I Want My Thirty Minutes Back, Lena Dunham

Last night on Twitter I joked about who was going to write the first “think-piece” on the HBO pseudo-comedy, Girls. The first person I thought was going to do so was MSNBC’s Toure’, which I was completely wrong about. In searching for tweets and positive reviews of Girls I thought he had written, I instead found a very interesting story of a fight he had on Twitter back in 2012 with one of the show’s executive producers, Judd Apatow. I’ll explain why later in this piece.

The second person I thought was going to write a “think-piece” on Girls was Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has written pieces first casting faint praise on the show in 2012 and glowingly for the Chicago Tribune a year later. Having never watched a single episode of Girls, I always wondered if all the criticism was overblown, and that there might be something to the show after all, so I decided to break from the Golden Globes and watch Girls’ season premiere.

What ensued was the biggest waste of a half-hour I have ever subjected myself to, at any moment in my 31-and-a-half years on this plane of existence. The show’s vacuity and gross indulgence in the alleged wonder that is Lena Dunham is only eclipsed by the tiresome stages of hipster racist selfishness that emanates from its main characters. This show is over-the-top caricature in almost the exact vein of a Tyler Perry film, even down to the dark tones that pervade the scenes.

I tried to give this show the benefit of the doubt, understanding that a large part of what makes comedy what it is (and what renders most hyperventilating about the offense of what is said in comedy moot) is generalization, and its usage to get a laugh out of the audience. However, the huge secret beyond Girls is that it doesn’t even remotely try to be funny; the show is solely about the privileged bohemian angst of its creator, and if you dare criticize her or anyone else associated with her show, well, something’s wrong with you.

Consider what happened when Toure’ criticized Judd Apatow in the aforementioned Twitter fight. Apatow in receiving negative feedback on how bad This is 40 was went completely ballistic, attacking Toure’ ad hominem about how he was “hard to like” because he never pretended that Santa existed to his kids.

Or, if you like, consider this exchange when Tim Molloy dared ask about Dunham’s (and only Dunham’s) copious amounts of nudity on the show:

Why is Lena Dunham’s character on “Girls” naked so much?

That question made Dunham and her fellow “Girls” executive producers, Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner, mad at me Thursday during a Television Critics Association panel. Apatow later said my question was sexist, offensive and misogynistic. He asked me to transcribe what I asked and re-read what I asked Dunham, so here it is:

“I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.”

Dunham’s response was classic narcissism: “Yeah. It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem.” However, Apatow continued to go in on Molloy, denouncing him as offensive and misogynistic, even daring him at one point to show his girlfriend the above question, daring him to “tell him how it goes” afterward. Molloy responded this way:

Actually, my girlfriend has wondered about this, too. Here’s why. “Girls” has more nudity by its lead character than any show, well, ever. But my girlfriend and I don’t understand the reason for it. We’re cool with nudity, and if Dunham wants to be naked, great. I’m not offended by it. I don’t like it or not like it. I just don’t get the artistic reason for it, and want to understand it, because I’m a TV critic.

Girls is atrocious. This show will be here for several weeks, and is guaranteed to be back next season, as HBO has renewed the show. As I write mostly about politics, perhaps the network sees Girls the way Politico views Playbook: a niche brand that serves a select few, but is great at “driving a conversation”, despite its chronic self-obsession.

Whatever. I still want my half-hour back…

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