When season 2 of HBO’s beyond-hit show “Girls” premiered, I went into it excited. After avoiding the show for months because of it’s oft-discussed lack of diversity, (more on that later) I broke down and watched the entire first season in a fortnight, and was actually able almost able to look past it.
Almost. Which is why I was so pleased to discover that Donald Glover (If you haven’t started watching “Community,” get it together) was going to be playing one of Hannah’s (series creator/writer/director/producer Lena Dunham’s character) love interests. Finally, a character of color! In a role with multiple lines!
Up until that point, there had only been three, non-white minor characters on the show, and they’d all been disturbingly stereotypical. There was the sex-crazed and poor black man, in the form of a homeless street harasser who told Hannah she made him want to say, “I loooovvveee New Yoorrrrkkk.” Gross. Then there was the feisty Latina with the poorly penciled on eyebrows at Hannah’s first real job. Not to mention the tech-savvy Asian intern who beat Hannah out for full-time position at a publishing house.
But then Sandy, Donald Glover’s black Republican who was totes in like with Hannah, came and went. After a really dope scene where they discussed hipster racism and politics and blackness, Sandy and Hannah were no more. She couldn’t take the fact that he was a Republican, and he felt she was more into the experience of dating a black guy than anything else.
And even though I was kind of upset with the show for the Sandy Bait and Switch, I felt this one conversation was well done. And then we went right back to our regularly scheduled program.
You guys, I really want to just like this show. Not because it’s imperfect, because believe me there are some flaws, but because I actually can identify with much of what happens on the show – from trying to convince your parents that you have it together when you don’t to breaking up with a guy because he’s too negative.
But I have had the hardest time getting over the lily whiteness of it all. I totally respect the fact that Dunham rejected the idea of tossing a token character in the script to appease critics. But here’s the thing: “we” (the socially/racially conscious television audience, at large) are tired of suspending our disbelief in order to stomach shows, set in major cities, that feature little-to-no minority characters.
After “Sex and the City” and “Seinfeld” and “Friends,” asking us to watch one more New York City-based show with nary even a brown, black, yellow or tan extra, is just too much. Especially a show created by a Millenial, a member of the most racially diverse generation America has ever seen.
Maybe we expect too much of Dunham for this reason, and hopefully “Girls” won’t be the only show to get grief for being a total whiteout.
Quite frankly, I’m tired of writing about it and thinking about it. Because I just want this to not be an issue anymore. I want shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Community” – shows that mirror the way the real world looks – to be the norm.
And I want to like “Girls,” even when Hannah is driving me insane with her self-involved, stupid decisions and whiny voice. Even when Jessa is gone for the whole second half of the season. Even when Marnie is a hot mess and Shoshanna is trapped in a loveless relationship. I still want to like “Girls.”
And so, my season 3 wish list:
– No more OCD-Hannah, because despite the fact that “True Life: I Have OCD” was one of the realest things ever, on Hannah it’s just annoying.
– More Jessa! I get that Jemima Kirke, who plays my favorite ratchet Brit, just had a baby, but Jessa is glamorous and awful and gets the best lines.
– Yes for Shoshanna’s sexual revolution! I love seeing her confident and happy, and even though it hurt to watch her Ray break-up, I’m all for her becoming a fully realized woman.
– Last, but not least, let’s try another swing at that diversity thing. Not just because it’s the politically correct thing to do. Do it in the name of verisimilitude!
— Lauren McEwen (@Angrywritergirl)
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