Woman of the Week: Lena Dunham

HBO is famous for having shows that stir up controversy and get people talking, and the show Girls is no exception to this rule. Girls has become one of my favorite shows in recent months, which is saying a lot given that most HBO shows are too vulgar or violent for me. Behind this amazing show, which has already won an Emmy for “Best Casting for a Comedy Series” and a Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical TV Series, is Lena Dunham. As the creator, writer, director, and lead actress of Girls, she takes on the rest of the world by storm and provides a different, realistic perspective on the complications in life that nobody really knows how to react to. She has managed to create a storyline consisting of 4 girls and 3 guys living in New York in their 20’s, and yet people of any age can connect to it.

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Girls reveals the humor, sadness, and frustration that happens to many people navigating their way through their early 20’s. One of the main reasons it has risen to such popularity recently is because the people on it are relatable and realistic. Each character has both extremely annoying and likable characteristics, and they often make the same mistakes over and over again as the viewer painfully watches. A scene that sticks out in my mind is when Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Marnie (Allison Williams) talk on the phone one night: both are feeling miserable and lonely, yet they lie, saying they’re extremely happy rather than confiding in each other and admitting that they’re struggling. This is something I’ve personally done and seen many times, and watching it happen to somebody else was like looking at myself in the mirror.

Characters from left to right: Jessa, Marnie, Hannah, and Shoshana

Characters from left to right: Jessa, Marnie, Hannah, and Shoshana

What I love most about the show is Lena’s willingness to take on any issue, and her bravery in the face of vulnerability. As the main influence behind the show, Lena could easily paint her character in a more flattering light – Hannah (her character) could make some of the silly, hilarious mistakes that she does on the show, then salvage herself instead of continuing down some wrong paths. In contrast, Lena takes her character even deeper into her struggles and shows a vulnerability to viewers that is uncomfortable, heartbreaking, hilarious, and insightful all at the same time. The show goes beyond something to make people laugh every Sunday and instead has covered controversial topics in-depth more than any other 30 minute comedy show I’ve seen.

Hannah and Adam learning to navigate through an awkward, unconventional relationship.

Hannah and Adam learning to navigate through an awkward, unconventional relationship.

Season 1 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_L52eExAHU

Lena Dunham is an inspiration not just for her amazing script writing, acting, and directing, but because of the example of positive body image she is sending to girls. Lena does not have the typical Hollywood body, but she is not afraid to show it off on the show. Her character Hannah is by far the one who’s most frequently nude, and she doesn’t hesitate to wear short shorts, tight shirts, or anything else for that matter. There has been a lot of criticism from people watching the show, saying that the people who “look bad” are naked too much, and that the people who “look good” aren’t naked enough, if at all. One comment in particular has gained a lot of attention. While talking about the show, Howard Stern said on his radio show

“I learned that this little fat chick writes the show and directs the show…Good for her. It’s hard for little fat chicks to get anything going.”

Lena was nominated for Glamour Woman of the Year in 2012: http://www.glamour.com/inspired/women-of-the-year/2012/lena-dunham

In an interview with David Letterman a few weeks later, Dunham responded to the comment, saying, “It was the best thing I’ve ever heard about myself. I want my gravestone to say ‘she was a little fat chick, and she got it going’ ”.  Her ability to put humor in the situation, rather than to let Stern’s words get to her, makes Dunham an even greater role model to girls.  

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