Lena Dunham Responds to the Critics Who Say Girls Isn't Diverse EnoughS

Girls creator Lena Dunham was interviewed for today's Fresh Air, and she was didn't back down from addressing the criticism she and the show have faced regarding the lack of any people of color as main characters. She said,

I take that criticism very seriously. ... This show isn't supposed to feel exclusionary. It's supposed to feel honest, and it's supposed to feel true to many aspects of my experience. But for me to ignore that criticism and not to take it in would really go against my beliefs and my education in so many things.

The honesty versus expectation debate has been well-covered by both her critics and defenders, but the crux of her defense, such as it is, is basically that it was an accident—specifically one that resulted from her working in a pretty insular way:

I wrote the first season primarily by myself, and I co-wrote a few episodes. But I am a half-Jew, half-WASP, and I wrote two Jews and two WASPs. Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting. If I had one of the four girls, if, for example, she was African-American, I feel like — not that the experience of an African-American girl and a white girl are drastically different, but there has to be specificity to that experience [that] I wasn't able to speak to. I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, 'I hear this and I want to respond to it.' And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can't speak to accurately.

OK, but this argument only takes you so far, since there are plenty of other major characters—like men, for instance—which she clearly hasn't lived as, yet she still managed to include them in the show. As for the four main characters, if they're really just strands of Dunham herself, then maybe it just would have been better to call the show Girl instead of Girls, which implies they were aiming for something a bit broader.

Lena Dunham Addresses Criticism Aimed At 'Girls' [NPR]