Girls: One of a Kind?
The first episode of Lena Dunham’s Girls has not even aired yet, but it already has a few detractors. And the loudest of dissenting critics seems to be saying that the show is too homogenous, or too rich and white, with a few quips about it being too rarefied, and, television for the one percent. Maybe, but is that a bad thing?
Lena is the oldest of two children by artist couple Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham, and so far has proven to be the exception to the rule of talent skipping a generation. William Faulkner may have said it best, and most cruelly, when his daughter Jill voiced concerns about his alcoholic binges, “No one remembers Shakepseare’s child.” Touché. With the exception of the art world, eccentric bohemians, droll Brits, and pretentious Bard undergrads whose grandmothers mail them last month’s issue of Art Forum, (even though they probably already have it), Mrs. Simmons and Mr. Dunham are not household names, though their daughter is one cable channel season away from changing that for herself.
Dunham is also part of that one percent of your peers who graduate from a precious liberal arts school, armed with the latest version of irony and a post, post-modern sense of culture—is it two “posts” or three? I can’t keep up anymore—along with the conviction of knowing how the world really works. But unlike most of her peers, and ours, Dunham channels that vision into work that invites an audience in, instead of trying to alienate or shock them for shock’s sake. We saw it with Dash Snow and Ryan McGinley at the beginning of the century, and everyone (present company included) may have been a tad jealous. TINY FURNITURE is easily one of the most self-assured voices in independent cinema. What peer doesn’t harbor hate when Vanity Fair or Paper magazine dubs a contemporary the voice of a generation?
Lastly, Lena is also part of that rarefied set of well-connected urban progeny. Enough chatter has been made of the surnames walking around the set and starring in, if not helping produce, Girls. But you know what, I trust the people I grew up with to understand my vision more than I do a stranger brought to me by a casting agent or Music A&R trying to create the next pop sensation. Anyone see that film about a young John and Paul? Heard it was cute. There’s also something to be said about following a set of entitled, privileged, young adults figuring out life in a world gone hip. A moneyed upbringing does allow for a lot of introspection and self-exploration, should one desire. And that’s what we all want.
So kudos Dunham for embracing her station in life and producing some exciting meta-reality. Who says artists can’t come from nice backgrounds? Her twitter bio jokingly reads (we hope), “my life is my art and therapy is my palette.” My favorite tweet from the other day was: Seen any @girlsHBO posters w/ really rude graffiti or ugly doodles? Maybe I’m a masochist but if you send me a picture I’ll touch your face!
Don’t miss TINY FURNITURE, airing on Sundance Channel: