picture
Mick Cory from Kentucky is reading everything you have ever posted online and is frankly shocked you have survived this long February 17, 2013 - 10:29am



Hart, your sycophantic attitude reflects the growing movement, especially in this country, to lower the bar, all bars, so everyone can step easily across them. While I grant that much of the din regarding this woman is not based on any authentic critical examination of her "work", this aversion to critical thinking, to the concept of critiquing the human animal in general, is appalling.



Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day February 17, 2013 - 5:35pm

@ Mick <impressed whistle>

Wish I'd had the balls to think of that.

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon February 17, 2013 - 9:47pm


jgabbard42's picture
jgabbard42 from Indiana is reading Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher February 18, 2013 - 3:33pm

Congrats to Daniel B. above for the book deal!  As a 48 year old, I find your getting your 1st book deal at 53 much more inspiring than this silly show.  Well done.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks February 20, 2013 - 9:48pm

I'm sorry, but I'm a flaming feminist. My point wasn't so much about the content of their shows, but about the relation between my Kardashian comment about slut shaming and the fact that Gavin and White aren't hailed as good people, but the rapes are just minor plot points (because in Rescue Me, she doesn't hate him, and [I've never watched BB, this is based off second-hand accounts] in Breaking Bad, she forgives him).

But yeah, every comment about my second point was absolutely correct. I didn't phrase it well.

Justin Tomes's picture
Justin Tomes February 22, 2013 - 11:07am

At a party of 30, if 1% are black, that's 0.3 of a person. It takes a pretty racist writer to say that the previous valuation of blacks at 3/5 was too high and should have been 3/10!

Elinor Jane Scott's picture
Elinor Jane Scott February 27, 2013 - 1:50pm

I like 'Girls' and find it uplifting that we finally have a TV series about young women by someone who knows. Bits of it are very funny and original and to be saying it's inferior to 'The Wire' or 'Madmen' is not saying much as those are considered two of the best TV series ever!

Ms Dunham will attract a barrage of criticism for being female above all, and daring to be successful and talented in the media. When is a male actor/writer/director going to be called 'ugly'? Let's have more like her, both to reflect the experiences of the other 50% of humanity and to provide some respite from panoply of blemish free supermodels we are elsewhere made to feel we ought to resemble.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day November 3, 2014 - 8:07pm
Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this November 4, 2014 - 11:10am

I presume you're sharing this, Nick, so we can see what a shit publication The National Review is. 

I'd like to think they were human enough to feel some shame over that disgusting fucking caricature, but I'm sure they're not.