The past few weeks since the second season of Girls aired on HBO, I have been a little irritated by all the bad press Lena Dunham has received. I’m not a huge fan of her or anything, in fact I think her writing can be a little boring at times. She has proved time and time again, however, that she is successful and, most importantly, funny. The most bothersome critiques, in my opinion, are those allegations that she is a racist. “Where are all the women of color?” asked one of my good friends while we were discussing Dunham’s work during the Golden Globes.
Well, friends, let’s be honest. Writers, unless incredibly creative (or insane), will typically write about what they know. Lena Dunham knows about being a white 20-something writer in a trendy neighborhood in NYC. Mindy Kaling knows what it’s like to be an awkward, chubby Indian girl. Tina Fey knows best about being a sketch comedy writer for NBC. That’s just the way it goes. People are going to write what they are familiar with.
As far as I can tell, criticism for Dunham’s work has stemmed mostly from her incredible internet presence. Active on both Twitter and Instagram, she posts photos of herself, her friends, her dog, and her trip to India with her mom. She posted a rather distasteful photo of herself replicating the “look” of Muslim hijab, which she later made a public apology for after rubbing many people the wrong way. She also made a statement on election day regarding her vote for marriage equality. Fans (or foes) have the ability to peer into Dunham’s personal life and make judgements that would not be possible without this level of exposure. Other female TV writers are and have left more to the imagination in terms of personal lives.
The times, they are a-changin’. Maybe no one thought to ask where all the people of color were on Cheers, Friends, or Seinfeld. Did anyone ask Bonnie Hunt why David Allen Grier was the only recurring actor of color on Life With Bonnie? Probably not. It seems to me that Lena Dunham is a young, talented actor, writer and director who is doing something few in the industry have yet to attempt: she’s putting it all out there for the world to see. Regardless of the diversity of her actors or personal friends as documented by social networking sites, she is young, talented, and sticking her neck out there.