One day after the premiere of Season 2 of HBO’s sitcom GIRLS; the show’s writer, director and star Lena Dunham was awarded the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy. We can now commence with the screaming and the rending of cloth and the gnashing of teeth. Dunham has, in such a short period of time, achieved so much success and so much acclaim in Hollywood that it makes you wonder if there’s some sort of weird otherworldly contract playing itself out for all of us to watch. For the most part, her Golden Globe was not met with any real annoyance or derision despite the huge furor over her show last season. However, after watching the first few episodes of GIRLS this season, I must admit, Dunham should be politely, then forcefully asked to hand that Golden Globe back. It’s not just that she didn’t deserve it, she certainly didn’t deserve it yet.
I wrote last season about the major complaints about HBO’s GIRLS and how they reflected larger problems and ignored basic ones. In the larger context, the criticism of GIRLS on the cultural front boiled down to the grotesque “hipster racism” wherein hip urban white kids spout racist drivel under the guise of being ‘ironic’ (Computer Smart Asians, Slutty Latinas and an extended conversation about how Hannah’s boyfriend’s ejaculate looked like the continent of Africa were all elements of season one). On a deeper level women of color and white women of conscience fumed about the idea that an entitled, connected and questionably talented white girl like Lena Dunham got fast-tracked to a show about self-absorbed rich white girls on HBO. When there is no way that a similar type of program about black or minority women would ever see the light of day, that quickly on that large a stage. And then there were folks like me who just pointed out that the show wasn’t very funny, or dramatic or good. The reason I mention all of these past controversies is because in one season premiere these issues were addressed in a shockingly direct and sincere manner.
Episode 1 of Season 2 of GIRLS not only featured Donald Glover as the new boyfriend of Lena Dunham, but a shockingly more realistic array of minority characters in the background, throughout the city, parties and even at the main character’s jobs. The jump in diversity from season 1 to season 2 is like moving from USA Basketball in the 60’s to the 2012 Olympic team. However that wasn’t the only change that is noticeable after just the first few episodes. The writing has jumped leaps and bounds. I found myself laughing out loud several times this season something that never happened last year. The dialogue between the characters seems much more realistic and organic while the main cast all became more fleshed out as characters and not archetypes. A smattering of profanity, life experience, The Secret, and some Dr. Phil can pretty much encapsulate the typical dialogue of many many young women in the millennial hipster set (trust me, I deal with college kids all the time). My point is the show seems to have taken much of the criticism from last year, and to the credit of Lena Dunham she appears, thus far, to have actually done something about it. Better writing, better acting, and better diversity from jump. Which brings me back to the Golden Globe award to Dunham for best comedy actress; season two’s premiere shows she didn’t deserve it.