White boy talks ‘Girls’

When Lena Dunham first unveiled her new comedy “Girls” in the spring of 2012, she publicly marketed it as HBO’s own comment on “Sex and the City.


It wasn’t that much of a stretch. Four white women live in New York and have romantic misadventures. Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna all seem to have been written as subversions of “Sex and the City” characters — Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, respectively. Even the central romantic interests in “Girls” map subversively onto the men of “Sex and the City.” Adam Sackler is Mr. Big in essence, and Charlie Dattalo is basically Steve Brady.

The season 6 premiere next Sunday will be pretty sentimental for me. I’ve been watching “Girls” almost religiously since it began five seasons ago. People often get mad at me for defending Lena Dunham’s work. “Girls” has, for good reason, been under fire since its first season. Dunham’s show has almost no representation of people of color. It’s classist, and its characters are whiny and privileged. I don’t even like her as a figure or as a person, and I can pretty safely confirm that I would agree with any critique volleyed at her.

Still, when it comes to “Girls,” and to her larger body of work, I must admit it’s been rather useful. What’s necessary to understand is how shamefully relatable these surreptitiously gross white characters can be to a white person like me. I see shades of my own unchecked, unarticulated privilege laid bare before me within every “Girls” character…

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