The Lena Dunham Problem

David Shankbone

Lena Dunham is big business. Just her name evokes the strongest of human reactions. The IMDB message boards, a place where good comments go to die and bad comments grow to Voldemort proportions, has called her basically every kind of farm animal in existence. Some choice comments:

Yea so my girlfriend is watching this and I ended up sitting there watching it and she comes on naked? Ugh *beep* disgusting. 

Quest for dumpiness – Lena, who walked the tight-rope between dumpy and do-able, finally took the plunge into dump-ville. She joined the ranks of the throngs of small town Southern girls by getting the 50yr old woman haircut. Other than the dyke mullet, there are few haircuts that send straight guys running for the hills better than the old lady cut on the 20 something yr old girl.

I don’t hate her,… I like her show, I mean,… I think some moments are stupid and weak, but is also something different. I do think however she is overrated and there is too much hype on her and her show.

What an ugly woman! Looked horrible at the Emmy Awards. She was dressed like a circus clown. 

These comments are mean but the second from the last one caught me. It seems that everyone over 40 is ready to call Lena the voice of our generation, but being in my generation, no one is even close to giving her our voice. We’re barely giving her our praise.

And it’s not that we think her show, Girls, is downright terrible (well, I guess some of us do. Personally, I think it isn’t terrible, nor do I think it’s fantastic. I think it exists and is pretty good at existing. I swear, I don’t mean any of this as an insult. The show is fine.) I think that most of us are most offended by Girls not for its content but for its takeover.

Because the thing is, Girls is nothing new to us. I guess it’s new for the 40+ crowd, but we’ve been blogging all this shit for years now. It’s just that Dunham got lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time, and from the home of the right people.

So is it just jealousy? Yeah, you know what? It is a little bit of jealousy. I don’t think there’s anything she’s doing that I haven’t seen done just as well or better than on my friends’ blogs or their YouTube channels. How did she get her show anyway? She made a movie. A small indie film starring her and her mom, with her sister. How did that get noticed enough to have someone say, ‘Here’s your HBO show, enjoy”?

The Lena Dunham problem is that the older generations are using her to speak for us, when the thing is, she’s speaking with us or even after us. Nothing she’s doing is new, and we wish it was maybe done a little better. As a female writer, I’m happy that she’s got a show and a $3 million book deal, because it shows that people are willing to listen with their money to female writers. And that’s great. There’s lots of Lena Dunhams out there. She’s just the only Lena Dunham who got there first. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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