girls

“Girls” received considerable flack for the first season’s treatment of race. Although the HBO series takes place in Brooklyn, New York, one of the most diverse boroughs in the most ethnically diverse city in the country, the characters are all lily-white.

Lena Dunham, the show’s star, executive producer, writer and creator, told the crowd at Fortune Magazine’s annual Most Powerful Women event that she felt “heartbreak at the idea that the show would make anyone feel isolated” despite the show’s popular and critical success.

She pledged to incorporate more characters “of color” in the second season so people “of color [can] see themselves reflected on-screen” and she’s making good on her word by casting Donald Glover (who raps under the moniker Childish Gambino).

Glover will play Dunham’s protagonist’s (Hannah’s) handsome Republican boyfriend Sandy. A review on The Hollywood Reporter reveals Dunham and Glover’s characters will directly tackle issues of race:

When Sandy calls out Hannah’s knowledge of race and its ramifications, she goes on a self-righteous, defensive rant, and Sandy says, “You just said a Missy Elliot lyric.” There are attacks on fixie bikes, rich white girls dating black men, gay iPad-using DJs, what constitutes a “pretty person’s job,” and the smug cynicism of youthful people who haven’t earned the right to it.

Though “Sandy”‘s political affiliation was revealed, perhaps in an effort to characterize him, it’s unclear if the show will address politics (it’s been apolitical thus far). Critics can at least say Dunham heard their cries about diversity by writing an interracial relationship into the plot.

180 Comments

  1. Ashur

    Though I do check out most HBO shows, I’ve never seen Girls. It came on after I went to college and my school doesn’t have HBO (meaning I’m helping to make Game of Thrones the most pirated show in the US!).

    Lena Dunham’s response to criticisms of her show’s lack of diversity have shown that she has no understanding or respect of black people. Her good friend, Leslie Arfin, who writes for the show, has written about her love of the N word and, in response to the controversy, tweeted such vapid and ignorant statements as “What really bothered me about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.” The last thing I would trust these two with is a black character.

    We should undoubtedly continue to complain about the lack of representation of black and POC characters on television, but we should also be realistic about where we’re going to get good representation. A better complaint might well have been lodged at Game of Thrones — as much as I love it — for turning a prominent black female character from the books into a redheaded white woman, and making a canon Middle Eastern kingdom European like all the others.

    We should also support shows that do represent us fully, and which don’t relegate us to black channels and black shows. Reach out for shows from afar that do, try to get them on TV in America. A ton of British youth shows represent POC well. A retelling of the King Arthur matter featured a black Guinevere (this show got broadcast on Syfy thanks to American interest). Some Girls, a high school level Girls, stars a black girl whose friends include two white girls and an Indian girl. The biggest romantic interest and male character on the show is a black boy.

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