The Truth about ‘Girls’

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“What is the purpose of all of the nudity in ‘Girls’?”

This is the question that a reporter asked the cast and producers of HBO’s show “Girls” a few weeks ago. I might have gone a step further and asked, “What is the purpose of ‘Girls’?” or “How do you think your show is bettering humanity?” (Spoiler alert on that last question – it’s not.)

During the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Tim Molloy of The Wrap looked to creator Lena Dunham for the answer to his question about the incessant nudity in ‘Girls’.

“I don’t get the purpose of all of the nudity on the show, by you particularly, and I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they are doing it,” Molloy said. “They are doing it to be salacious and, you know, titillate people. And your character is often naked just at random times for no reason.”

This is the same question that I’ve wanted to ask every time I’ve seen a clip, preview, or episode of the HBO show. And I think a lot of others want to know the answer too. And – to be honest, I think we all deserve an answer if the nudity is not an issue and there is some reason for it.

Instead, this question caused the producers and cast to go into a ”rage spiral”.

“Girls” creator, writer, and lead actress Lena Dunham responded, “It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem, and you are going to have to kind of work that out with whatever professionals you’ve hired.”

Ok, Lena. Calm down. Molloy wasn’t attacking your body or your right to be naked on HBO, he was just asking a question.

Also, to say that it’s a “realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive”… I guess we have different definitions of what it means to be alive. Seriously?

The show’s executive producer, Judd Apatow, jumped on board and railed against the reporter saying that his question was “offensive,” as well as “sexist” and “misogynistic.”

Later, another ‘Girls’ executive producer, Jenni Konner, said that she was still “spacing out” in a “rage spiral” over Molloy’s question about nudity in the show. She said, “I was just looking at him and going into this rage [over]this idea that you would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. The idea, it just makes me sort of sick.”

The question for me is no longer about nudity, the question I want to ask is – “Why did Dunham, Apatow, and Konner get so defensive?”

The answer is: The show has no real substance. I’ve watched the show, and every time I watch it, all I want to do is ask for my money back and the last 30 minutes of my life.

Lena Dunham and her ‘Girls’ team have been hailed as “feminists” and glorified for “promoting real women’s lives”, but let’s be honest… this show actually degrades women, friendships, and sex

The female characters on ‘Girls’ have no high aspirations – and what little dreams they do have, need to be funded by their parents or grandparents. These girls are off in a dream world where you can meander through life, not trying hard or sacrificing anything for your dreams, and have it all funded by your parents or someone else. (Sound familiar? See: Sandra Fluke.)

This is not the feminist dream, it’s actually a nightmare. Women are strong, fascinating creatures, but this ‘Girls’ degrades their intellect, their strength, their lives and their bodies. This show could be a powerhouse, that works to empower women, but instead there is nothing empowering about this show.

This show also takes the beauty, power, and awe out of sex. The characters treat sex as a bodily function, instead of something amazing and powerful. I guess in a pop culture way, this is just a reflection of the fact that married people have better (and more) sex.

Don’t waste any time watching ‘Girls. This show has no substance, and the creators know that; which is why they got so defensive when the journalist asked about all of the nudity.

Life is beautiful, amazing, and full of wonder. Women are powerful, strong, and should strive to accomplish great things in their lives (as should men). Sex is fascinating, exciting, and is one of the greatest expressions of love we have. Don’t support shows like “Girls” that degrade the true beauty of life, sex and love. We all deserve better that.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

Kate Bryan grew up in Michigan, but now resides in Washington, D.C. She holds a B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a Masters degree in Public Affairs and Political Communication from the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland. Follow her on Twitter at @katembryan.

1 Comment

  1. Dear Kate,

    I think I understand why you don’t get a lot out of “Girls” as a show: your expectations for it are not correctly positioned. That is to say, you expect it to be a feel-good show that feeds its audiences a great moral every episode about “female empowerment.” It is quite the opposite. The point of the show is to capture the culture that women have to live in, and all the horrors that go along with it. I think this is empowering for a different reason: it doesn’t show me an ideal that doesn’t exist, one that I should try to aspire for despite its impossibilities, but rather shows me the realities of what male and female interaction looks like. Your life is probably drastically different from any of the characters on this show, so maybe you haven’t experienced the perspective that it offers. That’s fine. But understand that there are other perspectives–very real ones–that are covered in the subject matter of this show. You said it in this very article: “I guess we have different definitions of what it means to be alive.” That’s exactly right, and maybe what your article should have been more focused on. Except then you undercut that statement with the “seriously?” comment that followed. Maybe if you understood this fundamental truth, you would understand what Girls accomplishes in that you would be content not to understand it. We all have different perspectives, and a pervasive one in the current culture is a difficult and complex relationship between women and their bodies, their sex lives, and the expectations surrounding what they do with themselves and who they let do it to them. This show helps to shed light on some of the atrocities, as well as the beauties, of womanhood from the stance of women who spend time naked just because, who have sex with people because they want to, who have sex with people because they don’t want to, but feel they have to. These are women who live with thousands of different social messages being thrown at them about what they should look like who they should be and what they should expect and what they should and shouldn’t do and it goes on and on and on and on.
    For all its faults, Girls provides a platform to talk about women and sex in a very real and important way. It’s uncomfortable sometimes. It’s not always pleasant to watch. It doesn’t feel empowering in the fable-like way that we have come to expect; but for those of us who have lived with sexual confusion and angst, it feels real. And that is possibly the most radical thing it does as a television show, in a world where Hollywood and TV pervert truth to control the emotions of their viewers and shape the dialogue around certain topics.

    Thanks for reading.

    Lucie

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