Some thoughts on HBO’s Girls and race: a gchat.
Seems everybody’s talkin’ these days about Girls, the new show from HBO about 20-somethings in New York. Well, my friend Chris and I have been talking too. This chat below is an exchange of our thoughts on Girls and race, an issue that’s been getting a lot of press. Our thoughts aren’t terribly eloquent, and they need some development, but they’re a good start.
Chris: Have you seen the show Girls?
if it’s about our generation of young women and it’s on tv, i’ve seen it
Chris: Well the next question is; do you see it as being “whitewashed” and do you have a problem with it, as a woman of color.
me: Oh good question
Yeah it’s like, why are they all white women in that show
Chris: There’s a lot of hullabaloo about it on the blogs
In reality only one of your roommates is white
me: Yeah that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking
Like, I know there are all these shows that have an all-white cast of people who are friends
and we never think anything of it
or at least, the creators never seem to think anything of it
and in reality, when I hang out with a group of friends, we’re usually not all white
and people are billing this as the voice of a generation
me: but it’s more than that that
why can’t all “mainstream” all-white cast shows have a few more non-white people
without making it about the show just about race
it’s about being represented
it makes minorities seem like an anomaly
it doesn’t give acting jobs to minorities
Chris: Yup. I’ve watched both episodes and there’s nothing. Maybe it’s something they’ll bring in when it keeps going
I don’t think so
It’s not like Mad Men where they develop political/racial tensions going on in history as the show progresses
Be right right back
Did you read the link? [Read it; it’s an article about how actors from The Wire are now having trouble finding acting jobs because there are such few roles for minorities]
Chris: Some of it.
Gimme a sec
wow. That stinks
Because roles for people of color don’t even exist
Chris: I feel like it’s getting worse and worse. I remember the shows I watched on Nickelodeon had more.
brb, try and read these articles: A Girls Writer’s Ironic Racism from Gawker
me: okay, I’m reading the gawker one
It’s good, and this Lesley Arfin character is a bit cray cray
So many truths in this article
“ironic racism,” truth
“That Dunham calls the show’s whiteness a ‘complete accident’ is telling.”
Double consciousness. Boy does it become real when you watch TV
me: What do you mean by that?
Chris: The fact that if you and I created a show that dealt with people around us. Different characters would be different races, all due to the fact that as non-whites, we live in two realities. While Dunham only lives one, so her experiences can only be cast in the shade of white.
me: I like this comment
It’s totally true
But if Lena Dunham made her show with me as one of her friends, it’s not like my story line would always be around my race and multiple identities
Like, my story line in relation to her and that group of friends would be about the same stuff
But we’d have a person of color represented on the show, which means a lot more to us than it does for a white person to be represented on a show
Chris: Yup. But honestly if I was writing a show about my life experiences, you’d def be “Rican” only because some of your funny stories revolve around you having a Puerto Rican family. So it really wouldn’t be a big stretch for me to make your character rican.
They just didn’t really care that much about it.
me: but it’s like—I can be hispanic on dunham’s show, not make my whole story like about my race, and still mention my random funny Ricanisms once in a while
kind of like how one of the characters is British
It’s not like everything revolves around her being British, but her Britishness is visible
Chris: Yeah that’s what I mean.
me: When reading the Gawker article, esp. the invisibility part, it made me think of tokenism. Maybe it’s the opposite end of a spectrum, invisibility on one, tokenism on the other
It almost seems like writers are afraid of doing that to characters, making them token
And therefore just ignore them altogether
Chris: We should just write our own show D
me: yeah we should
It would be about our lives, and it would be awesome, because we’re awesome