Human Rights Campaign's 2017 Los Angeles Gala Dinner - Arrivals

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When HBO first announced Girls, I felt as if we were finally going to get a feminist version of Queer as Folk — raw, real, fairly representational, diverse and controversial.

Instead, we got another set of four white women in New York with boy problems, only less Manolo Blahnik and more millennial angst. And by angst I mean: “I’m so angry the privileged life I know and love is coming to an end since my parents are cutting me off and now I’m going to have to get a REAL job instead of interning.”

Critics called it “radical” television.

And therein lies the problem that has followed Girls from world premiere to series finale. When a “radical” feminist show is billed to be “the voice of our generation”—but shows up to the party with an all white cast, with all white problems, with all white privilegethat is never once checked either by the characters or the individuals who play them (much less the writer, director, and lead actor herself, Lena Dunham)—there’s going to be some backlash. But, of course, not from other white feminists or white mainstream media.

If Dunham was really interested in exploring and exposing the social landscape of millennial experiences, she would have (and could have) added in some of the real anger our generation is feeling—and not in a Pepsi/Kendall Jenner kind of way—but in a way that actually challenges the status quo. Instead, she decided to go with what her feminism was comfortable with: controversy for the sake of staying relevant, just enough to appear important, but not so much as to actually challenge the Nielsen norms.

In that way, she’s more Kardashian than Gloria Steinem.

She attempted to address the issues of race in Girls by casting Donald Glover as Hannah’s new boyfriend in season two, but failed miserably because she didn’t understand you can never fix a diversity problem by throwing in a token. Because we don’t want blanket tokenized representation; we want curated storylines that help us believe that our lives and experiences matter—and are Oscar and Emmy-worthy, too (thank you, Moonlight).

After binge-watching the first two seasons, I (voluntarily) sought out all things Dunham. I found Tiny Furniture on Netflix and watched it (more of the same), bought Not That Kind of Girl and read it (not nearly as good as I wanted it to be and everyone claimed it was). Still, I was a fan. A fan because I really honestly believed there was no possible way a modern feminist would NOT be inclusive of our marginalized and oppressed experiences.

Lena Dunham was never radical; she was more of the same. Unchecked privilege. Gay male tropes. Romanticizing other cultures. Lack of diversity.

But I was wrong. Dunham was never radical; she was more of the same. Unchecked privilege. Gay male tropes. Romanticizing other cultures. Lack of diversity. Tokenism of color and queerness. You know, the same old white feminist shit: different (entitled) nepotistic woman being touted as being representational of a whole.

 

Dunham held something most people in Hollywood, let alone a woman in the biz, never have the opportunity to hold: power. Absolute, unfettered free rein to create and cast a show that had so much potential to raise real questions about who the millennial generation is and isn’t, what makes us tick, and what really matters to us. But in her defense, maybe that’s a little more “real” than Dunham allows or wants her feminism to get.

Or maybe she’s really not all that great of a writer and creative after all. Maybe she refused to write anything that doesn’t exist in her diary because…she can’t?

I’m not sure what the last and final episode of Girls holds that’s any different from what we’ve already seen. And this entire last season, has been more Twilight—complete with ad nauseam single white female pregnancy scare—than True Blood.

So I’m left asking the same question I’ve been asking myself for the past five years the show has been on: Why did I still watch?

I’m not sure I have any real or definitive answers . . . maybe because it’s human nature to not look away from a train wreck. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing better on TV. Or maybe it was because I was hopeful.

Or maybe she’s really not all that great of a writer and creative after all. Maybe she refused to write anything that doesn’t exist in her diary because…she can’t?

Hopeful that Dunham was going to prove me wrong. Hopeful that she would have checked her white and class privilege as both Hannah Horvath and writer Lena Dunham. Hopeful that maybe in the last season she could somehow turn it all around, make me a believer and a fan again.

But she didn’t.

And instead of being the voice of a revolution, the radical we all needed, and the feminist who began the bridging of gaps with showing the world what inclusivity, acceptance, and diversity looks like, she gave us another mashup of Friends and Sex in the City.

But I’m Not That Kind of Girl who will politely hang on the coattails of white feminism—and we aren’t that kind of generation that will hesitate to call it out.

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