Posts tagged "television"

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?  

‪me: yes


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

‪Chris: exactly

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

See this:

‪Chris: Yup. I’ve watched both episodes and there’s nothing. Maybe it’s something they’ll bring in when it keeps going

‪me: well  

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

‪Chris: word

‪me: 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 

‪me: ok

wow. That stinks

‪me: right?

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

HBO Girls White Guilt from Thought Catalog

‪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."


Chris: Back.  

Isn’t it!

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

whitney, but not the kind I like.

Hey y’all, it seems that my demographic is the newest TV trend for the fall 2011 season. Premiering within the next fortnight is a sudden rash of sitcoms about hip, single* women trying to make it in the big city.


On September 19, you can tune into 2 Broke Girls on CBS, in which a sassy girl from working-class means and a formerly Old Money prima donna form an unlikely friendship through their waitressing job in Brooklyn (of all locations! Imagine that).  The very next day, Zooey Deschanel will presumably charm the pants off of America as New Girl’s Jess, a.k.a. the awkward/hot character from all her other projects, who has to adjust to living with three boy roommates after being dumped by her model boyfriend. Ahh, more unlikely friendships! And finally, September 22 introduces us to Whitney,** a funny and opinionated woman who lives (in sin) with her long-term boyfriend.

 Upon first hearing about it, I had high hopes for Whitney; after all, it shares with the name of BOTH my favorite museum and my favorite slow jam-singin’, rehab-attendin’ celebrity. The minute I saw a poster for the show (which was probably .7 seconds later, as they are plastered all over Manhattan), my opinion quickly plummeted. I was excited that women will have a bigger presence on primetime television, and even more excited that these shows are geared towards a mixed-gendered audience. But if marketing is an indication of a show’s content, Whitney will be doing a disservice to women like me. We’re back to Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: women are “emotional ninjas” and it’s best if men just tolerate their hysterical mood swings with a knowing smile. The worst part is that NBC presents the main character as a smart, modern woman, as if that excuses supporting a trite and backwards view of relationships between men and women.

I want to be wrong. I hope Whitney will be more than a show that continues to stereotype women as emotionally volatile. Television is sorely lacking in strong, sassy, earnest women leads (I miss you, Betty Suarez!), so let’s do it right, okay?

*Single-ish; the premise of Whitney is that the eponymous protagonist is in a long-term, committed relationship but cringes at the thought of marriage

**Played by Whitney Cummings, who also co-created 2 Broke Girls

Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.