Lena Dunham Explains Why Her ‘Girls’ Are All-White

by Britni Danielle

Since premiering last month, Lena Dunham’s half-hour HBO dramedy Girls has been both praised and criticized by the public. While Girls has been hailed as “the best show of the year” by the Daily Beast, others have been very critical about the show’s lack of diversity.

Girls follows four 20-something women as they try to make it in Manhattan. Despite living in one of the most racially diverse cities on Earth, the world of Girls is shockingly white and, to some, very annoying.

While many watch the show, wondering how it will develop (and if it’ll become more diverse), Dunham says she’s thankful for the conversations the show has sparked, namely those dealing with race.

Dunham explains on NPR’s Fresh Air:

“I take that criticism very seriously. … This show isn’t supposed to feel exclusionary. It’s supposed to feel honest, and it’s supposed to feel true to many aspects of my experience. But for me to ignore that criticism and not to take it in would really go against my beliefs and my education in so many things. And I think the liberal-arts student in me really wants to engage in a dialogue about it, but as I learn about engaging with the media, I realize it’s not the same as sitting in a seminar talking things through at Oberlin. Every quote is sort of used and misused and placed and misplaced, and I really wanted to make sure I spoke sensitively to this issue.”

Dunham, the show’s writer, creator, and star, also explained why she didn’t include any black characters on the show: she just couldn’t write them authentically.

“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. If I had one of the four girls, if, for example, she was African-American, I feel like — not that the experience of an African-American girl and a white girl are drastically different, but there has to be specificity to that experience [that] I wasn’t able to speak to. I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, ‘I hear this and I want to respond to it.’ And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can’t speak to accurately.”

Hmm…so I guess Dunham doesn’t have any black friends she can bounce ideas off of? And if the experience of black and white, privileged 20-somethings isn’t so different, I don’t see how including a more diverse portrait of the city could do any harm. But hey…it’s not my show.

I’ll give Dunham the benefit of the doubt, though. Considering she was writing from her experience, I guess I can’t fault her for writing what she knows. If she’s used to interacting with all-white peers, just like many of us have an all-black crew, I guess I can’t fault her for it. But I will be keeping an eye out to see how Girls will deal with its “diversity problem” and if the non-white Girl they will most certainly end up including in the show sticks out like a sore thumb or blend seamlessly into the group. I’m hoping for the later, but you never know.

What do you think of Laura Dunham’s response to the critics? 

  • apple

    That show is pathetic as hell and I get second hand embarrassment for her if that is really her life (which I doubt since daddy is rich with connections to get her this sh*t show in the first place) I feel she did us a favor. The show is about a bunch of basic white girls living off parents money with no guidance,stds, bad relationships and just patheticness all around. Thank you lena that’s the last thing we need.

  • BackStabbed

    I swear, turning EVERYTHING into a race issue is exhausting. Sex & the City had an all white cast and was awesome. Living Single had an all black cast and was awesome. Good TV is Good TV. That is all…

  • http://www.afuturemd.com Mel

    I do not believe this show is a reflection of life in one of the most diverse cities in the world but it is about *her* life. I cannot fault her for not having a diverse group of friends. To force her to do so would be forcing something that is not natural to her or interesting to people who are looking for diversity in humor and experience. Still, I cannot watch this show. I do not care if the cast was the all female cast of Captain Planet. It’s just not funny.

  • maemay

    The girl does’nt have any black friends…so what…some black girls don’t have white friends…give it a REST!!

    I’m all for diversity but not everyone knows how to write it…and when they do they F it up! They know their weakness as a writer.

    This is embarrassing. Let people write their own stories and honest diversity.

  • Toppin

    Thank you. Had this woman written a black character and placed stereotypes on her because she doesn’t know any better folks would be screaming murder.

    I would far rather white people leave black people out of THEIR shows than show us in a negative light (many of them are incapable of writing for black characters…at least this chick knows her limitations) just for the sake of diversity.

  • LKJ

    My response to her statement: eh.

    Any “token” they cast will be criticized for an inaccurate portrayal of black, asian, hispanic, or whatever women. Most televsion shows exist in a vacuum where all minority women are some weird monolith who think act and feel the same way.

    A truly diverse show about 20-something women would be able to showcase the diversity you find amongst members of the same ethnicity.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/clnmike Tonton Michel

    Sounds sincere and honest if she faked it it would show and people would go crazy about it, cant fault her for writing from her experiences.

    This right here, “And if the experience of black and white, privileged 20-somethings isn’t so different….”, come on now, really? If it wasn’t so different this site wouldn’t be up and winning now would it?

  • Lulu

    I think her reason is fair… Personally I’d rather have no black people than the same tropes. A little diversity would be nice, but it doesnt sound like shes planning on talking to any POC in the near future

  • Ms. Information

    90% of television involves a white face…..just turn your television on an average Saturday…why is this show in particular being called out when television is whitewashed on every scale?

  • H

    Why are we still talking about this show? The cast is all white. Who cares? So was Friends, Frasier, Sex and The City, Will and Grace, Everybody Loves Raymond and many more. Shows with black people in them them tend to have all black casts too. There are many people that lack diversity in their friendships. Is that a crime nowadays?

    She is much classier than I would have been about the criticism. This is her hard work that she should be enjoying and all she is getting is criticism because she didn’t tokenize the show. When Tyler Perry hires black people for most of his movies, should white people get upset b/c America is so much more diverse than the cast of Why Did I Get Married?

    Will this site ever let this issue rest? Don’t watch the show if you don’t like it. Continuing to complain about this issue is pretty pathetic in my opinion.

  • binks

    She can miss me with the explanation because frankly I don’t care, I’ am not interested in her show nor her “experience” besides if her experience is what I saw from the pilot episode than clearly she doesn’t have much to convey that I deem interesting. Furthermore, I don’t see how this show is “out of the box” or “refreshing” to me it is the same old water down story from pervious shows with just different faces and a new generation nothing more nothing less. And I’ am not even mad that she doesn’t have a diverse group of friends, the majority of people be it black, white, Asian, etc. rarely stray from their bubble of their own reality or life how “THEY” know it. I hope Ms. Dunham is a hit with her target audience which frankly doesn’t include me and that’s okay, different strokes for different folks.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Just delivering news. We have discussed it a lot on this site and now we have to allow her to say her peace. Also, just because you don’t want to be updated on this topic – doesn’t mean others do not. We have to present both sides on this topic – it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t.

  • Lucky

    Apple, if I could give you a thumbs up, I surely would. Personally, I could give less than a damn about that corny ass show.

  • Isis

    Im tired of blk ppl begging to be a token. If I wrote a show all my girls would look like me. Next ———->

  • http://thefashionclones.com Mel

    She addressed this issue honestly and who could fault her for that. She was writing about her experience. I rather it be real than something that just doesnt come from an honest place. It is about four white females trying make it in NYC. No designer clothes or swanky restaurants or millionaire men? Sounds relatable to me. And although an all white cast, I am sure job struggles, weak sex, broken relationships, stds are all universal issues amongst women and 100% relatable regardless of race. So i am not offended nor do I need to see a person of color on the show, especially ater hearing her response.

  • rand

    Same bullshit supremacist excuse, different day.
    Until someone has the balls to present the diversity of this country (like Gene Roddenberry did 46 years ago) instead of suck the teat of conformity, nothing is going to change.

  • http://grinderskeepers.blogspot.com Keanna

    It was classy of her to address the backlash. Sounds to me like she’s being honest. But, I agree with several of the other comments. I’d prefer to have no diversity than to see the same stereotypical roles of minorities just thrown in for good measure. The show is funny to me and although I can’t relate to the characters, I see it simply as entertainment.

  • http://msanomalous.com Victoria Shantrell

    Most people live in racially segregated worlds. I know I do. And even when I am around non-Blacks, the way we experience the same social event is extremely different. The Black experience and white experience, regardless of age but perhaps especially apparent in early adulthood, is very different. The way we express our sexuality, the way we talk, the clubs we go to, what work and careers mean, etc is very different. It would be more contrived (and maybe even dangerous) to put a Black girl in this show. It’s okay to have shows that leave out Black folk; just like it’s okay to have shows that leave out white folk. Hell, I love Mad Men which for the most part has been lily white.


  • rosie

    blah, blah, blah. Are we really waiting for and dissecting an apology on this matter?

  • Elissa

    Honestly, I believe her when she says she writes about her experience. The issue needs to be addressed is where ARE Blacks in Primetime television? There are NO ALL Black casts on regular television. Where are the Cosby shows, the Different Worlds, The Jefferson’s? There is definitely a Black out !

  • Alexandra

    With the exception of a few seems a lot of people bothered (or want to be bothered) by casting are White liberals and a certain portion of Black women. I don’t like how the discussion has been so Black and White either, as if all Blacks are offended by the casting. Or that Asians, Native Americans and Arabs don’t exist?

    I think her response was honest. She doesn’t know any Black women. So?
    It would be hypocritical of me (and many others) to complain about her lack of friendships/inclusion of Black women on her show, when I myself have mostly Black friends and would write mostly Black characters if I ever wrote a show about my life.

    Would you rather her write a Black female character that would continue a long line of stereotypes already being fought daily? Or rather her write only what she knows? The women on her show are not perfect, and judging by some of the issues the characters deal with, if one of the ‘girls’ were Black she’d still be a stereotype. I say it let it go. Seriously. In a time where some Black women feel constantly attacked, I think less media mention (positive or negative) would be of great service.

  • H

    Yes! When was the last time there was a show with an all black cast on ABC, NBC, CBS, or FOX? The last large minority cast that I can think of was Outsourced with an Indian cast. It didn’t make it. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think white audiences find it difficult to relate to shows where the cast isn’t white. They see it as a show made just for minorities. I don’t know why. God knows I had no problem thinking that I was Ariel in the Little Mermaid. A good show is a good show. I mean white audiences watched Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

    Advertisers want to reach as large of an audience as possible. That means they need white people to watch. I guess that means their shows have to have a majority white cast or else the white audience will be turned off.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Uhm I saw last night’s episode and that chick Shoshanna is a mess. When a man wants to eat, let him eat. You just ruined at good thing for yourself.

    Shoshanna’s chracter is the only one that I would dry a line to Sex&the City. She is a real life Charlote.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    I’ll give Dunham the benefit of the doubt, though. Considering she was writing from her experience, I guess I can’t fault her for writing what she knows.


    Much better than a mammy character. If you can’t do it right, just leave it alone.

    If Lena decides to add a blk character next season, she can find a blk writer who can walk both worlds with ease.

  • Alexandra

    I think it’s really unfair that Lena Dunham’s show is taking all the heat for lack of diversity. It’s an important conversation to have, but I also wonder why this conversation didn’t come up before with the three million other shows on TV that lack diversity. I think because she is a woman we expect more from Dunham, but is it really fair to hold her more accountable for this than all the white male filmmakers who currently dominate the industry?

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    I don’t think this show isn’t suppose to be funny. Girls falls into the mumblecore genre. Some mumblecore films are utterly dreadful. They make Jean-Luc Goddard’s worst look like masterpieces.

    The best mumblecore films I’ve seen are Daddylonglegs and The Pleasure of Being Robbed.

    Hannah Takes the Stairs made me want to stick my head in an oven.

    So if you dare to watch one, just be forewarned.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Ms. Information,

    As a rule of thumb, any show about NYC that lacks diversity gets called on it. Friends, I think Seinfield, and certainly Woody Alien have all been called out for their lack of diversity.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    H but I think white audiences find it difficult to relate to shows where the cast isn’t white.


    There was the show with the two blk CIA agents that failed about a year or two ago.
    There was also a show about a Black hospital (like a blk ER) and a Black soap opera(“Generations” I think), all failed because they couldn’t get a large enough audience.


    This is a clip from Generations^^^

  • Rakel

    So far I have only seen the trailer and I liked it. Because as a twentysomething I can relate somewhat. Although i was annoyed at the lack of diversity. I believe and appreciate her statement regarding writing from her own experience. After high school my multiracial friend circle became all Black. If I wrote about my experience it’d be w/a mostly Black cast. I prefer not to be viewed rather than viewed negatively. Maybe if they have a successful first season they’ll hire minority writers who will write minority characters authentically.

  • apple

    Chic noir ! My mom walked by the tv with it on an empty room of the house and said “don’t watch that show ‘Girls’, I think it’s wrong for adults to portray children in pornographic situations!who wrote this trash how did it get reviewed! They must not have read the script!” Lmfao she thought it was like kiddie porn on hbo ! Lmfao I tried to explain and she wasn’t hearing none of it!

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com/ girlformerlyknownasgrace

    I would rather have a show not feature Black people than have them feature Black people from an inexperienced perspective.

  • marie

    I don’t remember The Cosby Show having a problem with diversity; can someone tell me why that was?

  • JC

    I thought she was reasonable. Now I actually kind of prefer that she doesn’t force diversity into the show. Just speak what you know, acknowledge what you don’t know, and learn as much as you can about what you don’t know.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    …. for the same reason no one was complaining about diversity on Dallas.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    I honestly think she ran into the problem by calling it girls when clearly the show is about specific white girls…had the show been called something else I don’t think there would be this much backlash….sex and the city was about white women but the title did not lead u on to think ud b getting some all inclusive show

  • ms_micia

    She said all that to say basically: Black women, this show aint for you. At least she was honest about it. We get BBW and white women get fully formed scripted shows about their experience. Jews and WASPs should be so grateful for their complete power over the imagery and strong hold on entertainment. It’s a shame that she could, however, with a straight face answer as if she couldn’t colaborated with someone African American to give it aunthenticity, or that a show so boldly and broadley titled “Girls” would somehow through her eyes be deviod of any culture other than white. She gave an accurate potrayal of HER experience, the experience of the very few elite white. Soooo…what’s the problem. She’s only doing what she’s allowed to do in the structure already in place. Want to see a black girl experience, watch Ackward Black Girl online and stop being mad about the system working how it’s always worked. Stop looking for validation and make your own path. Your story is just as important and interesting and if you want it told…tell it in the forum that respects it.

  • ms_micia

    Show’s from the mid-eighties and early nineties were a clear indication that the excuses we give for bad programming is straight nonesense. On every level there was more diversity in the way blacks were shown, from Cosby to Different World to Fresh Prince to Living Single, they were a prominently black experience that was all inclusive. There were blacks in every walk of life, coming in contact with every type of person. To assume that this push back to white washed television and Steppin Fetchit (sp.) type characters is insane to me. People have forgotten so quickly that there was a time that we saw ourselves diversely on primetime.

  • ms_micia

    If the playing field for our images, diversified and true were anywhere near even then I could respect yours and others comments about other shows. Show’s that deal with a niche of life, like and Italian family and their Italian in-laws, or a bunch of well to do “women about town” of the upper elite fashion world are more than likely not going to get a big protest about diversity. It’s an on purpose very specified walk in a very specific shoe. But a show called Girls, not “White Girls” or “WASP Girls” or even “Half WASP Half Jew Girls”, is specifically misleading and non inclusive. What that is basically saying is, “These girls are the only ones that matter, and that’s why they have a show speaking to their experience.” Ackward Black Girl speaks to my experience, but would a network ever greenlight it, more or less push it as if it’s the nice big thing. Probably not, know why? Because the system of entertainment, power and prestige has been and will continue to be white. So, I say she’s justified in her experience, but that doesn’t mean we can’t call it out for being non inclusive.

  • Diem

    I’m glad she didn’t fake it and add a “token” to this show. We need to stop looking for white america to include us in their projects and create our own. Issa Rae is a perfect example of success in this area.

  • Alexandria

    I understand and agree with Dunham’s perspective. She created a show that is genuine to her experience. I love to watch a good show with diverse, well developed characters like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, but I cringe when shows throw black characters into the mix with no real depth. Now if she feels she is trying to avoid the token black character then I can respect her creative decision. Also, I appreciate her sensitivity towards addressing the issue. She wasn’t super defensive.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    um, we don’t have to watch it……..

  • S.

    THANK YOU bk chick!!!!

    I’ve been saying that all along! The heart of the problem ISN’T the lack of diversity as much as it is the way it was marketed! If you’re going to name your show a generic name as “Girls” and with the tag line of “voice of this generation” YOU BETTA BE ALL ENCOMPASSING!

    Why, in 2012, do White people still market themselves as the ‘default’ race and not as ‘just another racial group’ LIKE THEY CLEARLY ARE? Because, they have NO respect for people other than themselves, that’s why!

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    @ S…ding ding ding!!..although I do think they respect others I just think it’s so easy to think only your kind of ppl are “normal” when you hold power in society…they don’t see themselves as specific, hence white = people in general, black = “black” kinds of people

  • http://livefromthematrix.wordpress.com TAE

    She gets my resepct and I’ve never even seen the show, no cable over here, netflix all day. Her response was well stated and makes a lot of sense and I dig the fact that she understands the importance of authenticity in character writing. It’s like we get mad when we feel there are black characters on television who don’t represent us properly but then when you have a show creator who didn’t write in black characters specifically because she didn’t want to portray us unrealistically or poorly, we got issues with that too.Can’t people just create anymore?! I feel like we’re living in a climate right now that has everybody extra sensitive about race and maybe seeing injustices where there are none. I remember reading an article on here not too long ago in which the author stated all her friends were black and it seems that is the case with Ms. Dunham, who knows. I think that there are worse racial offenders out here than Ms. Dunham , and there are issues more pressing than sitcoms that deserve the type of indignation I’m seeing.

  • PeeWee

    Can someone please tell me what the hell WASP is?? I thought it was an insect, but…

  • Humanista

    I mean…could the same be said about “Friends”? Or Two and a Half Men?…Or even Girlfriends? Blacks are friends. And many are men. White women have close friendships, too, right?

    I think the offense of the generality of the title is reaching, at best. While not ideal, I understand her position and I sincerely hope that no underdeveloped Negress just pops out of nowhere to combat the criticism. The fact of the matter is people are still very much socially segregated and, after the ceaseless mixer that is college, you don’t see many whites and blacks engaging past a superficial level willy nilly. It happens, sure, but not overwhelmingly. Even in NYC, which, in practice, is more of a tossed salad than a “melting pot”. I actually watched the first 2 episodes so far and while it’s not the greatest show I’ve ever seen, I found it to to be extremely relate-able, not just to my own life, but to that of my black friends.

    The show wasn’t mean to be Utopian, just a gritty portrayal of some people’s actual existences. I could totally get behind the racial criticism of this show if every other all-white cast show received the same…what is it about this particular show–this particular title?

  • Humanista

    WASP: White Anglo-Saxon Protestant :-)

  • http://www.whitneygracia.com/p/captain-of-my-soul.html Whitney Gracia

    After finally watching the pilot episode of Girls, I feel that 1) Lena Dunham shouldn’t be criticized for telling her story the way she wants to. 2) She’s 25! The fact that she has a show on HBO is awesome, even though it’s definitely not my cup of tea. I honestly respect her for the response she gave–I would’ve said the same thing. 3) “Girls” does not have a “diversity problem”—this is her story and people shouldn’t be angry if they’re not in it. If any of my peers had told me that I needed to include different types of characters in my short memoir stories when I was in undergrad, I would have refused: They didn’t live my life, and I don’t believe in changing my own personal stories to make “other people” more comfortable.

    If anything, I applaud Ms. Dunham for accomplishing her dreams at such a young age and serving as an inspiration for fellow twenty-something screen-writers.

  • Fa

    I’m kind of tired of this topic. Let the girl live! Her show is bloody hilarious and she’s said enough. Next!

  • Tami

    I liked her response. As a writer, I can relate. I write much better when I’m writing from my own perspective. Though I have an imagination, I find writing about a male character very, very challenging…So I do get her point.

  • stellaxo

    PSSSTTT! projectfreetv.com
    thats how I watch girls and breaking bad when i miss an episode..
    you get like 3 popups at first, but it plays perfectly from then on!
    -scurries away-

  • http://www.purplekeychain.blogspot.com purplekeychain

    “…but there has to be specificity to that experience [that] I wasn’t able to speak to.”

    So… white writers can’t create, or write for, non-white characters, and vice versa? Is that the new Hollywood PR tagline?

    I guess that means shows like Fraiser, Cougartown, Grey’s Anatomy, NYPD Blue, Golden Girls, Criminal Minds, ER — and the list goes on and on — should have had all black characters!

  • Tamera

    The problem I have is not with Dunham. She has the right to write, produce, and act in any kind of show that she wants. The problem that I have is that Black women and Black people support all these shows that don’t relate to us at all. It was the same thing with Sex and the City. I’ve heard many Black women compare themselves with Carrie Bradshaw, knowing that in reality the similarities are slim. And even when they included Jennifer Hudson in the movie (so we would come out and support) it was just a pacifying token role. The problem is not only the people that are writing and putting these shows on TV. We have to accept our part of the blame because we keep watching. Even the author of this article said that she was going to keep watching to see where the show goes. Why support someone who has clearly stated that you aren’t her intended audience?

    In as much, we frequently fail to support our own shows. They took Girlfriends off the air without a finale or anything. How many articles did you read about that? Not many. The only shows that we seem to support are stereotypical-crazed reality shows that don’t represent the masses of us at all. I can’t blame this woman for being loyal and true to who she is. Maybe we can get someone in Hollywood to take on the feat of writing a show about Black women from different walks of life that’s not a depressing Ghetto drama (believe it or not that’s not life for most of us). But a show that details our good times, awkward situations, and everyday plights that we have to laugh about just to get through the day. Somebody call Shonda Rhimes maybe she can make it happen!

  • A.

    Well, she’s honest. I would rather not see a black woman depicted than to see one portrayed inaccurately. I respect that she acknowledges the limits of HER creative license and cultural experience when it comes a realistic portrayal of a character. I don’t blame, as I don’t feel her omission was made in attempts to slight others.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i was with you until you said “soap opera Rhimes”.

    white people can produce what ever they please and black people can watch whatever we please. free market.

    we need Francesca or somebody new and fresh to write a show.

  • Nicole83

    I respect Ms. Dunham’s perspective and her decision. It’s like this: We complain when we ARE the token black character, we complain when a white writer attempts create a black character because isn’t “authentic” and now because Dunham has chosen not to cast any black characters, we complain about that too. I think, regardless of if this is her true reason or a calculated reason she developed after the criticism hit the fan, she is well within her right not to cast any diverse characters. As she said, this is supposed to reflect the “Girls’” world, so they don’t have black friends, big deal. Didn’t we just see an article about some people only having black best friends? It happens. No one should be made to include a certain set of characters to remain PC. We don’t do it i.e. Soul Food, My Wife and Kids, The Game (Kelly isn’t even hardly on anymore and when she was, she was the token, dont believe anything different), etc. So please, I’d rather someone be straight up with me and say I didn’t envision you as a character because you’re not in “my world” because at the end of the day, I might not cast them in my world either.

  • S.

    Humanista, read my post again

    It wasn’t JUST the lack of diversity and the non-specific title “Girls”…. it was the tag line AND all these other things *combined*

    Do you think there would’ve been backlash if “Girls” consisted of 4 Asian women who all looked alike and mentioned nothing of ethnic backgrounds who were marketed to be the a representation of this generation???

    Hell YES

    Dunham should’ve expected it too!

    Black people should NEVER feel ashamed for calling White people out on their arrogant privilege

  • http://theinfamoustronise.blogspot.com Infamous T Ronise (@tronise)


  • Rastaman

    Welcome to America, the home of the considerate racist, who excludes others because she did not want to offend them by providing them with an opportunity that, would appear to be tokenism. SMDH!

    I wonder how many of the commenters here who accept her response would be cool with that if they were denied a job because the person doing the hiring made such a lame excuse.

    We excluded you because we did not want to offend you by making you feel like a token. See how it played out for Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and Barack Obama.

    Are authentic black people so different from authentic white people?

    Have we become so used to being disenfranchised that we are willing to accept that they hired all whites because they did not want to offend us?
    I am sure the many black actors who would have loved a role on a HBO series based in NYC feel so lucky that Lena Dunham did not offend them by creating a role that they could have played. They probably got together and sent her a thank you letter for being so considerate.

    Admittedly, I have never watched the series primarily because the subject matter was unappealing and trite. However, I have followed the controversy and my question to Ms. Dunham and all the others behind her series is why couldn’t a person of color play one of the current characters?

    Maybe the truth is that Ms Dunham has no non-white characters because she really is color blind. In her view of her life she only sees white, everyone else is invisible. Ms Dunham is unfairly being criticized because the criticism should be directed at HBO and other such outlets that constantly green light these whitewashed view of America by Dunham and her ilk.
    Whose standard line it seems will be that they did not want to make people feel like token so they chose to not hire them for the role since people of color are so different from white people they cannot play the same roles.

  • 100

    I’ll bet they’ll have a token Black guy on there though ‘cuz best believe that’s part of the hipster girl experience.

    Just keepin’ it real. ..

  • Carol

    I agree with this. I remember when I first saw the posters in the subway. “Girls” was in giant lettering, and I though, oh maybe this is some gen-y hijinks that I can relate to. A reboot and reimagining of SATC. But I got closer to the poster and I immediately thought “Oh, they mean ‘white girls’”.

    I loved SATC and I don’t necessarily need a diverse cast in order to enjoy a tv show. But something about this was disappointing. I guess it’s the fact that Dunham is my age, and yet, her worldview is strikingly similar to that her predecesors. The more things change the more they stay the same and all that.

    Unlike many of the commentators here, I have an extremely diverse group of friends and feel incredibly enriched by that reality. But given the number of people who are delighted by their monoracial social circle, it may be that we deserve to have things stay the same.

  • Nadell

    Folks, why waste viewership on shows that make it their mission to NOT include you?
    Thursday nights are a perfect night for inclusivity:
    ABC’s “SCANDAL” (Kerry Washington), CBS’ “PERSON OF INTEREST” (Taraji P Henson), WEtv’s “MaryMary” (Gospel sister duo Mary Mary).
    There are plenty of shows that portray powerful women — women of color — people of color in a diverse, honest, inclusive way.
    There is no longer an excuse for lack of diverstiy so I refuse to waste my time on the folks and their shows that continue to segregate.

  • Lopinot

    I’m not sure why people are bing so critical of the lack of diversity. The writer has absolutely no obligations to make this expression of her own experience more racially diverse. She’s white and clearly her social circle is white. And that’s……ok. What’s the big deal. That doesn’t make her a racist!

    Look at the numerous all-black TV shows being broadcast these days. Are they racist because they lack a token white? Or a token Hispanic or Asian person. No.

    There were hardly any black characters on The Sopranos, and the few non-recurring black characters were almost always murdering, drug-dealing, anti-social maniacs. I don’t remember any public hue and cry about that. Black people loved watching The Sopranos in spite of its’ lack of “Diversity”.

    The first season of the Game of Thrones was all-white too…..did anybody make a big deal about that? Nope.

    Ms. Dunham has done nothing wrong.

    Besides, the characters on her show are, to put it nicely, clueless, spazzes, self-absorbed, whiny and annoying.

    Anybody that wants to see black people act out on TV has many, many other options!

  • Simone L

    Amen!! Everyone was up in arms now it’s like “yeah, yeah. She’s right.” Like geez. Give her a break, she’s telling what she knows. If I had a show about my life, it may not feature any Asians because quite frankly, I don’t know many. But guess what? I have that right to do that!”

  • Dante M.

    I’m a fan of this show and will continue to watch. I find it curious that this small show, written mostly by one 25 year old, is generating so much heat. The argument that since she called it Girls, it should represent all girls, seems kinda silly. It’s a pretty generic title. It also doesn’t seem like most of the angry comments are from people who don’t watch the show.

    If you have seen the first 3 episodes, you’d notice that in addition to there not being many black characters, there weren’t very many characters at all. There are the 4 main girls, then a handful of minor characters. They haven’t been out in the city, haven’t been shown at work, and haven’t interacted with anyone outside of their circle. The show had to establish the characters before they could start expanding their world.

    This weeks fourth episode was the first time the girls have started venturing out alone and interacting with others. There were blacks, asians, and latinos in the background. Hannah got a job and was befriended by 2 co-workers, one black and one latina. The British friend went to the park and talked to a bunch of other nannies, who were all minorities. (one of them was even a red headed guy)

    So now that the show has started to show a more diverse picture of NYC, I’m curious to see if the people who were so angry that minorities weren’t represented, will now start supporting the people they wanted to see on tv, by watching the show.

  • Angie

    +1. I think back to “Living Single”. Let’s see, did they have a White room mate? Nope. And that was ok, because the show was about the live’s of young upwardly mobil Black women. “Girls” is about the experience of young White women. The “Joy Luck Club” was about the experience of young Asian women and I could go on. Can’t identify with the experience of the chics on “Girls”, don’t watch it. Sometimes we LOOK for things to cry racism about.

  • d_nicegirl


  • saywhatnow

    this is ridiculous! its manhattan and a good amount of people live in that reality without a non-white face as part of their chosen reality.

  • Ravi

    this is a complete non-issue. She doesn’t need to write any black characters into her show. As if there is something wrong with your close friends having the same background as you. was it such a travesty that none of the Girlfriends was Asian? was it a big deal that the Huxtables didn’t adopt a little Cambodian orphan? who cares that none of the primary characters on Seinfeld were black or that every primary character on Living Single was black?

    I wouldn’t want some token included on the show anyway. the one black friend on all white shows is annoying; they tend to be walking stereotypes anyway. we have enough representation on television and movies. I’m more concerned about the way we are portrayed not the number of times we appear.

  • iQgraphics

    eventually… the return of “Domingo”

  • iQgraphics

    “Besides, the characters on her show are, to put it nicely, clueless, spazzes, self-absorbed, whiny and annoying. ”


    I have been in a room filled with this cast of characters at bars in queens/brooklyn (hipster parts). I’m fine with it, but it’s not an every day thing. I doubt I will be in any of those persons stories about their lives.

  • Shug Avery

    i just love this show, I’m Black but I identify with Hannah. how many of you have actually watched the show?

  • Whatever

    People please choose your battles wisely. I am sick of hearing about this show and at this point it is turning into free press and advertising for them. Stop the madness! Let this white girl tell her white story to her white audience… and move on.

    I can’t be mad because if I wrote a story from my own experiences as a twenty-something straight out of college, you would see black people. I went to a school with majority white students and you would still see black people. There would be diversity in background characters but all the front runners would be black. I was born, raised, went to undergrad and still live in NYC. My closest friends are all black.

  • NigerianBOOM

    Well actually Theo always had one white friend, so did Vanessa, so did Rudy. There was always a way of including other races. Cliff had a diverse group of patients… So yes there was a sense of diversity.

    My thought…why is it a problem when black people complain? & why in every case we go back to “…well so and so never did it”? Who cares. What was in the past isnt the matter at hand…this show is.

  • ms_micia

    Love everything you just said here. Agree 100%

  • http://n/a Ashley Akunna

    I think the complaints about this show are ridiculous. The show is based on the writer’s experience, she is not trying to fill a quota. I loved her response. This is a big case of people making something out of nothing.

  • http://laneewrites.blogspot.com LovelyAnon

    I’m confused as to why she needs to defend her show? There are plenty of TV shows with lack of diversity and they dont have to explain themselves. She wrote about what she knows & that is being a white girl. The name of the show shouldn’t throw anyone off, just because it’s called “Girls” my mind didnt automatically jump to a diverse group of girls. Leave the woman alone, its nothing new & its not that serious.

  • http://www.pinkpantiesandleopardlipstick.wordpress.com Myisha of Pink Panties & Leopard Lipstick


  • http://www.purplekeychain.blogspot.com purplekeychain

    Sorry, just saw the name “Shug Avery” and had to scroll back up the page to make sure I wasn’t crazy. Hahaha… love it!

  • http://www.pinkpantiesandleopardlipstick.wordpress.com Myisha of Pink Panties & Leopard Lipstick

    I’m torn… I agree both sides. While I think its wack that the diversity level is on -26… at the same time its her show… i can’t tell the girl what to write… if thats her perspective… thats her perspective… whateva… LOL

    I watch Gossip Girl religiously (dont judge me) and they JUS getting a lil sprinkle of Black folk… I wasn’t bitching then… so I won’t now, lol…

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Shug I watch every week. This week’s episode was a little dry but I like it for what it is.

  • The Comment

    I hope people really don’t believe black women are worried that she didn’t put some brown skin chick in her show. This sounds like one stupid critic who wanted to stir the pot and put out a media blitz to get a reaction. Happens all day everyday. Now what I want to know is why in the hell is CVS and Target selling knock tampons. That’s what pissing me off today.

  • The Comment

    sorry….knock-off tampons.

  • Xstopalopoketl

    I think some of you sisters have simply missed the point. Again. Sigh… The issue is not that the show doesn’t have a woman of color as a main character. Few shows do. As stated ad nauseum, most TV shows since the beginning of television are/have been like this. We have all grown up on them. A writer can only write what they know and have experienced in life. Most whites have lived just this sort of life. I.E. With blinders on when it comes to other races, ethnicities, etc. The real issue is that once again a white writer/director/producer/studio/network has gotten away with creating an “all-white” borough (Brooklyn), set in an “all-white” city (New York) which simply doesn’t exist. Has never existed. Will never exist. Simply because it could not in the 21 century (or in the 20th century either for that matter).

  • Xstopalopoketl

    The claim that the woman responsible for this show is simply writing about her life experiences is a lie. A falsehood. An untruth. One that anyone who has lived in or even visited NY could easily disprove. NO ONE has the life experience of a lily white New York City. It exists not. It lives and breathes only in the collective fantasies of those whites (including liberals) who simply will not face up to their “polite” racist leanings. This is not about any particular race/ethnicity/group of people, but about EVERYONE and EVERYTHING that does not cater to the small and limited worldview which many whites cling to. Shows like these are not accidental. They fulfill both a market demand and a psychological need. They sell a particular fantasy to a particular audience. They cater to white peoples continuing fantasy of a world where they do not have to bother about coming to grips with those who are different than themselves. Just like the Good ol’ Days. They harken back to a simpler time when it was possible to live in the world as a white person totally oblivious to the lives of other peoples. As we all know, this is impossible in 21st century America. Like it or not, we are here. Immigrants are here. Different ethnicities are here. These types of programs really are psychologically refreshing to many whites whether they will admit this to themselves or not. They are a form of escapism for the collective white consciousness. That’s why so many whites see nothing wrong with such portrayals.

  • Xstopalopoketl

    This view may be childish but understandable for whites, but not for us. I’m sick and tired of muddle-headed black women who complain about being ignored, disrespected, rejected, and disenfranchised by the mainstream culture. But who will then turn right around and mindlessly support the same “quaint” racist attitudes out of ignorance, escapism, and yes… COWARDICE. Black folks today seem to be lacking in the courage department. If you have a black child look at them after reading this and think about what lies in store for them when they grow up and must face the world as adults. This will teach you what the big deal is all about. The next time that you experience the sting of rejection that is par for the course if you are a black woman trying to gain acceptance in mainstream America, remember this. Remember that you yourself have contributed to it by being blind and foolish. You have endorsed the same attitude that causes upscale clubs, restaurants, businesses, etc. to find it convenient to simply pass you over in favor of the “right sort of people”. See the recent story of black women being OPENLY barred from an upscale Miami nightclub for not being “White” enough (the promoter’s statement). If you think it’s “no big deal”, it’s because you are repeating white folks sentiments instead of listening to your own common sense. Do you think such whites can deal effectively with diplomacy in the modern world? Look at South America, China, India, South Korea and the other rising world economies. Look at the racial makeup of todays Western society. The days of whites being able to dream their way through life in this manner are gone and they are gone forever. This worldview is as destructive to them as it is to the rest of us. Your avoidance strategy is not helping them, yourself, or America in general.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Rastaman, marry me NOW!

    My thoughts:

    I don’t care! I can’t relate! I swam across the Atlantic-oh shiiiiiid that’s real ignorant, errrm, let me rephrase this, if we do not see ourselves in a show, why bother?! Why not show love and support, to the web series that our dear Brit be posting for us day in day out! Why not support them to a point of them being on major networks?! Why why why?!!!!! Oh dear mother of Jesus why?!!!!!!

  • DreamJ

    BS!! Boardwalk Empire even has Black People in it and it was during a time where Blacks werent even fully equal and “suppose” to interact with white people but they are still on there.. now that this show is taking place in 2012 or whatever You mean to tell me you never had a black friend or interacted with one? smh that ish cray.. i had high hopes for this show but for that term… is that even a word?¿? I cant .. now I feel sometype of way.. she clearly thinks black girls dont come from good families and have exposure .. smh im done

  • DreamJ

    Can we get a show with Howard Girls? or GIrls from Harvard? How about that experience? Or BLACK girls who study abroad! they make it seem like the only thing black girls do is twerk and have babies! ugh i hate this soo much my blood is boiling right now

  • ania


    And I am Other Than White, if that matters.

    I don’t have any interest in the show, but heard Lena Dunham on Fresh Air.

  • Ina

    I smell cancelation. Contrived shows about privilege JAPS may appeal to JAPs but the rest of us don’t think it’s interesting or hot. Sorry. This JAP spring has got to come to an end. It’s so superficial.

  • Pingback: Girls, Chris Rock, And the Sweet, Sweet Unnoticed Irony « notyourgirlfriday

  • http://topmysterynovels.com CJ

    Boardwalk Empire is about a city and the rise of organized crime in that city during prohibition. It makes sense that there are black characters in the show; during the 1920′s there were black bootleggers that were quite successful. Yes, it’s a dramatic show but it does contain some historical references (Nucky Johnson, A.R. Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, etc.). And yes, there is a central character Nucky Thompson, around which most episodes revolve. But Boardwalk Empire isn’t a show called “Boys” that focuses on the real life Nucky Johnson and his 3 best friends. But if it was, I doubt the 3 other characters would include a minority.

    Girls is about one white girl and her 3 closest friends. If it was about one white girl and 15 other people that she hangs out with, I would agree with you; there should be some diversity there. If the primary focus of Girls was to look at life in present day New York City, again, I would agree with you. But it’s not.

    I could care less about the skin color of the women in the show. The topics covered each week transcend race in my opinion. How many women over 21, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or economic status, can relate to one of the following:

    -Feeling insecure about her weight?
    -Being in a relationship with the wrong guy?
    -Getting intimate with a guy after one or two dates?
    -Being afraid or uncertain about her future, her employment choices, her ability to make it on her own in the world?

    A lot.

    And that’s why the show works.

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