HBO 'Girls' Season Finale: Lena Dunham's 'Girls' Has Yet to Deal With Its Racial Issues


The characters were colorful, the relationships were dysfunctional, and the sex was incredibly unsexy. After a shaky start HBO’s Girls soon found its way into our hearts as one of the sitcoms to define a generation, but not be the definitive voice. As Hannah put it in the show’s pilot “I think I may be the voice of my generation ... or at least a voice of a generation”.

Following the show’s pilot there has been much unfair criticism of it for being “too white” and not having enough ethnically diverse characters. My first post on Girls at the time of the show’s pilot was a response to criticism that the show was “too white” and that there was a lack of diversity on the show; and it is true. There aren't enough racial diversity on the show, or any significant characters of an ethnic background that isn’t Caucasian.

That article was written at the time of the show’s pilot and I still stand by that first article. I still believe that Girls is relatable as a show because many of the experiences are drawn from what happens to girls in their early twenties, irrespective of race.

That said some ethnic minority characters were introduced including the Asian gynaecologist at the STD clinic (pushy-Asian parents telling their kids to become doctors?), the staff member at Hannah’s workplace (the black and Hispanic women with attitude?), then there was the mini enclave of mothers at the park which had one black woman and one Asian (token stay-at-home moms?). There was also a reference to an artist sleeping with an Asian girl (to get pregnant and get a Green card?). Again I think it’s fair to say the fact that these characters were minorities is purely arbitrary as opposed to intentional.

There’s no denying that Girls is a brilliantly crafted show with its balance of raw comedy and sentimentality. As to whether or not it is the show that defines the generation has yet to be seen, but the blogosphere’s response certainly has been that Girls does reflect some of the triumphs and tribulations (mainly tribulations) of being a twenty-something today.

The movie Bridesmaids drew attention to a gap in the market for female driven comedies that were less sexy and more embarrassing, and Girls could certainly be considered an offspring of that. Even if it doesn’t become “the definitive voice of the generation” it has crafted a spot for itself as a show that people will remember and go back to. It has definitely set the bar.

Numbers-wise the show attracted a modest number of viewers (gross audience to date was recorded at 3.8 million viewers) and it has been renewed for a second series. It will be interesting to see where the characters go in season two.  Crystal Bell from the Huffington Post called the season finale “messy”, and it was a little bit messy.

I think the misconception of some viewers was that Girls would tidy things up in the season finale, but everyone should know that in real life things rarely ever tie up nicely when you’re in your early twenties.

Lena Dunham has said in interviews about season two that she will address issues in the new season that she may have missed in the first season, but it would unwise on her part to throw in ethnic minority characters for the sake of addressing these issues. Either way it will be interesting to see what Lena Dunham has in store for season two.