Lena Dunham Wants To “Diversify” Girls

by Yesha Callahan

When the first season of Girls premiered on HBO, Lena Dunham caught a lot of slack because of the lack of “color” in the cast. Although the series centered around young women living in Brooklyn, NY, diversity did not exist. In their version of Brooklyn, which happens to be a lot of people’s version of Brooklyn, it was lily-white. Even though it was met with criticism and opposition, the show went on to become yet another HBO hit, and even received four Emmy nominations. Although winless at the Emmy’s, Lena Dunham’s success seems to be going full speed ahead.

Recently, Dunham spoke at Fortune magazine’s annual Most Powerful Women Summit, described how she felt “heartbreak at the idea that the show would make anyone feel isolated.” Dunham also said the second season of Girls will feature more characters and some of them will be “of color”. She said she did this in response to viewers, “who are women of color who want to see themselves reflected on-screen.” “All I want to do is make women feel excited and included by the show,” she said.

In my own post about Girls, ironically the one thing that didn’t bother me was the lack of diversity. I was more annoyed at the hipster sympathy and forced provocativeness I sensed from the writing and characters. As a fan of Dunham’s film, Tiny Furniture, it didn’t matter to me that there weren’t any people of color in the show. As a woman with a diverse circle of friends, I realize that not everyone’s clique is full of diversity, and maybe this was just Dunham’s reality. Just as I couldn’t relate to Carrie Bradshaw in Sex In The City, and the oversexed and expensive shoe wearing women. I couldn’t relate to the characters in Girls, not because they were white, but because I’m not a hipster, that’s 20-something and living off my parent’s money.

I’m pretty sure Dunham realized there was a lack of diversity from the get-go, but maybe she didn’t realize that she’d receive backlash from it? In an effort to allow for more diversity, will she add a token Asian or Black friend? Maybe a Black boss? Who knows, but I guess the complainers now got what they wanted.

  • Nikki

    Honestly, I like Girls as it is. It’s like a look into the minds of self-absorbed privileged, unmotivated white women who are clueless about the world outside of their own bubble. Even Jessa, who has traveled widely, falls into this trap, and I find it fascinating. Sort of like the Discovery Channel. The problem is that I don’t think that this was Dunham’s intention, nor do I feel that the majority of her target demoraphic relates to my perspective. I go onto message boards and there are people who say that they can totally relate to this lifestyle and mode of thought. What!! And that the show isn’t about girls, but about girls like Dunham. How can she claim to be the voice of a generation?

    With that said, ol girl needs not wear short hair. If anyone should keep their hair as a crutch, it should be Lena Dunham. Sorry boo!

  • Mina

    I never watched the show in the first place so it wouldn’t bother me now. I still wouldn’t watch if she diversified it

  • gmarie

    She never lost me. I thought the show was entertaining already. If she genuinely would like to diversify the show’s cast then great but I hope this isn’t in an effort to pander to any particular group. Because then I actually WOULD be offended.

  • Avril

    Totally agree! My issue isn’t the lack of racial representation either. My issue is pretty much the same as yours; I don’t get these shows where we celebrate sexual freedom and women “having fun” as a sole plot of a show. ‘You bought Jimmy Choos and hooked up with the salesman’…yay!? ‘I’m twenty-something living off of my parents and dating/hooking up is sooo hard’…ok!? We still aren’t paid the same rate as a man, we’re fighting to keep birth control in some states, we don’t want to be sexually harrassed, and we want to be treated equally…then we put out this ish and we’re shocked when men think we’re just walking, talking sex dolls. ::SMH:: :sigh: And don’t get me wrong on the whole sexual freedom thing, keep safe and do what you gotta do, but almost a whole show about this? C’mon.

    HBO original programming has become nothing but soft core porn with plots sometimes. This show being successful isn’t surprising to me anymore. I think I’m always surprised by our plummeting tastes.

  • Comment

    I still don’t get why we care so much. I imagine the majority of complainers were black women who still desperately want to be accepted into that white world. I do not care what’s going on in their world. It’s a white show just like the hundreds of others that don’t have black women in the cast. I don’t watch them bc I find shows without color boring. However Dunham should feel comfortable making a show about her white friends and experiences just as I would want to feel comfy creating a show with all blacks. What I didn’t like was that Leslie Arfin chick’s comment about Precious.

  • Smilez_920

    I hope she doesn’t put the token black girl character in there to shut ppls mouths .

    I haven’t watched the show. But maybe how this women grew up or what she’s been around she doesn’t have a diverse group of friends. I didn’t hear white ppl yelling about ” why isn’t their a white main character in Girlfriends”. When people think of NYC they see it as a melting pot but really it’s a buffet most of the time. Yes you have different foods on the buffet table, but they hardly ever touch each other.

  • African Mami

    Please! She is doing it out of duress of backlash, not genuineness. NEXT!

    Just leave it as is, lily white. It really is okay.

  • The Comment

    I love this show as it is. If she is going to diversify……hire more black camerwomen, you know….behind the scenes stuff.

  • http://www.lifestylebyky.com Kydee

    Just to bring up Sex In the City, I never had an issue with it being an all white cast, I never had an issue that they liberated the doors for communication about sex. I think what bothered me the most was when Sex in the City tried to diversify its cast by bringing a Black Limo Driver who Carrie spent her whole night with after her book signing party, or a weird old black man who carried coconuts in his brief case when Carrie had Jury Duty or even when they brought on Jennifer Hudson as Carrie Assistant in the movie, their attempt at diversity was not genuine, it was just down right awkward. Like someone else said, we get it, leave the show “Girls” as is.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Agreed! And to be honest, I don’t think people was mad because they didn’t have any “of color” characters but they were trying to push it as a voice of a generation um…whose generation? By all means tell your story and if it doesn’t include someone “of color” that is okay but don’t try and paint your experience as the default experience of a generation. And the way she handle the criticism was off putting.

  • Yb

    Why do people automatically equate “diversity” and of “color” to being black. Last time I checked people of all colors critiqued Lena Durham’s show. So why are people saying “blah blah stfu black women”, “stop vying to be the token negro blah blah”?

  • Chika

    I didn’t hear white ppl yelling about ” why isn’t their a white main character in Girlfriends”

    That’s because the majority of television programming already had people who liked them. I don’t agree with the outrage about lack of diversity on Girls but I also don’t think the situation you presented is equal to the one at hand.

  • Anthony

    I enjoyed the show and I thought it was real in the sense that most white people don’t have close black friends. Nothing is worse than a black token on an otherwise good show.

  • Rue

    Except that Girls is not a good show…

  • Rue

    Agreed x2: Anytime the “voice of a generation” crap comes up I cringe. Whose generation? Dunham is the voice of annoying hipsters who need to STFU about being ironic and and just plain STFU. My beef with girls is that the women are annoying, whiny, and just plain boring. Especially the whining. God, it annoyed me like no other recent show has done. Every five seconds I just wanna ask “you all do realize that a few blocks from where you live are people who eat one meal a day right?”. If only the show 2 Broke Girls were written better, and stopped portraying stereotypes, it could be the perfect antidote to this crap.

  • Nic

    Yeah, but she doesn’t have nice hair, so it doesn’t really matter either way. Her hair is stringy, so unless you subscribe to the idea that stringy long hair is somehow attractive(which I guess unfortunately some black people do), this haircut isn’t really the problem b/c her overall look is hopelessly plain, and even makeup and nice clothes don’t help.
    White girls with thin hair actually should keep it cut short.

  • Nic

    Don’t forget Samantha’s Jungle Fever episode…or homely Miranda being paired up with Blair Underwood.
    I assume Lena Dunham will diversify by adding black penis to the show, b/c that’s typically how they like to “diversify.”

  • Anthony

    Nic, adding a black guy would be more realistic than one of the characters suddenly getting a black best friend. At least that is what I tend to see.

  • http://gravatar.com/hoodparvenu Nikki

    She makes money. She can get a weave lol

  • Nic

    I don’t disagree with you there…a lot of chicks will date black men but not mix with black women.

  • Nic

    Yeah, she could, but look at that picture. That girl is pasty and plain. No amount of hair weave and makeup can hide that.

  • Nic

    Oh come on now Yb, you know everything is black women’s fault…the media isn’t happy unless they are somehow bagging on black women in some way.

  • Kacey

    “HBO original programming has become nothing but soft core porn with plots sometimes.”

    Agreed. This even somewhat applies to one of my favorite shows: ‘Game of Thrones’. The sex scenes on that show are unnecessary and do seem like soft porn. I’m no prude – I love sex and know its a normal part of life – but on a show with an awesome plot, script and cast, the gratuitous sex isn’t needed. That’s usually what’s done for shows with no substance (like ‘Girls’, in my opinion)

  • Nikki

    I disagree with you. I don’t think that she’s a bad looking woman. On the show I think that she’s ridiculously meh, which I guess is supposed to be part of the show’s appeal? but on other occasions she’s looked aight, even pretty. So I guess it’s just going to have to be a matter of opinion.

  • http://gravatar.com/nesheaholic Nesheaholic

    I liked the show as it was. As long as she can write for Black characters with truth I have no problem.

  • Charle

    That’s why Donald Glover’s going to be on the show next season. Should be interesting!

  • gmarie

    I think she actually looked prettiest on an episode where she wore her hair in a high bun and had bright red lips. otherwise..not much help for her poor thing. :( But it’s great that she can find success in this industry without looks.

  • Nic

    Hmm, I wonder what he’ll be doing? *smirk*

  • http://theogk.wordpress.com Kelly Hawkins

    I’ve already read too many ignorant comments made by Dunham surrounding the race issue with her show and now feel like she’s an idiot who is going to write a stupid character that is going to piss us off even more. I’ve only watched one episode of the show anyway so adding “diversity” won’t make ME watch it. Also, I feel like it was a little egotistical of us to bully her into adding Black characters into the show. Maybe it’s because I’m not from Brooklyn and never been there so I wasn’t feeling excluded as a resident? What I’m saying is let her have her White show. I’d rather watch a show created by and starring Black women than be half-heartedly included into a White show.

  • Mitt_Romen_Noodles

    There’s no black people on this show, I am outraged!

    What? She’s casted a black person on this show, I am outraged!

    Make up yall mind. Either you want us present, or you don’t.

    I think the original casting was great. There’s no need to have “us” present.

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