Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 00:04
This week held a series of brief talking points: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West went public with their much-suspected romance; rumors surfaced that Jessica Simpson—it really seems like she’s been pregnant forever, doesn’t it?—had given birth to a baby girl (on Sunday, TMZ reported that those rumors were false and Jess is still ticking towards her due date); and on Saturday, the ever-classy Carey Mulligan married childhood pen pal and Mumford & Sons lead singer Marcus Mumford.
The big talking point, however, was the new HBO series Girls, leading up to its premiere on Sunday night. Created and written by 25-year-old Lena Dunham, the show has been touted as the “anti-Sex and the City:” it follows four 20-something friends in New York City, chronicling their “slackerish adventures, awkward hook-ups and studied self-deprecation,” writes the Boston Globe. But the issue which critics—and prospective viewers—have with the show is not the girls’ colorful adventures, but rather the lack of any other color—namely, the lack of any characters with a skin color other than white.
Set in a city where 64 percent of the population is made up of black, Hispanic and Asian people, Girls—like Sex and the City in 1998 and Friends in 1994—presents a remarkably whitewashed world for its protagonists. As the Globe review explains, “America is transforming into a majority-minority nation faster than experts could have predicted, yet the most racially and ethnically diverse metropolis in America is delivered to us again and again on the small screen as a virtual sea of white.” Indeed, much of the show takes place in Brooklyn, a borough where only one-third of the population is white, yet the girls seem to exist in an “all-white bubble.”
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Dunham presented herself as confident and powerful, a woman in full control of the show in which she also stars. But when questioned about the lack of characters of color, Dunham was less direct. While she admitted that she wanted to have characters in the show to point out the lead characters’ white privilege, she also downplayed the power she had recently boasted of: “When I get a tweet from a girl who’s like, ‘I wish there were more women of color.’ You know what? I do, too, and if we have the opportunity to do a second season, I’ll address that.” Dunham is the lead writer on the show and its creator, so the question has to stand: why aren’t there already characters of color? When you write a show set in one of the most diverse cities in the country, the opportunity to include characters of color is staring Dunham in the face. So why did she choose not to?