Love ‘Girls’ Or Hate It, But Stop Accusing It Of Nepotism
5:00 pm, June 13th | by Laura Donovan
When HBO’s “Girls” first aired, I wanted to hate it, as its main characters are all products of famous families and the program itself is supposed to depict the lives of four average Brooklyn girls. It’s a show, but the contrast felt wrong and almost insulting. Once I actually tuned into the series, however, I was an instant fan in spite of the fact that Lena Dunham had a $30,000 per year high school education and her onscreen persona can barely scrounge up enough cash for food.
The nepotism argument became stale a long time ago, yet Dunham continues to take criticism for being born into privilege and including three other daughters of celebrities on her program. She responded well to the noise in a recent interview with Bill Simmons:
“The whole nepotism storyline…I get it more with Allison [Williams] and Zosia [Mamet] who have dads who are kind of active in the entertainment industry…But I really did want to challenge all the people crying nepotism to actually tell me who either of my parents were, because it’s the contemporary art world! Okay, I’m Laurie Simmons’s daughter. In one sentence, give me the concentrated version of her Wikipedia entry. You cannot! She’s had a lovely career, but she’s a feminist photographer from downtown New York.”
She’s dead-on. Even BuzzFeed responded to the show’s joke poster, which is titled “Nepotism,” with confusion: “They probably all bond over their famous parents on set. Who’s Laurie Simmons? Now I feel dumb.” Dunham isn’t the daughter of Lady Gaga, and nobody put together her film, “Tiny Furniture” for her.
I initially thought I found fault with the show’s nepotism, but later realized that my pet issue is the drastic difference between Dunham and her character Hannah. This week’s episode of “Girls” features Hannah moping that one of her least favorite creative writing classmates has penned a memoir and appeared on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” Just last month, Dunham was on that very segment. Dunham has yet to publish a book, but as even James Franco noted, her TV show is basically her book. In this technological day and age, it may as well be the same thing…or more. Unemployed Hannah mooches off irritated BFF Marnie and can’t be bothered to get a job or pay rent whereas Dunham just purchased a $500,000 one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn Heights, or as Hannah calls it, “grown up Brooklyn.” And Brian Williams’s daughter in Greenpoint? Yeah right.
Though kind of annoying, those details aren’t bothersome enough to stop me from laughing at the Sunday evening show, which definitely speaks true to my own life. Whether Dunham has actually experienced any of the epic fails her character always falls victim to doesn’t matter. What counts is the entertainment value that I and many others have found in it, and no amount of nepotism can take away from the amusement I get from each new installment.