Lena Dunham to Critics: Drop Dead?

by Robert VerBruggen

I haven’t paid much attention to Girls since writing about the ridiculous race debate it inspired (short version: the Brooklyn hipsters on Girls are white because Brooklyn hipsters are white), but I’ve enjoyed the media coverage of the show’s second season. It seems that the show’s creator, Lena Dunham, half capitulated to critics — and half told them to go to hell.

The capitulation, or at least the seeming capitulation (some say it would have happened anyway), was the addition of a black character played by Donald Glover. But it’s amazing how Dunham handled it: First of all, she made him a black Republican, which I like to think was a way of saying, “You want to see diversity even when it doesn’t reflect statistical reality? Here you go!” Then, she debuted the character with the line “You wanted this and now you’re f***ing getting it.”

And today, David Weigel writes at Slate (beware: spoilers):


Consider [the breakup between Dunham's character and Glover's character]. She asks if he’s read the personal essay she gave him. He demurs, then confesses that he read the essay and didn’t like it. Nothing really happened in it, he says — it was like reading “all the nonsense that goes through your brain when you’re just trying to kill time . . . It wasn’t for me.” Hannah pretends she’s perfectly happy to hear these things, then steers the conversation to an obviously delicate topic: their divergent political views and the incredible rates of incarceration among black men. Sandy sarcastically thanks her for enlightening him about the plight of minorities. Seconds later, their relationship is history.

Hannah Horvath, character, and Lena Dunham, writer, have grown farther apart as the series has progressed. But the former is still the latter’s alter ego, and Hannah’s personal essays will always have a meta-fictional connection to Girls itself. When Sandy says that Hannah should not try to inform him about the difficulties faced by black men — just after the two discuss whether her essays are “for” him — Girls seems to be saying that this show, like Hannah herself, is a foolish place to turn to for enlightenment on that subject.

Glover was great in the role. And I suspect we have seen the last of his character.

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