New Excerpts Of Lena Dunham's Memoir Surface: Would You Buy It?
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New Excerpts Of Lena Dunham's Memoir Surface: Would You Buy It?

By Agent Bedhead | Trade News | August 27, 2014 | Comments ()


Lena Dunham tends to grab focus for all the wrong reasons. She’s a relatively enlightened feminist voice but purposely draws our attention away from her accomplishments by trolling the red carpet. You may disagree that Lena purposely made a statement against beauty with her recent Emmys ensemble. That’s fine. I’m not really interested in talking about dresses at this moment.

Here’s my topic of conversation concerning Lena. She has penned a memoir (for which she received $3.7 million). That price is staggering, especially since the publishing industry rarely hands out such dollar amounts upfront. Maybe that wasn’t the true payment amount. That headline could have been the work of PR geniuses. Lena’s book is called Not That Kind Of Girl (subtitle: A young woman tells you wnat she’s “learned).

Since I (like many people) have never found Lena relatable, I assumed that this memoir would be a cutesy, hipstery book of tips in manner of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s The Secret Of Life. That book was a mess and simply a way for Wurtzel to fulfill her Random House contract while mainlining random substances. Wurtzel, a self-avowed feminist, spent hundreds of pages giving hair tips and talking about how to attract men. I didn’t expect much more from Lena. If these new excerpts are any indication, then Lena’s book is much more promising. Via People, one of the sections talks about Lena’s crippling germaphobia. I am aware of Girls dramatic treatment of OCD (with its eardrum puncturing episode). These memoir excerpts seem more real:

“I am eight, and I am afraid of everything. The list of things that keep me up at night includes but is not limited to: appendicitis, typhoid, leprosy, unclean meat, foods I haven’t seen emerge from their packaging, foods my mother hasn’t tasted first so that if we die we die together, homeless people, headaches, rape, kidnapping, milk, the subway, sleep,” she describes.

This paralyzing worry continues to manifest itself in new ways. Only a few years into elementary school, and Dunham is spending days in the school nurse’s office certain that she is stricken with scarlet fever, polio or leukemia.

“The germophobia morphs into hypochondria morphs into sexual anxiety morphs into the pain and angst that accompany entry into middle school,” Dunham writes.

She then goes on to describe in great emotional detail the search to find the right therapist to help her comfortably confront her concerns, and how she found that professional mother figure in a woman named Lisa. The progress with Lisa reveals to Dunham her underlying obsessive-compulsive disorder, an area she has also explored through her character Hannah in Girls.

“Sitting with my mother in the beauty salon one afternoon, I come across an article about obsessive-compulsive disorder. A woman describes her life, so burdened with obsessions that she has to lick art in museums and crawl on the sidewalk. Her symptoms aren’t much worse than mine: the magazine’s description of her most horrible day parallels my average one. I tear the article out and bring it to Lisa, whose face crumples sympathetically, as though the moment she’d been dreading had finally arrived. It makes me want to throw my needlepoint supplies in her face.”

Finally, I identify a little bit with Lena Dunham. The details of her discovery are almost uncanny. Lena realized that she wasn’t alone in suffering from obsessions and compulsions. Lena goes on to talk about how she met with a therapist monthly, weekly, and momentarily. She consulted with said therapist via the phone when she didn’t feel like walking to the therapist’s office. Her therapist’s voice immediately put her at ease. This was a far cry from many young OCD sufferers’ upbringings. Lena was lucky. Back in the 1980s, most of us were simply told that we were “weird.”

I’m not about to claim that Lena is embellishing her claims of extreme germaphobia as a variant of OCD. Not at all. She’s fortunate to have found help at an early age for her affliction. I do wonder how she’s managed to move past her OCD rituals and work on television sets. Not to mention how she manages to deal with hair and makeup while trying not to think about all the germs on brushes, etc. Whatever the case, I’m semi-interested in reading Lena’s memoir. Even though she still thinks people who write for money are weird. Ahem.

Bedhead lives in Tulsa. She can be found at

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Maddy

    I tried to watch the first season of Girls but I couldn't quite do it. She's one of those people that I'm glad exists but personally she isn't really my cup of tea.

  • laylaness

    I am uninterested in Lena Dunham, her show, and her memoir.

    One reason is, I'm tired of the memoir in general. There are notable exceptions to that, of course, but the genre now seems like anyone can get a published memoir, and most are stale and not particularly engaging.

    Plus, I live with crazy everyday. I don't need new crazy introduced to my long list.

  • "One reason is, I'm tired of the memoir in general."

    Oof -- yes. I don't know if you should be in charge of synthesizing your own life? Someone else, maybe, with some critical distance should be the person to say, "Oh, hey: these aspects of your life are curious and we might could make something of it." And I can almost 100% guarantee that the things in your life YOU think are worth remembering are not the things that are actually worth remembering.

  • laylaness

    "And I can almost 100% guarantee that the things in your life YOU think are worth remembering are not the things that are actually worth remembering."

    Not only that, but, look, I like to learn something when I read. The last memoir I read that I loved was Tina Fey's. Aside from getting her perspective on her time on SNL, she had constructive advice for women in comedy, both of which I happen to be. Same with Mindy Kaling's book; I wasn't particularly interested in her life and career, but I did get a new viewpoint on women in comedy.

    *ETA: Which is not to say that I don't think Lena Dunham has her own perspective on women in the industry, but being not interested in her show, and that she has a far less distinguished and illustrious career than Tina Fey, I really doubt I would get anything from it but the sneaking hypochondrical (it's a word now) feeling that I have OCD too.

  • Abby Cadabby

    Boo! I don't understand the catty approach to discussing Lena Dunham. Suggesting her outfit is "trolling" or "a statement against beauty" is just plain rude.

    Look, it's FINE if you don't like Lena, don't like her show/movies, dont want to read her book...I'm sure there are LOTS of books you don't want to read, I just don't understand all the need to hate on her for being given the opportunity to do it. In every interview I have ever seen of hers she is thoughtful and inteligent regarding both her own projects and most other topics.

    She's not just some hack that had a magic wish granted and if you don't want her to have so much attention, stop writing about her maybe? I DO find her relatable and I for one am excited for the book.

  • You raise some fair points. But:

    "Suggesting her outfit is "trolling" or "a statement against beauty" is just plain rude."

    If you're Dunham, you don't wear something like that to an awards show if you don't want attention. You know it looks ridiculous, you know how people feel about you as it is, so you know it'll stir up conversation. Which is exactly what she wanted. So I think the troll description is in bounds here.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Is trolling merely being provocative? Isn't there an intent to wound or injure behind trolling?

  • Aaron Schulz

    I think trolling is just trying to get a reaction. A lot of trolls want to hurt, but i dont think all trolls do, i think they just want to feel they have created something.

  • Classic

    Not even a little bit.

  • denesteak

    I read the excerpt on the New Yorker -- she's a good writer, and I'm officially jealous. I'm now going through her other writing on the site. She's funny, succinct and brings forth emotions without being wordily manipulative.

    Fuck, I'm officially jealous. I sincerely wish I could write like that. Maybe not exactly like that, nor about those topics, but... yea.

  • emmalita

    I might be interested in reading it. She is a good writer. I've never really understood the hate, but there are plenty of people I hate irrationally.

  • NateMan

    It's not hate for me. I don't have enough experience with her to hate her. I'm sure we even share many of the same ideals. It's just complete disinterest.

  • emmalita

    Most people don't, but she is on the receiving end of some major hate. Around here it's more mockery with the occasional hiss, but other places it is virulent. Sometimes it pops up here.

  • NateMan

    I sure won't argue with you there.

  • Jonewash

    I cannot forsee any circumstance whatsoever in which I would read this book.

  • NateMan

    I find it difficult to believe I'd find much use in the memoir of an upper-class woman 8 years younger than me.

  • LK16

    It's totally okay if Lena's writing is 'not for you.' I admire it when people phrase things like that, rather than saying something is 'bad.' For instance, there are a lot of things that are not 'for me' (soccer, kale, super dark and violent movies), but I would never come out and trash these things the way Lena gets absolutely trashed just because I happened to not be into them.

    If you have genuinely sampled Lena's writing and found it not to your taste, that is one thing. But I find it interesting when people dismiss her life stories out-of-hand just because she's a young, upper-class woman. Is it all of these things that turn you off, or the combination of them? Because there are a lot of great writers who were born wealthy, a lot of great female writers, and a lot of great young writers.

    Being these things doesn't make Lena a less interesting person, or make her stories any less worthwhile than anyone else's. You may read them and think, 'huh, yep, not for me.' But to dismiss them without giving them a chance at all, or to declare them completely worthless (which I know you haven't done here, but a lot of people have) is an odd knee-jerk response to me. Who are we to tell her, or anyone, to shut up when it comes to telling stories about their own lives?

  • JustOP

    "Would you buy it".

    Nope. I'm not interested in reading the story of a very rich privileged white girl have opportunities presented to her very few other people did, who then went on to pen a television show that presents the apparently intense and unfair social/cultural/life struggles of rich white girls in New York.

  • LK16

    This whole Gawker article is great (don't be fooled by the intentionally click-baity headline), but I think this section is pretty relevant:

    'Girls is a funny thing: A story about some fairly shitty people, well-told on balance, that we treat like a reality show about white girls in a precious bubble of privilege and self-absorption. As a concept, it's a double lightning-rod comprising the words "feminism" and "hipster," the two most volatile words in the English language ca. 2012.'

    Also, I want to take your whole phrase and reapply it to the show LOUIE, see what happens --

    Nope. I'm not interested in reading the story of a very rich privileged famous white man who has opportunities presented to him very few other people do, who then went on to pen a television show that presents the apparently intense and unfair social/cultural/life struggles of while male comedians in New York.

    I suppose you could say that Lena had artist parents and that Louie didn't, but she's not really at fault for where she was born, nor does it make her life story any less interesting or worthwhile. At this point in time, both are equally privileged, yet one is lauded while the other is hated. Louie writes about dudes masturbating and Lena writes about getting UTIs, yet one is praised as 'telling universal truths' while the other is writing 'problems about the privileged.' Why?

  • JustOP

    I'm not interested in Louie either, so I have no qualms with you applying my comment that way. That said, I don't think the two shows are comparable simply because they're written by privileged white people. That ignores the context of the shows and the context of the peoples lives who created them.

    Louie isn't about a wealthy privileged man in his twenties trying to find himself in New York city, the son of rich parents who've carried him through life till this point. It's the story of a middle aged divorced father of two raising his daughters and trying to find love, as well as social commentary on a host of things.

  • LK16

    That is interesting that you're not into Louie -- you just may not be into these types of shows, and that's okay. But they are pretty similar in a lot of ways. I wonder how much of GIRLS you've actually watched -- I don't want to make an assumption one way or another, but just because these two shows reveal two people at different points in their lives -- one after college, one after a divorce, doesn't make one inherently better than the other. They're both drama/comedies about very flawed people, and both offer 'social commentary on a host of things.'

    GIRLS is also pretty critical of these young people, which goes to Clifton's point about how it's not a reality show -- I find it interesting when people can't separate the creator from what has been created. Lena Dunham is not Hanna Horvath. She's just as critical of these characters as other people, which is something a lot of people seem to miss. Creating a terrible monster of a character doesn't always reflect on who you are as a person, even if that character superficially represents the life you've come from -- if it did, we would hate a lot more writers (Bret Easton Ellis, Nabokov, etc.) But I suppose whether we should just a writer's work by the writer's own life is probably a much larger discussion, haha.

  • Ali2044

    I watched the whole first season of Girls because it sounded like something I would like, but it just...wasn't. I didn't relate to any of the characters and I'm a middle class white girl myself. I didn't relate to any of the characters in Sex and the City either, but at least it was stupid, fun eye-candy. The characters on Girls just all seem to be awkward, whiny, brats. I don't know if that's intentional or not, but I didn't find it an enjoyable show to watch.

  • Yossarian

    I'm just curious. Are you equally uninterested (and, just as vocal about your lack of interest) when it comes to reading stories by "very rich" privileged white men? Do you approach the creative output of a Judd Apatow or Joss Whedon with the same derisiveness?

    And who's books are you reading, considering that most people who get published have benefited from a certain amount of privilege and access to opportunities that few other people do. Are you just reading self-published ebooks? Are they any good?

    Or are we doing that thing again where invent these flimsy pretenses to hold the things that young women make to a higher standard so that we can publicly criticize their work and invalidate their accomplishments?

    You don't have to like her show or buy her book but can you honestly look inside yourself and question why you've adopted this knee-jerk negative response and dressed it up in this complete bullshit narrative about privilege? Why is this how you think? Did you read it somewhere else and think it sounded cool? If so, why? Is it some combination of your own inadequacy and a resentment of the success of others that is agitated by the fact that it's a young woman who is successful? And she's not making a thing you, personally, enjoy consuming? Is that what it is or is there something else?

  • NateMan

    You can think someone's a pretty decent person and still have absolutely no interest in their work. I wouldn't have any interest in the memoir of someone who made the male version of Girls either (see: Entourage). The notion that Dunham was 'lucky', for example, to find a therapist at such an early age to help her deal with her phobias makes me want to shout at the screen "It's a lot easier to be that lucky when you've got parents rich enough to pay a therapist to be available to you at a moment's notice." Is it important to find a good therapist? Sure. Kept me sane. Is it the easiest thing in the world, even if you're wealthy? Nope. Is it easier? YUP. Her lady-bits aren't part of the equation.

  • JustOP

    Judd Apatow and Joss Whedon aren't writing stories that focus on the issues white mega-rich privileged people face in life. Nor do they adress the concepts of 'privilege' and 'sexism' etc in their products like Dunham does.

    Apatow makes stoner movies, insane comedies about having bad neighbours or about the apocalypse and so on. Whedon made Buffy, which is an infinitely better story about women, starring women, and presenting women - and it's set in a world with vampires. If they started making movies/shows about how hard it is to be the white son of wealthy parents living in New York City in 2014 I'd have problems with that, too.

    About the books I'm reading - you're missing the point. I have no interest in reading an autobiography about a privileged rich woman being awarded rich person privileges in life, that is also written by a privileged rich person. I simply don't care for it. If you find that fascinating, that's fine with me.

    I'm not inventing anything. Standards exist, people just have differing levels.

    As to the epic strawman of your fourth paragraph - you accuse me of being knee jerk, when this is the response I receive for merely criticizing her? Paha.

    In every sense of the word Dunham is privileged. It's not a bullshit narrative as much as it's publicly available information - she's the daughter of two wealthy famous parents. Everyone on her show is somehow interconnected with already famous people. I'm not even sure how to approach the latter half of the paragraph - have you yet to realize insulting people doesn't make a good argument?

  • Yossarian

    Joss Whedon's dad was a tv writer, he's a rich privileged white guy who had opportunities presented to him that very few other people did. If having artist parents with mid-level success (because come on, no one has heard of mr & mrs Dunham, they certainly aren't "very rich") is enough to dismiss the accomplishments of Dunham why doesn't the same standard apply to Whedon?

    Are you really suggesting that Judd Apatow characters are less white and less privileged than Lena Dunham characters? Or is it that you don't really care about this bullshit "Standard" because 90% of what you and I and everyone watches is by, of, and for privileged white people and you only bring it up as an excuse to provide cover against sexism. (Do you realize that insulting people doesn't make a good argument?)

    Should we talk about Louis CK or Michel Gondry or Mark Duplass or Wes Anderson? He cast Francis Ford Coppola's nephew in Rushmore for chrissakes, that's way more egregious than casting David Mamet's kid. (Though I have a sneaking suspicion it wouldn't even occur to you to call out the whiteness and privilege of these dudes. Sofia Coppola, on the other hand, is clearly just treading on privilege and Dad's name & money)

    Standards don't exist. Not like this, not as absolutes. Standards like this are selectively applied. You are reacting to Lena Dunham news by reaching for ways to diminish her accomplishments and criticize a show you don't watch and aren't interested in, not based on it's merits but based on it's subject matter & creator. And it's not based on a Standard (for example, refusing to watch movies made by child rapists. That's a standard.) but based on some convenient and arbitrary sexist bullshit about white privilege and Carroll Dunham's vast art fortune.

    If you're not interested, fine. Make your boring comment (or, better yet, don't) and that's it. But you chose to trot out this Standard and imply that somehow her work is invalid because her parents paid for college and encouraged her interests in art and literature. Which is a bogus and impossible standard, and says more about you (why, op? What's your problem with female creatives? Why you gotta bring them down?) than it does about her (hard work, talent, luck, and privilege combine in Hollywood success story, film at 11:00).

  • JustOP

    You're missing the point. I don't give a shit about those people because they're not using their privilege and wealth to pen stories about how difficult it is to be people with privilege and wealth.The inherent hypocrisy within that is something I take issue with. Do you not understand this? If any of those people you mentioned did that, I would also call them out.

    Standards DO exist. You're not the enforcer of what are and are not standards. In the same way, me stating my own standards isn't the same as being the arbiter of what is the 'right' standard.

    If the level of your argument is calling me 'sexist' for criticizing a television show and then making a number of assumptions about my character with zero evidence in order to present a fallacious statement about myself is the very best you can muster, then I'm not going to take you very seriously. The only thing boring about this entire situation is the inevitable accusations of 'sexism' or any other sort of bigotry that rears it's ugly head whenever this show is criticized.

  • Yossarian

    This is 40 isn't a self-indulgent story about how difficult it is to be a rich privileged white dude? Wes Anderson's entire oeuvre isn't a nostalgia-tinged meditation on the ennui of a privileged, lily-white childhood?

    (While we're on it, how exactly is Girls about "the issues white mega-rich privileged people face in life"?)

    What I'm suggesting is that some combination of the generally toxic public discourse surrounding this writer and your own latent issues with inadequacy, class, and gender have resulted in you throwing your lot in with the nonsensical "she don't deserve to have a say because she's wealthy and a hypocrite" crowd. Which tends to be largely straw-man arguments and thinly-veiled misogyny.

    I'm just asking you to examine your beliefs and tell me why. Is this really your standard? Would you react just as strongly if a rich white man wrote something autobiographical? Would it be as uninteresting, and would invest as much time in convincing the rest of Pajiba of just how uninteresting it was to you? Is it really a standard?

  • Great use of ennui. We would have also accepted malaise ... malaise. You control the board.

  • JustOP

    This article isn't about This is 40, nor is it about Wes Anderson. On the same coin, Apatow and Anderson aren't celebrated for the same things that Dunham are. If they were, I'd take issue. I've already expressed this sentiment.

    "What I'm suggesting is that some combination of the generally toxic public discourse surrounding this writer and you own latent issues with inadequacy, class, and gender"

    Firstly, thank you for the laugh. Secondly, This sort of comment does little to add to the proper discourse you're so fervently calling for, and is little more than a poorly constructed shield to prevent criticism towards Dunham. To criticize her is to be apart of the supposedly 'toxic public discource'. Unfortunately for you I'm not going to fall for such a pathetic tactic. I'm criticizing her show with argument. You're criticizing my arguments with insults. Tell me again which of us is cultivating a toxic atmosphere?

    "have resulted in you throwing your lot in with the nonsensical "she don't deserve to have a say because she's wealthy and a hypocrite" crowd. Which tends to be largely straw-man arguments and thinly-veiled misogyny."

    Again, this sort of lazy arguement isn't adressing my points. You're saying if i'm not with you i'm with *them* - them being nasty misogynist meanies. Poor form, Yossarian. As to 'straw-man' - are you blind to your own words?

    To ask me to question my beliefs relies on the assumption that isn't something I don't already do. I posed my opinion because the very title of the article asks 'Would you buy it?' - I felt simply saying no wasn't a worthy comment. I'm sorry that my standards of purchasing autiobiographies doesn't match to yours, and as a result you feel i'm some sort of misogynist monster.

  • Yossarian

    I'm criticizing her show with argument.

    Ok, let's hear it. Do you have anything substantive to say about the show, other than to imply that a show made by a young woman, about young women, can't possibly be good or interesting (if the women are white and privileged, of course, because that's what this is about).

    No, you're dismissing the show without having seen it, without basis, because you've painted her as rich, self-indulgent, and self-important. So if it's not about gender, how many male writers do you describe that way?

    When you say: "Apatow and Anderson aren't celebrated for the same things that Dunham are" what does that mean? Why do you feel that it bolsters your reactionary criticism of Lena Dunham that she is "celebrated" (and, just like with the word "rich" I think we need to define "celebrated" because I really think it's more cover for vitriol not based on any kind of actual standard) Hating something because you perceive that it is too popular or gets too much attention or gets taken too seriously isn't really saying anything. Engage the work if you want to be taken seriously.

    Criticizing her show or her writing on it's merits is fine. Criticizing her for being a "very rich privileged white girl" with "opportunities presented to her very few other people did" is thinly veiled sexism. It is sexist because it's a standard that is not applied uniformly, by you or anyone else. But Taylor Swift and Shailene Woodley are rich, privileged white girls that are undeserving of our attention.

    You're not some big misogynist monster, you're just reinforcing the default sexist reaction against young women who make art. And I'm sick of seeing it all over Pajiba so I'm calling you out and making an example of it. And I'm lumping you in with that larger conversation because said absolutely nothing insightful or informed that would make me think you are doing anything but parroting the default criticism that she's privileged white girl making a show about rich white girl problems and getting a free pass from everybody and nobody but brave you will point out how unworthy she is so you damn well better be loud and convincing because this is important

  • JustOP

    1. Nowhere did I state a good television show can't be made by young women. That's your invention. My statements are that I'M not interested (not that it's not interesting) in her show because I find issue with it. Those issues are the facts that it I'm not interested in the daily struggles of a group of people whom are very wealthy, very connected, and very privileged. As a result, I'm less likely to be interested in an autobiography coming from the creator of the show. The fact that the show is inspired by her own life, the fact that she herself is wealthy, well connected, and privileged, all lend further credence to my non-interest in it.

    2. "So if it's not about gender, how many male writers do you describe that way". If this article was about a male writer who created a show called Boys utilizing the vast privileges awarded to him, and that show ended up being about how difficult it is to survive without your parents financial aid, and how difficult it is to get a job, and how difficult relationships with women are, and how growing up is tough, despite the fact he's white, wealthy, and is privileged in every sense of the word - I'd be giving my opinion on him far more vitriolically than I have here. To pretend that Lena Dunham's whiteness and privilege makes her akin to every male white person is pure idiocy. It ignores context, it ignores the complexity of different situations, and it is a lazy cop-out designed to make me look sexist.

    3. The only thing you're making an example of is in the way you're perfectly encapsulating the phrase 'making a mountain out of a molehill'. The fact is the only place I visit that ever discusses this show is here - so either I've encountered the 'larger' 'toxic' conversation here from it's users, or that this is my own criticism that is shared by many people.

    I don't mind discussing this with you, or the wider issues at hand. But I don't appreciate the insults, the straw-men used to justify the insults, or the accusations of sexism against me.

  • Yossarian

    And still this problem of you referring to the show as:

    "the daily struggles of a group of people whom are very wealthy, very connected, and very privileged."

    Where are you getting this? The characters are not particularly wealthy or connected. Certainly they are less wealthy and connected than, say, the characters in Seinfeld. But we don't talk about Seinfeld with these terms, and that's my point.

    So a male writer created a show called Seinfeld utilizing the vast privileges awarded to him, and that show ended up being about how difficult it is to survive without your parents financial aid, and how difficult it is to get a job, and how difficult relationships with women are, and how growing up is tough, despite the fact he's white, wealthy, and is privileged in every sense of the word. And yet nobody is giving that opinion anywhere as vitriolically as you are here.

    Another male writer created a show called Louie utilizing the vast privileges awarded to him, and that show ended up being about how difficult it is to survive without your parents financial aid, and how difficult it is to get a job, and how difficult relationships with women are, and how growing up is tough, despite the fact he's white, wealthy, and is privileged in every sense of the word.

    We don't criticize old white men for being privileged, we accept them as the default and we don't bat an eye (that's sort of the essence of what it is to be privileged, really)

    But here is a young woman doing basically the same thing and there is all this criticism of her for being rich and privileged.

    And what I am saying is that the you are using "rich white and privileged" as sort of a code word for "young and female". And that what you are actually responding to is not her race or class but her gender.

    It's like people who say they aren't racist, but those people in Ferguson need to stop looting and get jobs. Or that Muslims need to stop supporting terrorism and it's their fault they can't get their country together. Or that they aren't bigots but gay people just want to force their ideology down all our throats. And their not sexist but they're really sick of all these spoiled rich sorority sluts buying lattes with Daddy's credit card who have their school all paid for.

    If you don't seem to know anything about the people you are talking about but you still have a shitty, heavily generalized, judgmental opinion about them and everyone like them and how undeserving of a neutral benefit-of-the-doubt opinion they are because they are so terrible in some way, usually it's something like this at work.

    The fact that the show is inspired by her own life, the fact that she herself is wealthy, well connected, and privileged

    Because again I have no idea what the fuck you are talking about. Please explain your impression of what is going on here. Lena Dunham is not particularly wealthy or well connected. They didn't give her a show on HBO just because her Dad who has had a couple gallery shows in Manhattan was able to pull some strings. She may benefit some from privilege and support and upbringing- at least relative to you and me and the people in Iraq- but her background is not dissimilar from any of the male writers and creatives I've named in previous comments who all benefit from privilege, race, class, and family support.

    But for some reason you don't have the same knee-jerk reaction, the same need to undermine the legitimacy of their accomplishments by attributing it to external boons. Why not? How come ever single comment you've made all day long has characterized this particular writer/creator as wealthy, well connected, and privileged? What's the basis for that?

    If it's actually based on something real that you can support I'd love to hear what that is.

    If it's not grounded in anything, if it is selectively applied, then I have to wonder why it's applied here and not elsewhere. And my guess is that it is because she's a young woman.

  • JustOP

    Seinfield and Louie being white privileged guys is peripheral to their stories/plot. Girls hinges on the reality that these white, wealthy, privileged girls in New York have to *gasp* take responsibility for their lives. It's vapid and self serving, not to mention the lack of diversity the show has.

    I'm using rich white and privileged to mean rich white and privileged. I have zero interest in communicating with the numerous strawmen in your middle paragraphs. My opinion are my own and are exactly that - I don't like the television show Girls. My reasons are above, I'm not going to tirelessly repeat them. The only reason my responses are so called 'vitriolic' is due to the way you've attempted to do some sort of 'calling out' on me and label me a number of things. It has little to do with my feelings towards the show.

    I like how you describe Lena Dunham as being 'not particularly' wealthy or connected - she's the daughter of two famous people, she has a television show based on the events of her life before the age of 30, and every major cast member on the show is related somehow to another famous person. She's working with Judd Apatow who, I think we're all aware, if pretty well known for the nepotism his movies display. She has benefitted *massively* from the opportunities awarded to her by her upbringing.

    If you're wondering why I'm commenting on Lena Dunham, and not people who aren't Lena Dunham, in an article ENTIRELY ABOUT LENA DUNHAM, then I have no words.

  • Yossarian

    Girls hinges on the reality that these white, wealthy, privileged girls in New York have to *gasp* take responsibility for their lives.

    What does this even mean? In what way is the concept of privilege so essential to the show, moreso than any other show or film about growing up? How is this anything other than a pathetic and nonsensical grasp at something to criticize the show about? It's bad because attractive white people in their 20s living on their own in New York? This is what you find so egregious? Have you ever watched a sitcom before?

    And to the extent that the show is aware of and engaged in the idea of privilege and entitlement, why is that a bad thing? The show (that you don't watch) is not pitying or celebrating these characters. It's rather critical of them. Lena Dunham the writer/creator is not aggrandizing Hannah the character, the characters are presented as flawed. Other characters call them out on their bullshit. The audience is invited to judge them and challenged to observe them warts-and-all.

    she's the daughter of two famous people, she has a television show based on the events of her life before the age of 30, and every major cast member on the show is related somehow to another famous person.

    In what world are Lena Dunham's parent's "famous"? Famous for what? Tell me anything they've done that anyone knows them for?

    The idea that her parents are famous and that this is where her career comes from is ridiculous, but your stubborn and misguided instance that you have some kind of point is exactly what I'm talking about.

    But maybe we got off on the wrong foot. Let's try this:

    Don't you think that Lena Dunham is clearly very talented and hard working? That the fact that she has her own show on HBO at under 30 which she writes for and performs on, which is going into it's fourth season, is an extraordinary accomplishment. That, even if you don't watch the show or know much about her, and her work might not be your cup of tea, that these simple facts that you do know give the impression that she's pretty good at what she does and the accomplishments are impressive?

    Would you agree?

  • JustOP

    I have no idea why my disinterest in the show has caused such a response in you.

    Her parents are famous, there is no question about that. They just aren't famous in the way that they regularly appear in articles/stories surrounding film/televison/music. That doesn't mean they're not 'famous', they're just not 'famous' in the film/television/music arena. Her mother is a multi-award winning painter and photographer and her father has his artwork featured in galaries across both europe and the states. They are also wealthy enough to have funded her film Tiny Furniture for 25k. Dunham herself has stated how her upbringing has both influenced her and lent her privilege, in an interview for Tiny Furniture stating: 'Before I made "Tiny Furniture," I had a really strong network of New York independent filmmaker friends'. She attended an elite college in New York city. It's not a stubborn idea backed by little evidence, it's just a simple reality.

    I don't like Girls. I don't enjoy the story it's exploring, I don't enjoy the characters (regardless of whether that's the point or not), and I find the concepts it explores as both trivially self indulgent and clearly not marketed towards me.

    As to, "would you agree?" Yes, I would. Me stating my dislike isn't the same as saying she's talentless, lazy, that her accomplishments are meaningless, and that she's a bad writer.

  • Yossarian

    Paul Thomas Anderson's father Ernie Anderson was an actor who was the voice of A.B.C. and a Cleveland television late-night horror movie host known as "Ghoulardi" (after whom Paul Thomas Anderson later named his production company). No doubt his father's fame and family support helped him make his early short films and his first feature Hard Eight. His success at Sundance led to a feature film deal to make Boogie Nights.

    Paul Thomas tends to make films set in Southern California about white people that explore father/son relationships and damaged young men coming to terms with being an adult.

    Joss Whedon is a third-generation TV writer, as he is the son of Tom Whedon, a screenwriter for The Electric Company in the 1970s and The Golden Girls in the 1980s, and the grandson of John Whedon, a writer for The Donna Reed Show in the 1950s. No doubt his father's fame and support helped him get his early start working as a writer for Rosanne. His success as a TV writer led to the opportunity to write screenplays and eventually to create television shows and direct films.

    Lena Dunham's father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter, and her mother, Laurie Simmons, is an artist and photographer, and a member of the Pictures group. No doubt her families fame, connections and support helped her early short films and her first feature, Tiny Furniture. Her success at SXSW led to the HBO deal to co-create, write, and star in Girls.

    For what it's worth I think all three are amazingly talented and amount my favorite writer/directors working today, along with Quentin Tarantino. His is the backstory that doesn't really fit the mold, although I'm sure he hustled and took advantage of whatever he could to get his foot in the door and then keep it there.

    Everyone who has had success in that industry has taken advantage of their circumstances and their privilege. That's why almost everyone directing a film or running a television show is a white male. They have the greatest privilege.

    Should we go back through your Disqus comment history and see how many times you pointed out that Joss Whedon or Paul Thomas Anderson are rich white privileged men?

    Not liking something is fine. My problem with your comments is that when you point out how rich and privileged Lena Dunham is and attribute her success to her "famous" parents and their "extreme" wealth (aka $25K financing of her first film) you diminish her accomplishments. When you do this to women who manage to break into the film & television but don't extend the same criticism to men, that's sexism. That's exactly how sexism works. How are we ever going to lend enough support to get to an equal amount of female directors & show runners if the few who manage to wheel and deal there way to creative control of a small budget series are forever hounded by assholes like you for how it's all their wealth and privilege and you're really not interested.

    And yeah your insignificant little comment is one meaningless drop in the bucket, but when not stop and think and question your bullshit assumptions like I asked way back at the beginning?

    Quick, play word association with yourself, what's the first thing that pops into your head?

    - Paul Thomas Anderson

    - Joss Whedon

    - Lena Dunham

    Probably only one on that list is rich, entitled, privileged and undeserving of their success. Why is that, do you think? And you certainly didn't invent this narrative, but you certainly do perpetuate it. And so do millions of other people. Again, it's how sexism works. And it's not just Lena Dunham who by now is established enough to be more or less above it, but it's every other young kid growing up looking for a way in trying to realize her dream of being a filmmaker even though everyone says it's for boys.

    You're going to comment in a public forum on the internet on Pajiba and what you come up with is a dozen replies to me about how, no, really, she's totally rich and privileged plus the conversation surrounding her show is all about gender and privilege so it's like she's asking for it.

  • JustOP

    "You diminish her accomplishments. When you do this to women who manage
    to break into the film & television but don't extend the same
    criticism to men, that's sexism."

    Criticizing her television show isn't sexism because there's a lack of female representation in terms of female showrunners and characters, it's just criticism. The fact that she's been able to 'break' into the industry doesn't make her above criticism.

    "Should we go back through your Disqus comment history and see how many
    times you pointed out that Joss Whedon or Paul Thomas Anderson are rich
    white privileged men?"

    Go ahead. Better yet, go through my comment history looking for articles about these people asking me about them. My favourite thing about JW is Buffy & Firefly, but if you asked me my opinion of him or his work I'd make the point that he is prone to nepotism so badly that he gets a section on wikipedia devoted to it.

    Look, I don't think you understand my issue. Dunham used her privilege and power not to create stories about other people, not to create a diverse cast of characters (like JW), not to tell a story with any real commentary about any of the important social issues of our time, not even to make a unique story. It's a story about her, where all the characters come from 'a part' of herself, an autobiographical spiel on her life and the 'mistakes' she learned on the way. To me, that is ridiculously self indulgent, it's vapid, and I have no interest in watching a story about it.

    To my memory, JW, or PTA haven't done that. Can you give me an example of a work they created that's akin to what Dunham's done? If so, I'll give it my wrath.

    As to word association:

    PTA - Mark Wahlberg/Boogie Nights
    Joss Whedon - Nathan Fillion/Firefly
    Lena Dunham - Toss up between Girls and The Innkeepers

    The things that come to mind have little to do with rich/entitled/privileged. So I can't answer the questions as to why I think it would. If we're going to mindlessly simplfy our discussion then all you've come up with in this discussion is 'you're sexist for criticizing girls'. Irritating, isn't it?

  • Repo


  • Sara_Tonin00

    Thanks, I needed that. I feel like Pajiba is very argumentative today. And I'm bored out of my gourd at work, but for once I feel so much angst here that I can't get involved.

  • NateMan

    Dude, it's not a story BY Dunham. If it were a story by Dunham, with a storyline I was actually interested in (which does not include the storyline of Girls, Entourage, etc., not for me) I'd absolutely give it a shot and I bet OP would too. It's a story ABOUT Dunham, by herself. Neither Apatow or Whedon have written a memoir about their lives. Nor would I feel obligated to read it if they did. Whedon's I might, given our interest in the same subject matter. Hell, I haven't even read a biography of Stephen King, and his life matches mine a lot more than the others. Ditto for Rowling.

    No one said her work was invalid. Merely uninteresting to us. You're having an unwarranted defensive reaction to the subject at hand.

  • JoannaRobinson

    "This Is 40" is more of a self-indulgent, hyper-priviliged, disgusting woe-is-me autobiographical whine-fest than ANY episode of Girls. Ditto "Funny People." Apatow isn't above the fray here. And I say that as a huge fan of his other work.

  • Yossarian

    Come on, Nate. Don't be so disingenuous.

    Words mean things. Saying "This does not interest me (fullstop)" would be relatively innocuous. It would be trite and boring, but it's not something worth reacting to. (although, constantly going out of your way to say "Hey guys, this thing that is made by a woman doesn't interest me! I don't find this particular thing interesting! No interest here!" can also be meaningful)

    But it's the constant appeals to "rich, white, privileged" that catch my eye. Is OP entitled to his opinion? Sure. And since he's sharing it with all of us I'm curious. What's it about? Why use the words he used? Why does he imply that this particular voice is uninteresting to him because it is white and privileged? Are these repeated words intended to say something about the legitimacy of the creator? That she is undeserving of having a voice at all? That she is in violation of some standard? And if that's what he means (which, I think it is, he's repeated it more than enough) is that standard applied evenly or is it only really an appealed to when we have young women making things?

  • I've said this before, and I'll say it again: I believe Lena Dunham is talented; I just loathe what her talent produces.

  • Lisa

    Exactly- and yes I'm a girl.

  • Bananapanda

    I just listened to her show on Marc Maron's podcast and was surprised how much I liked it- she's clearly well read, aware that she had an outre artistic upbringing but was interesting and articulate. She's very New York (Soho, Philip Roth and Woody Allen were brought up) so that will be off-putting to many if you haven't been around parents who read and discuss such things.

    That said I hate a lot of things about Girls but am fascinated that a 27 year old is at the helm.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Are you saying you actually dislike the quality of the content she creates and prefer to keep things civil rather than viciously attack her personal integrity because she's a successful woman with her own show on TV?

    You sexist, woman-hating misogynist! Get out of here with your well-reasoned justifications and polite demeanor!

    [goes back to Jezebel]

  • NateMan

    You mean you don't want to read something from the point of view of a Sex in the City lady? And here I thought I was the only one!

  • Lena’s book is called Not That Kind Of Girl (subtitle: A young woman tells you what she’s “learned).

  • NateMan

    "Of course burning books is always wrong. Always! But MAYBE..."

    What I imagine Louis CK would say.

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