HBO’s Girls: White Guilt, Precious, Privilege, And The Myth Making Factory

“We exist — whether HBO adapts our stories or not.” — Ta-Nehisi Coates

Funny — ludicrous, perhaps — that the above quote, the above reminder, is still required, still needs a voice. Funny because this is post-race America, or so I’ve been told, where, as a nation, we’re finally above race as a separator and classifier of people.

Post-race America is a convenient lie, a myth, a falsehood which seemingly sprouted the moment Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential election. For if it were true, why must Ta-Nehisi Coates make such a statement? What’s the basis for his reaffirmation of black people’s existence and stories?

The basis stems from the new HBO show Girls, which is, according to the official website, “a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of girls in their early 20s.”

The show’s lack of diversity, its whitewashing of New York City was obvious to many viewers during the series premiere, myself included. Accordingly, Girls received criticism (and, in all fairness, praise) throughout the Internet, including one from Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic. In Coates’ article (the one I quoted above) he chooses to focus on HBO, labeled as a “power-broker” perpetrating the fallacy of whiteness as the sole source of American narrative.

“Whiteness” is not Coates’ word; it is one I’ve co-opted from novelist Toni Morrison’s Playing In The Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, a slim piece of literary criticism I read sometime around 2002. Literature and television are merely different methods used to deploy narrative; strip away the overt differences between these two mediums, textual vs. visual, and one is left with story, perhaps the oldest and most universal art form in human history.

What is, in this context, “whiteness?” Since I’ve lost the book (a consequence of a romantic break-up), I refer to the text made partially available by Google. That said, from Toni Morrison:

“[T]raditional, canonical American literature [which] is free of, uninformed, and unshaped by the four-hundred-year-old presence of, first, Africans and then African Americans in the United States. It assumes that this presence…has no significant place or consequence in the origin and development of that culture’s literature.

“…[A] more or less tacit agreement among literary scholars that, because American literature has been clearly the preserve of white male views, genius, and power, those views, genius, and power are without relationship to and removed from the overwhelming presence of black people in the United States.”

In other words, “whiteness” can be described as a mode of revisionism, a myth-making factory which imagines, then projects, narratives “free of, uniformed, and unshaped by” black people.

This is not a racist tactic; it does not originate from some warped hatred of a specific people. Rather, it is born of, and used as a remedy for, “white guilt.” If one, guilt notwithstanding, cannot or will not deal with race, with racial issues, with black people and one’s relationship to black people, then the easiest solution is to pretend black people do not exist and, therefore, exert no influence upon one’s life.

I must confess. As an artist, I can understand why Girls is devoid of black people: to make any kind of artistic statement, one must remain authentic to his/her perspective and experiences. Perhaps it’s a stretch to suggest Girls makes an artistic statement — then again, I’m of the belief that art is always the act of making a statement, be it personal, political, social, etc.

Art is never created in a vacuum and it is never without an overarching statement or critique of a larger entity. Girls is touted (perhaps more by others than its creator) as the voice of a generation. I believe that to be true, for Girls erases race not only as yet another reinforcement of whiteness, but to acknowledge a generation’s indifference to race beyond, on occasion, overt racism; every one knows a burning cross when they see one, but not all people can see or admit to “white privilege.”

Therein lies the artistic statement of Girls and, just maybe, it explains this nation’s continued fascination with the “post-race” myth: race is an issue unworthy of our time and energy; race is not a ‘white’ problem, and should not be projected onto us; race is ignored and, therefore, no longer exists for us; we have reached, finally, a post-race era in our society.

Racial hatred in the United States, particularly hatred toward black people, fueled lynchings, rapes, bombings, unlawful arrests, illegal and immoral experimentation (see: Tuskegee syphilis study), segregation, denial of voting rights, denial of education, denial of freedom, and the treatment of humans as products, livestock, machines to build a country (see: slavery — yes, we’re still talking about slavery).

Racial indifference, however, is far more subtle and far more egregious. Racial indifference is whiteness: a world drained of its color to represent the imagination of its white creator, be it a director, screenwriter, or TV producer; not only is color — race — absent from the narrative, it is wholly dismissed as an issue specific to some other world, some parallel version of Earth where non-white people live and roam and tell their own stories and, god forbid, demand that those stories be recognized as equally valid and relevant.

Naturally and predictably, the counterattack to such claims is deflection, particularly in the form of Girls writer Lesley Arfin’s tweet.

“What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.”

Precious, and its source material Push, the novel written by Sapphire, is about (what?) black mothers beating black daughters? Illiteracy? Rampant incest in the black community (as some writers have had the gall to suggest)? To understand Precious, you have to understand Push; to understand the novel, you have to understand the novelist or, more to the point, her artistic statement.

From an interview with NPR’s Michele Norris of All Things Considered, Sapphire said:

I wanted to show that this girl is locked out through literacy. She’s locked out by her physical appearance. She’s locked out by her class, and she’s locked out by her color. I encountered this. I had a student who told me that she had had children by her father.

Yes, the representation of an upper-class, college-educated white woman certainly belongs in Push and, by extension, Precious, the story of an obese, dark-skinned, illiterate girl living in the projects, a girl impregnated by her father.

What Ms. Arfin — and perhaps, the generation depicted in Girls — lacks is a general understanding of history, of connection, to say nothing of perspective. Girls exists despite the fact that, in New York City, there are black people who are as rich, talented, and beautiful as the show’s stars.

Precious, conversely, is a story that cannot be told without white people. Precious Jones did not end up poor and in the projects on a whim, but rather through institutionalized racism and discrimination. Directly or otherwise, white people’s influence is exerted upon Precious Jones’ life. It is so because, according to Morrison, Sapphire, like all black artists, “is at some level always conscious of representing one’s own race to, or in spite of, a race…that understands itself to be ‘universal’ or race-free.”

Such representation of black people, of blackness in whole, cannot occur without attention paid to white people, to whiteness. As a black writer, I may very well create a short story comprised of all black characters, but this is done as an escape from whiteness, a reconsideration of blackness — inherently influenced over generations by whiteness — with whiteness stripped away, as if to say, “Enough. No more. Let me tell it my way, if you don’t mind.”

Shows like Girls reinforce the notion that stories rooted in whiteness are universal. This idea comes at the expense of stories from blacks who are shoved to and, to quote Morrison, left to “hover at the margins.” Consequently, the universality of whiteness casts marginal blackness as a toy, as a decorative trinket to be picked up and dropped with little care.

No wonder Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One” was the music of choice during the dinner party scene; naturally, it is a black homeless man who says to “Hannah” (played by Girls creator/director/writer Lena Dunham). “Oh girl, when I look at you, I just want to say, ‘Hello, New York!’”: blacks used for entertainment and validation for whites while, at the same time, exerting no influence on the lives of the white women in Girls. Yet another among “assorted humiliations,” I suppose. TC mark

image – Girls


More From Thought Catalog

  • Aladin Sane

    If I have to read ONE more article about this stupid TV show I’m going to jump in front of a Segway.

    • mensah demary

      well I mean–you didn’t have to click (to say nothing of reading it). The title wasn’t even link bait.

      • Emil Caillaux

        Ironically, I’m interested in watching this show not because of the premise but due to the hate/love/comments/ripples it has created on the Internet and Thought Catalog.

      • mensah demary

        the irony that I’m helping give “Girls” more viewers isn’t lost on me. That said, the show isn’t for me–that is, it doesn’t entertain me–but the whitewashing it perpetrates is just one more in a long line of shows, movies, literature, etc that predate “Girls.”

    • g.

      For a moment there I thought you were going to do something drastic.

    • duncansomerside

      Haha good thing you don’t have to read any of them them!

  • ZZ

    True story, true to history. If I hear one more time that “Girls” says something or anything about girls without reference to class, race and geographic privilege, I just might flip. 

  • JEReich

    Absolutely relevant, well-written, and above all, necessary.

  • Salvador Ramirez


  • Danaynay

    I appreciated this piece.  It’s a very well thought-out and argued article! It’s a touchy topic, but I think you addressed your perspective very well.

  • sfad

    sooooo many commassssssss,,,

    • mensah demary

      Believe it or not, I take that as a compliment.

  • guest

    Best thing Ive ever read on TC, thank you…

  • Dayton C Castleman

    hahahahaaa ummmm

    u have a persecution complex
    and no sense of humor

    • Mensah Demary

      explain, please. or is this dismissive snark?

  • Elyse

    Nailed it. Poise, hard-hitting politics, and insight. This is journalism.

  • Robert Wohner

    In a lot of ways, I think we would be agreed on the dynamics of how race is discussed and depicted or not discussed and depicted in America. You’re saying a lot that’s worth thinking about. 

    But I do think people need to stop projecting their own need for self-validation from seeing themselves or people like themselves on television. My favorite TV sitcom is Frasier. He very well could be the “whitest”, as you describe whiteness, person in television history. I like the show because he’s cluelessly unaware of how ridiculous his pomposity is.  And he’s funny. The writers of the show didn’t acknowledge the fact that there are rich, cultured, black people in Seattle. That’s okay. If Frasier suddenly had a black BFF, I would have found that more patronizing than an affirmation of a higher good. Because that isn’t Frasier. My point is there are a lot of worthwhile stories to be told in the world. Don’t demand one story tell every other story in its own narrative. 

    And the idea that New York is some sort of massive multicultural orgy is overblown. That’s simply a myth. The show ought not become a televised college brochure. 

    • mensah demary

      if you think this is about self-validation with respect to seeing more black faces on television, then you missed my point entirely.

      • Robert Wohner

        Your hypothesis is that whites depict themselves in art as operating outside the influence of blacks, and I’m guessing you’d include other minorities or other socio-economic groups as well. You are, in a nutshell, arguing that whites cannot continue to ignore the relevance their actions have on blacks and the relevance blacks have on them. That is a worthwhile point to think about. I do believe there are other groups that would make a similar statement. But the insistence that they do so derives for many from a need for validation, for a need for the media to acknowledge that black stories exist, and more importantly, that they matter. I don’t think I’m saying anything unreasonable or a slight to your arguments. For me, as a black person, I live blackness everyday. My existence validates that. I don’t need HBO to reaffirm that for me. Especially not in a show like Girls. 

      • mensah demary

        agreed. what do I care if HBO airs “Black Girls?”

        well, until it’s noticed that there are no white girls on the show. then it’ll just waste away in obscurity (see: The Wire) or get cancelled.

        that’s the point, right? you can watch “Girls” and retain your sense of identity. Conversely, “Black Girls” would have nothing to offer to white viewers–or so they might think–and it’ll be relegated to a “black show” for “black people.”

      • Robert Wohner

        I think you’re taking an important way to evaluate policy (don’t kid yourself that the decisions you make exist in a colorless vacuum) and are using it to evaluate art and television.  Which for me is hard, because its harder to quantify the consequences of shows like Girls.  Which is why I’m respectfully not fully embracing your argument. 

        For example,  the Cosby Show was the most popular show of the 1980s. It had the universal quality  that you’re arguing for. Same for the Fresh Prince. Even a Family Matters had good longevity and cross-cultural appeal. And I don’t think many blacks would argue any of those shows compromised black sensibilities or values to gain non-black approval. I don’t want name a few shows to make a point or reject yours. Because there’s absolute value in what you’re saying. But I’d almost argue a movie like the Help, which featured prominent black roles, would get much more support from whites than blacks. Because there’s this never-ending struggle to perfect how blackness is shown in media. So I think I’m conceding the need to see blacks like me on screen. Because I see myself, people of all races interact with me. I am black. They see that. That’s all. 

      • mensah demary

        the shows you named were for black people. if white people came for ride, all the better. the shows themselves were in direct opposition to the stereotypes of black people as anything but “regular folk”…stereotypes black people didn’t create, btw.

        anyway, I see your points. I don’t agree with all of them, but I really do appreciate you taking the time to explain yourself without disregarding my points. I hope I haven’t disregarded you at all. this is the kind of discussion I envisioned when I wrote this piece.

      • KarliCo

        I’m a frequent TC reader and more recently, I’ve been enjoying reading the comments (sometimes more than the article!).  Of course they can be constructive, supportive, ridiculous, and sometimes just plain hateful.  But I really, really enjoyed reading your conversation here.  Mensah, this article was very insightful and relevant.  This is something that has been coming up in conversations between my friends and myself a lot lately.  And Robert, I’ve read your articles on TC and have enjoyed them as well.  I just wanted to chime in and say that this exchange was really interesting and respectful and well-argued and a good model for comments in general!  

    • MM

      I agree. I am sick of these people criticizing this show! 

      I am a black (multiracial) female and I love the show! I have seen two episodes already and I really enjoyed it, the dialogue was good, I like the mood and Lena Dunham is definitely awesome at playing Hannah (cause I feel like I am going to be here in a few years). 

      I know that we need more black people on TV and movies. I wish there would be one black girl who is the main lead and isn’t some ghetto girl, and that this show wouldn’t be on BET but on ABC (like Raven Symone on That’s so Raven well Disney but you get it). However, we can’t just keep whining about this show because it seems like it the “voice of our generation” (which I never assumed. I don’t think anybody has even said this). 

      Just chillax. The girls are privileged. So what if there are no girls that look like me on this show? Lena is driving this from experience, and she grew up really wealthy going to a private school and going to Oberlin, you think her experience had black people in it?

      I enjoy the show because it’s an escape. I rather her just have four white girls as friends than have some random token because they wanted “diversity”. I know plenty of girls who just have all white best friends. But we don’t know maybe there will be more color coming in! The show has just started! At least give it half a season! Geez! 

    • Mark

      Fraiser totally had a black antithesis on the show in later seasons by the name of Cam Winston. He was as intelligent and pompous as Fraiser ever was, and he actually one-up him at every chance. He was pretty bad ass.

      I’m a bit of a Fraiser buff, so I felt compelled to point that out.

  • Blackk_mariah

    Awesomely put.  I was offended the moment I saw the poster advertisement for Girls on the subway. As ridiculously diverse as New York is, you would have to be a complete idiot to think such a casting would be sufficient.  If anything, the casting of all white girls period, especially in “post racial America”  should be seen as comedic on one hand and stubbornly dismissive of reality on the other.   Thanks for addressing it.

  • Jonathon Ferrari

    Man, this author is going to be pisssssed off when she finds out that actor playing Abraham Lincoln is white.

    • mensah demary


      • Jonathon Ferrari

        My mistake. I do apologize.

    • JEReich

      Did you even read this article?

      • Jonathon Ferrari

        Actually, no. I’m just trolling.  But I would bet you $100 that there’s mention of the tweet regarding the film “Precious”.

      • mensah demary

        you can PayPal the $100 to me at your earliest convenience.

        or–shocker–you could share your thoughts oh wait you’re an admitted troll, never mind.

      • Jonathon Ferrari

        OK. I read it. You clearly made mention of that tweet.  That being said, it was a very well written entry that made me think about this in a different way so I’ll let you keep the hundo you owe me.

      • mensah demary

        lol you take personal checks?

  •!/ZachAmes macgyver51

    I think lost in the racial argument is the fact that the show really just represents a culture, that exists beyond NYC as well, that is simply and mind bogglingly self centered and self absorbed.  While it appears to be racist, its actually a symptom of the fact that Durham only knows how to write about the people that exist in her little selfish bubble. Because she is a privileged white female, thats what is reflected. Its sad, but there might be more self awareness in an episode of Real Housewives of __________. 

    As counter-productive as it may sound, I don’t think this show is intelligent enough to be accused of anything regarding racism or white- whatever we want to call it these days . Its just really, really, really bad.

    • mensah demary

      nothing in the show is racist. I’ve accused no one of racism. please read again.

      with respect to culture–that is, “Girls” is one depiction of one culture which, by default, may have little to do, if anything at all, with black people–again, you may want to read again.

      •!/ZachAmes macgyver51

         Please read again. That was the point of my comment. You can’t be a self centered & a privileged white female and be racist. You end up just being ignorant of anything but what serves you in a very bland world.

      • Guestropod

        You can’t be a self centered & a privileged white female and be racist.”


      •!/ZachAmes macgyver51

        Sorry, wrote that quickly and see where it could use some tweaking.  You can, although its becoming rarer, but in the characters world its about the irrelevancy of race due to the fact that there is no room for it with thoughts of only themselves and what helps them  being in the way. Simply put, these people are too shallow to be racist.

      • mensah demary

        I see your point. and I tend to agree. which is why i didn’t accuse them of being racist. if anything, I accused them of being stupid and ignorant; still, one can perpetuate a narrative which erases an entire race of people from said narrative without knowing it. I get the sense that such an idea is giving some readers of this essay pause.

  • Homefreys

    I certainly agree with your assessment of the entertainment industry as a whole being whitewashed, but I’m not so sure I agree with your dismissal of the show.  I have only seen trailers/ clips for ‘Girls’ and I must say I thought it looked funny.  There are only 4 main characters (from my understanding) and they are all part of a particular social circle of NYC which is mostly rich and white so I wasn’t particularly surprised or offended by the lack of ethnicities represented.  I don’t think the show is necessarily trying to represent ALL of New York (if so, they certainly failed) but just a small section to which the writer/ director/ star belonged (they say write what you know for a reason).  In one of the clips she even says to her parents, “I think I might be the voice of my generation. Well, at least A voice of A generation”, and think that certainly applies.  The show is giving it’s audience a look at this demographic, as represented by these four girls who exemplify it, and their life, not trying to represent the entire population of NYC and their lives.  

    • Homefreys

      I should add that maybe “Girls” is too general of a name for a show that would perhaps be more aptly named “Rich Overeducated White Girls”. 

      • mensah demary

        the name doesn’t help, that’s for sure.

        Thank you for your comments. You made some valid points; I’ll write more when I have a full keyboard and not a cell phone.

    • mfjonny

      hipsters=mostly white

      • Anonymous

        that’s not true. there are tons of black hipsters, we are forced to call ourselves “blipsters” because of myopic people like you who can’t allow black people to be “hip”

      • Homefreys

        I agree with most of your comments on here (certainly the ones regarding the racist troll commenters!), but I feel like it’s not really necessary to attack someone for stating the fact that there are technically more white hipsters than black hipsters (or asian hipsters or indian hipsters, for that matter). I have met ‘hipsters’ of all of the above mentioned backgrounds and haven’t come across any that feel “forced” to call themselves by any racially specific name like “blipsters” (I’m not creative enough to come up with a name for all of the other minority groups that can be represented by the name ‘hipster’, etc).   Also, the term ‘hipster’ is derived from the counter-culture movements of beatniks and hippies, and it certainly included people of all minorities back then (I’ve never heard of “blippies” or “bleatniks”), which is part of what made it counter-culture (it’s inclusion of minorities and a more open way of thinking was unusual and against the mainstream).

  • Ashley Ford

    Thank you for this.

  • Oliviasantillan

    I read this all the way through, twice. What I have a hard time grasping is why so many things have to be white and black. 2 episodes into the show and you are already blasting the “underlying undertones of whiteness and blackness in America” good lord let her make the show how she wants to! It’s about 4 girls living in NYC! Should I be utterly disgusted by the fact that Lena Dunham didn’t include Hispanics and Asians and Indians because they surely do exist in NYC? NO. I sit back and watch the show for entertainment and stop trying to elicit a response of how misguided and racially unequivocal the universality of whiteness has become!!!!

    • mensah demary

      you’re free to watch the show as you wish…as am I.

  • mfjonny

    Couldn’t agree more about there not being enough black-focused art made by black artists. BUT art usually needs to reflect its creator’s reality in order to feel real, and the truth is that we’re still a very segregated society, even in the melting pot.

    So if Girls is about a white girl, how are black people to be incorporated in a way that feels honest? If you have a homeless guy and a peppering of other unimportant extras, blacks are marginalized. If you make one of ‘the girls’ black, she’s a token and it feels contrived. (Plus then the girls would have to address race, and in our hypersensitive society they would surely be labelled as more racist than they are by whitewashing the show).

    If you have no black characters but the white girls talk about black issues or make racy jokes about black people, blacks are marginalized AND it will be called racist. We’ve come to the point where we’re all so afraid of being perceived as bigots that we ignore the issue altogether.

    ‘Whiteness’ is a product of a lot of things, including racism. But it’s also a product of liberalism’s propensity to throw around the r word when anyone deviates from The Conversation About Race. In this environment, I understand Girls (and broader media’s) decision to whitewash the show (which of course creates a vicious reinforcement cycle where race is never honestly discussed in media.).

    • Anonymous

      I actually think Mad Men is doing something incredible with white privilege and white girls with regards to a more than token or “extra” black character w/r/t Peggy and Dawn, the new secretary. — ie: it can be done.

    • mensah demary

      that fear of being bigots and avoiding the issue is dead on. it is a catch-22–ignore race at the expense of other races, or talk about race which leaves one open for accusations of racism–tough call.

      the larger point, however, isn’t that Girls should necessarily have black people on it. In his article, Ta-nahesi Coates made the excellent point about Friends and the two attempts the show made to add black women to the cast. I’m not talking about more black faces on TV–I’m suggesting that whiteness has the luxury of projecting a race-free world; blackness–or any other race–doesn’t have that privilege. The types of stories that are told, and how they’re perceived by viewers, creates a falsehood that whites don’t have to deal with race in every day life. And if whiteness is the universal narrative, then–well–I guess race is no longer an issue lol

    • McLicious

      You identify the conundrum that I pointed out above, and that many artists/writers/actors/etc of color grapple with. But that’s the problem, that the only depictions are stereotypes or tokens. I think that at least tokens move in the right direction, but I think the point we (we as in the anti-racists, which is a movement that a lot of people here could stand to look up) are making is that the more that show choose ONLY to whitewash (or throw in one obnoxious stereotype), the further we are from realizing a world in the media that can handle multiple portrayals. I’m not saying it’s easy–I frequent tons of writers’ and librarians’ forums and blogs where we talk about “multicultural literature” and how it’s hard to understand the “rules” of writing a story about a person of color that neither makes the entire narrative about that (i.e. Chinese people don’t only exist around Chinese New Year; black smart girls don’t only deal with being the only black girl in their honors algebra class) nor makes the person effectively white (never dealing with the fact that, in this world, your experiences as a PoC are colored by that (no pun intended).

      I digress a bit, but what I’m saying is that the answer to this problem is not to say “but you’re going to hate the portrayal of PoC no matter what they are” and instead think of how that is a problem that demands MORE portrayals of PoC, not fewer.

  • el

    While your views on the media and social politics are quite true,

    I think the whole reason the show exists is to show this minority of over-privileged, self-abosorbed middle class white girls this generation has created.

    I wouldn’t read too deeply into it.

    • mensah demary

      agreed in regards to what the show is about. but deconstructing and analyzing the show is never “reading too much into it.” I mean, it would be if it were post race America, but it’s not, so…


    “We exist — whether HBO adapts our stories or not.” 

    But the greatest television show ever made is about black people: The Wire.

    • mensah demary

      If you think The Wire was “about black people”…LOL, ok.

      • Cujo

         Yeah, black people are very much represented in The Wire.

      • Fdafdadf

        It features black people very heavily but it’s not “about” black people because it’s not a bullshit show about a crack team of all black Howard University law graduates or a team of black med students that cure AIDS in the first episode.

        To be “about” black people it has to paint blacks in a light that is ludicrously disconnected from reality you see. 

      • mensah demary

        I’m just going assume you guys don’t know what you’re talking about and–you know–allow you to paint yourselves as ignorant and blind. ‘kay? kay.

      • Raven

        Do you not actually have an example of what you would consider the archetypal show “about black people” that all other shows should measure themselves by? 

      • ...what?

        You’re all thinking too much, yet also too little.  The wire is not “about” black people. I’ve never seen it but from what i can gather on IMDB, The Wire is actually about drug-dealers and law enforcement in the inner city….. it also has a predominantly black cast which I did not need IMDB to assume.   It’s not about black people.  I cant think of any shows that are actually meant to portray “what black people are really like,” and I’m glad I can’t because that’s an ignorant idea.  
        The innumerable personalities, experiences, and appearance of black people (just like those of white people!) could not be contained to one show because it would just be a clusterfuck and it no one would know what it was about because some parts wouldnt even relate there would be a million different stories to tell ……. duh guys. use your noodle. 

      • mfjonny

        I haven’t watched it very much so I could be way off, but Boondocks seems like it portrays the reality of a plurality of black people in America (urban, lower class, single-parent household) and does it in a way that feels genuine, never underhanded, and tackles real issues in black culture.

      • mfjonny

        It’s not a show about a considerable sub-group of black people in urban America? Is it any less about black people than, say, Fresh Prince? What are some shows “about black people” (asking earnestly)?

  • Fdafdadf

    Girls is a terrible terrible cancerous show, why the hell would you care about it lacking black people?

    Blacks make up 15% or so of the population and are much poorer on average than white people. HBO isn’t free. HBO caters to people that watch HBO. 
    Treme exists. It’s a show about blacks in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, which is like the blackest theme for a show you can possibly imagine. 

    The Wire exists. It’s a show that heavily features blacks doing normal black things, like crime.

    • mensah demary

      I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish, but I just want to say this is the most racist comment I’ve seen all day.

      *kanye shrug*

      • Fdafdadf

        Did weawity huwt youw poow wittle feewings?

      • H1045921

        that guy’s comment was pretty hilariously racist, but he does have a point
        not necessarily about the rest of your article, but david simon has created two of the best shows tv has seen that properly integrate black characters in a compelling, nuanced, and realistic manner, across all levels of society.
        i’m suspecting that you haven’t actually seen them and are just dismissing the fact that HBO has produced two fantastic shows that do everything you could hope for in terms of addressing a multi-ethnic america because the guy who brought it up was a troll

      • Itreallydoes

        truth hurts

  • dnwilliams

    The Wire and Treme and How To Make It In America aired on HBO, didn’t they? So why accuse the network of failing to include people of color? Anyway…I’m not enjoying this show so far, but for reasons other than its supposedly blinkered worldview – it just doesn’t seem like a very good show. I like plenty of shows that focus on what you refer to here as whiteness and a do not see a problem with making shows like this one so long as they’re entertaining. I fail to understand why people are reacting to this as if LD came out of the gate with a damn manifesto about how her who was out to represent something other than privileged, whiny white chicks and failed. She didn’t and hasn’t. And why is a show about four white girls inherently bad? I don’t see why people would advocate tokenism this way, I’d find it patronizing if one of these girls was black just because. The reality is that these characters are supposed to have been schooled together and not every group of friends, especially graduates, is going to be a multicultural group…
    And why is the onus on this show in particular to reflect society, it’s representing a small group that exists and has as much right to be portrayed as any other. Not that it hasn’t been done before, and much, much better than this.

    • mensah demary

      from the very beginning of your comment to the very end, it’s clear you missed something in my essay. nothing about this essay advocates tokenism–the lynchpin of your comment– at all.

      • dnwilliams

        I don’t feel as though I missed anything in your essay at all, but feel free to point out what you think that thing might be. I’m simply making a comment based upon my own personal reaction to the show and that of others, inclusive of yours. Am I to understand, despite what you’ve written, that you do not wish to see the cast diversified for diversity’s sake? Or do you perhaps have a different definition of tokenism than I do?

    • mfjonny

      Wow lots of hate for this show even aside from the topic of race. I think it’s fantastic; smart, hilarious, highly relatable and an authentic depiction of upper middle class post-grads. Sure, there are tons of shows that cater to this demo, but a well-made show is a well-made show, regardless of race, gender, age, etc.

      • dnwilliams

        I don’t hate the show, I just haven’t been impressed by it thus far. I’m not finding it all that funny or smart, or so well-made that I would go out of my way to point out that it’s well made. I agree with the rest of what you said though.

      • annie

        And it is a shame it wasn’t named in order to reflect that.

  • Cujo

    If there was a show about four black girls, and I complained about a lack of white people,  I would be called racist.

    • mensah demary

      yes. and accurately so. that you can’t see why is part of the problem.

      • Cujo

         But then isn’t there a double standard? Could I say that Tyler Perry’s House of Payne needs to have more diversity?

      • mensah demary

        no it’s not a double standard, but you’ll probably say it is because you can’t see why it wouldn’t be a double standard. this feels like a stalemate.

      • Lightningboltawseomeballs

         please enlighten me to how it is not a double standard.

      • gregory q.t niggerspeare


      • mensah demary

        Why? So we can argue back and forth? It’s fine…you think it’s a double standard, I know it’s not; the status quo with respect to race remains in tact.

      • Anonymous

        it’s not a double standard, at all, because there are hardly any media representation of black people (minorities) whereas whiteness is pervasive. this show is attempting to bring diversity to a society that marginalizes minorities and only brings us out as stock characters. with that being said, i don’t like tyler perry but it is not a double standard for him, it’s actually him making a breakthrough from the status quo

      • annie


      • Fdafdadf

        Jesus H. Christ how does this double standard laden horse shit pass for black intellectualism these days? Jews have been oppressed more than any other group in history and for longer than any other group in history. Yet they are successful. Because they bust their asses, have a culture that emphasizes education and success and an intellectual class that focuses on productive things- cutting edge research, rising to the top in the business world, rising to the top in the entertainment industry etc.
        Blacks on the other hand have a culture that emphasizes gang violence and drug abuse, tolerates and glorifies single motherhood and is completely fine with dependency (government or otherwise). Then the intellectual class, instead of focusing on research and all of that productive stuff, spends an absurd amount of time (to an extent you see with no other self identified racial or ethnic group) talking about racial issues, writings things like:

        “Precious Jones did not end up poor and in the projects on a whim, but rather through institutionalized racism and discrimination.”

        with a straight fucking face. Yeah it was DEM WHITE PEOPLE providing 95%+ of the taxpayer funding which keeps afloat the governmental institutions that keep her from starving to death that are at fault, not her shithead father that raped her. Makes sense.

      • Anonymous

        you’re a cunt.

        jewish people were successful because they assimilated because of their skin tone, just like the irish. as a black person, i can’t “assimilate” into whiteness.

      • gregory q.t niggerspeare

         in the american sout it was better to be a negro , than an irish or italian person.  irish and italian immigrants would only be allowed to work as “upstairs maids”, who were not allowed to answer the door or serve company. these more visible and higher paying tasks were reserved for someone more presentable, namely negro women.

      • Anonymous

        troll person commenting is trolling.

      • gregory q.t niggerspeare

        that’s actually a true fact, it sad that blacks need to have a monopoly on being oppressed, in addition to the monopoly on crime and unemployment.

    • Cd

      I knew this comment was coming eventually. It always does.

  • Adolf Saxon

    Jews being a race is a myth. It’s a cultural meme that spread across
    Europe 2000 years ago and was adopted by white people. Before that they
    were a small and largely insignificant blip in Canaanite culture, just a
    small tribe of Near Eastern people. But they’ve never been a race, just
    a culture spread out across a bunch of different races.

    • Alfred Rosenberg

      Why did all Jews need to wear the Judenstern in Nazi Germany? Because
      many of them were indistinguishable from every other German.

      • Hezekiah F.

         Truly the greatest farce in recent history is this notion that negroids have a past even remotely as embattled and filled with misery as that of the Jews.

      • Alfred Rosenberg

         While I am loathe to come to the defense of Jewry in any form, I will concur that I’ve seen an astounding rise in negro privilege of late.

  • iCarly

    The show has only aired half its season, give them a little breathing room. I’m sure they’ll do an episode about the impropriety of Claire Danes bringing a black panther to a wine tasting and causing all sorts of awk-hawk shenanigans for the plutocratic liberal crowd before they’re done airing. 

  • august

    Ashkenazim aren’t white. White people are Non-Jewish people of wholly European descent. No exceptions.

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