Lena Dunham, star of the hit HBO comedy Girls, leaves me terribly conflicted. On one hand, I loathe her insanely selfish and entitled character on the show. On the other, her portrayal is brilliant. Part of me feels like she represents a certain kind of annoying hipster that often makes my skin crawl. Another part of me just thinks she is damn funny.
The way-too gratuitous nudity on the show with seemingly no rhyme or reason leaves me thinking she is either trying to make some ridiculous point, or she's just an exhibitionist. But, when I see her make fun of herself on Saturday Night Live in a skit about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, I think maybe the joke is on me for taking it too seriously.
This is the quandary I find myself in every time my wife suggests we watch Girls. Let's be clear, were it up to me, I wouldn't watch it. It's not that I don't think it is a well crafted show. It is. But I have such intense dislike for the characters, I wonder out loud every time why I sit through it.
But why wouldn't anyone admire what Dunham has accomplished? It is nearly impossible to create a show that will even get recognized by a network, let alone turned into a show. And once the show is on the air, your chances of success are slim, never mind that the cast is almost entirely young women, and not all traditionally beautiful. In Hollywood, where women are dropped into a handful of type castings, it is refreshing that an ensemble comedy could reach a wide audience.
And Dunham herself, despite the fact that she grew up the child of well known artists, appears quite down to earth, dorky even. In a hilariously awkward interview with Jimmy Fallon early in her career, she admitted to not only having a huge crush on him in high school, but penning a play about him in which the two switched bodies and fell in love. It's honest and charming, but also bizarre and uncomfortable, not unlike Girls.
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Still, I find Dunham the person far more charming and interesting than her character -- at least in interviews -- and that makes watching her show all the more difficult. I struggle with the idea that this rather charming young woman would write and star in a show that features such repugnant human beings, and not in a soap opera, love to hate them way. But they aren't villains either. They float in some nebulous region in between only deepening my internal conflict.
Maybe I'm over thinking it. It's just TV. And maybe because I am so compelled to dislike it, that means Girls has a deeper meaning for me than I realize. Do you see what this has done to me now?
When I told my wife I was going to write about this topic, she said she was glad and that maybe I'll finally figure out why I hate Girls so much and gain a better understanding of my complicated feelings for its star. Turns out, I'm more confused than ever, which means I have to keep watching, and maybe that's the point.
At least I can laugh at Dunham's "Scandal" skit on SNL, where she is her adorably winsome self, and for a moment, I forget I hate her, except I don't.