Everything Lena Dunham does is amazing and important. Even the stuff she doesn’t do but has her name attached to it is amazing. Ahem, Girls nail polish. Anything that she creates I will read or watch from now until she retires. If the thing she does next sucks, whatever she does after that will still have my full attention, no matter what it is. I can say this because her show Girls is the show that will change the world for the next generation of girls and women and I want to support Dunham in doing this. I love everything about her show except that it is too short and the seasons don’t have enough episodes.
I watched Tiny Furniture after watching the first two seasons of Girls and I thought to myself, this would be a good movie if I hadn’t watched Girls first. Everything is eclipsed by how smart Girls is, even whatever Lena Dunham did before Girls. Tiny Furniture is still very brave in that it shifts the perspective to the strange and insecure things we do while trying to find ourselves in these times. It’s just that Girls builds on it and does it better so that the times in Tiny Furniture seem so long ago; these times become those times. This makes me confident that Lena Dunham only gets better.
Soon her book will come out and season 3 of Girls will air and in a few years we’ll see reruns of Girls wherever those reruns will be allowed to play. We will no longer be shocked, maybe because a cleaned up version will play on cable tv or maybe because the world will have changed and anything that hints at the character’s limitations because of their gender will seem perplexing. Eventually we’ll forget what the world is like today and our attitudes will be considered crude, sexist, and racist and young people will not be able to grasp exactly what it was like before women were allowed to be anything less than gorgeous to move through the world with some semblance of success. They won’t understand what it is like to try to “become who we’re going to be” in today’s job market.
That is why I am so glad that Girls elicits such a strong response from its fans and detractors. These responses measure how we see the world. They measure what makes some people angry and some people jubilant while watching the show and this seems to be the most honest response to feminist issues and the issues of young people out there. When we try to explain how this show changed the world people won’t understand. We’ll have to scour the web and print out those responses as proof of the shocking opinions people expressed.
People joke that instead of Women’s Studies, future students will have Girls studies and I can only think that before Girls it felt like feminism had stagnated. It might be that the show came along just as right wingers were beginning anew their war on women, or that women were suddenly beginning to wake up to the strange injustices that we accepted as status quo. Maybe it was that a new generation of women was surprised to find 1001 examples of misogyny and inequality even though they grew up being told they were equal. Which one came first Girls or a new fight for equality? If I’m giving Girls too much credit it is because I think it woke younger women up to the subtlest sexism that exists in the world, not only through the show but the viewers written responses to the show. I also think it created an atmosphere for women over 30 to admit that there are so many more things to be fought for before we are considered equal.
Lena Dunham will be creating a show based on Betty Halbreich’s book Secrets of a Fashion Therapist: What You Can Learn Behind the Dressing Room Door. It will be interesting to see if the subject matter of the new show elicits as strong a response from viewers as Girls does, but for being anti-feminist in subject matter. As a lover of fashion with strong feminist views I have no problem seeing the way I dress as an extension of my freedom but understand that fashion has long been seen as an enemy to feminism. Accordingly, I look forward to seeing the correlation between the progression of women’s rights and how the wardrobe reflects this. I have to wonder too, how the show will address those times when politically incorrect and sexist things happen to the characters and their era-appropriate reactions. I can only wait and see.
I am impressed by the challenge that Lena Dunham has set for herself in creating a period drama about fashion when she is known for being “the voice of my generation”. Mostly I can’t wait to watch a great television show that has eye-candy fashion, great writing and hopefully as great a cast as Girls has.