Did Any of the Controversy Over “Girls” Influence the Show?


The most concrete example of influence on the show has to do with the criticism over race. As mentioned, race was one of the first subjects raised with Girls, and even though the show had plenty of defenders (many of whom felt that the show was being unfairly singled out), Dunham conceded that she was very sensitive about that point. She told NPR, “I wrote the first season primarily by myself, and I co-wrote a few episodes. But I am a half-Jew, half-WASP, and I wrote two Jews and two WASPs. Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting. If I had one of the four girls, if, for example, she was African-American, I feel like — not that the experience of an African-American girl and a white girl are drastically different, but there has to be specificity to that experience [that] I wasn’t able to speak to. I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, ‘I hear this and I want to respond to it.’ And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can’t speak to accurately.” As a result of the criticism, she wrote in minorities into the show, developing them around her concerns and consciously trying to avoid stereotypes associated with particular ethnicities.