February 03, 2017

Owning It

 
[Writes blog post quickly in between meetings].

I was watching the GIRLS cast last night in conversation with Jenna Wortham as part of the Times Talk series and feel inspired to write about it. These four women have achieved so much in the five years since the TV show first aired. I’ve watched them in interviews over the years, observing how they deal with criticism, backlash, straight-up trolling but also the compliments. In this interview they appear more relaxed, contented, able to sit back in their chairs and reflect. Older, matured, more experienced. Celebratory. It’s a joy to watch. I’ve learned a lot from watching GIRLS unfold.

I love that the New York Times journalist Jenna Wortham was moderating the conversation. In the early(ish) days of GIRLS Jenna wrote the piece for the Hairpin called “Where (My) Girls At?” which comments on the lack of diversity in the storylines and cast. Her piece is also quoted in this brilliant piece by Anna Holmes called “White Girls”. GIRLS definitely had a huge response in terms of think-pieces commenting on how White and Middle Class the show is. I soaked it all up like sponge. I definitely learned a hell of a lot from the conversations that came about from GIRLS, from white privilege to the wider issues with TV commissioning and why representation is so so important. It really made me really fired up and passionate about the importance of everyone feeling represented, just as *I* felt represented in a show like GIRLS. We should live in a world where everyone should be able to see themselves reflected back on TV (and all media.) Lena makes a point about this bias during the Times Talk: “Why did it take Issa Rae 6 more years for her show to get commissioned?” (Sorry, paraphrasing, but definitely watch the whole thing.)

There’s also a bit in the talk where Jenna asks the cast if they are similar in anyway to the characters they play. It’s interesting listening to them reflect on just how much the media love to assume they actually ARE the characters the play. With headlines like “Alison Williams does [SEXUAL THING] in GIRLS” instead of “Marnie”. Alison makes the joke that you never see the headlines “Bryan Cranston does meth.”

My favourite bit of the whole talk is where Lena says “If I was like Hannah, I wouldn’t be this successful.”

It’s SUCH A GOOD POINT.

Hannah is a bit of a mess. Lena is a powerhouse. But still, people love to think they are the same person, and this line made me think, GO LENA.

 

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