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Lena Dunham Knows What You Think of Her, And She Used Last Night's 'Girls' to Tell You So

By Vivian Kane | TV | January 19, 2015 |

By Vivian Kane | TV | January 19, 2015 |

We all know what you think about Lena Dunham. You think she’s an obnoxious, spoiled brat, desperate to show us her boobs, forcing us to name her Voice of a Generation. You can’t stand Girls because why would you want to watch a bunch of rich 20-somethings whine about their privilege (and you think those Seinfeld comparisons are bunk because… reasons). We know. You know who else knows you feel this way? Lena Dunham. She knows what you think of her and last night on Girls, she let us tell her.

This season of Girls gives us Hannah in Iowa. Much of the show’s criticism (and therefore, criticism of Dunham, since the two are inextricably linked) focuses on the characters’ limited world view. They live in a bubble of privilege. This season is about Hannah living outside of that bubble, and I hope the show continues in the direction it began heading last night. We finally saw Hannah forced to listen to criticism that didn’t come from one of her equally spoiled friends. And, no coincidence here, what she heard was everything Dunham herself hears.

In response to a pice she wrote about a borderline abusive sexual encounter, here are some of the issues brought up by Hannah’s MFA writing class.

It’s about a really privileged girl deciding that she’s just gonna let someone abuse her.

I was very distracted by how 50 Shades it was.

In some ways, I was struggling not to be offended because it seemed to really trivialize the very real abuse suffered by some.

Sounds familiar, no? We are all The Guy In Her MFA. And this gem was brought up, probably the number one criticism of Dunham herself.

How are we supposed to critique a work which is very clearly based directly from the author’s personal experience? I had the chance to speak with Hannah yesterday and she is very much this character.
Followed quickly by this stand-in for every single one of us.
I have the same problem and I’ve never even met her. It’s just… look at her. She’s obviously her.
And then Dunham creates a proxy to fire back at her critics that she herself gave voice to, here in the form of another student, D’August.
Even if the character was named Hannah, it doesn’t mean it’s about her. I mean, writers do that all the time. We know that, right? I mean, and if it’s about her, so what? Who fucking cares? This is her voice. This is who she is. We can’t squash her voice and what she’s trying to say.
Here, D’August is the star pupil who everyone fawns over, while everyone else is basically the uber-pretentious living incarnation of the Twitter parody account Guy In Your MFA, so no one’s claiming an objective slant to this scene. Dunham’s dealing with her own criticism has all the subtleties of every time you’ve played out an entire argument in front of a mirror. But for those of us who see Girls’ flaws and still love the show (and appreciate Dunham too), it was wholly satisfying, right up through the MFA douchebro who shut the whole conversation down with his laments over the “lack of sympathy toward the male perspective.”

This entire scene may be self-indulgent, but it’s earned. This is not Lena Dunham ‘finally telling off her critics.’ Hannah does not come out on top here, despite the stamp of ostensible approval from D’August. Rather, Dunham simply opened herself up to acknowledging what she knows we’ve been saying for years. She’s not pretending it doesn’t affect her. Of course it does. But as Hannah’s Joan Cusack doppelgänger classmate told her, “you can’t go to everybody’s house individually and defend your work.” So what can you do? Well, you can write a scene in which you address everyone’s concerns and then go out and party your face off with Andrew Rannells.


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