Skip to content blog

Things I'm working on and thinking about

Now that I no longer have to deal with the television industry for my job, I don’t follow the news from TCA all that closely. TCA is basically a junket. After years of doing TV panels, I’m over the format and it’s particularly overdone for television. Drag out the usual suspects, sit them in a row, and ask the same questions again and again. Season after season, this is how it goes. It’s pretty rare for something novel to come out of a panel event, although I understand that when a network rolls out a new series, this is the most efficient way to get the celebs in front of as many TV writers (not necessarily “critics” as possible).

Yesterday, there was some “controversy” during the Girls panel. Why HBO is still bothering with a Girls panel, I don’t know. Probably so that something like this would happen and we’d all talk about Girls for a few more minutes, so well-played, HBO PR.

So I’m kind of annoyed to even be writing this, but I had a lot of things on my mind last night as various debates unfolded on Twitter. I wanted to rant a bit, but instead I sat with my thoughts for awhile and now I’ll just tap them out here.

I’m not a regular viewer of Girls, although I’ll catch it from time to time. I’m not coming at this from any particular position, other than that of a woman just a few years older than Lena Dunham.

What is so baffling about Lena Dunham’s body? What is so confusing about any performer choosing to be naked sometimes?

So, the thing that gets trotted out a lot is size. It must be some kind of “groundbreaking,” political act to show a body that isn’t size zero. Why do we assume Lena Dunham sees her own body that way? Maybe it’s just, ya know, HER body. Maybe she’d be naked the same amount if she were thinner or heavier. Seems like anytime a non-model girl takes off some clothing, she’s called “brave.” Is that because she’s doing something that’s not “normal” to the TV viewer? When can that just be normal?

The real question here seems to be “why are you annoying us with/subjecting us to your body?” It’s like the critic is maybe expecting an answer like “I’m doing it to get under your skin, Tim!” Then, Tim can feel justified in the idea that he’s bothered by looking at Lena Dunham’s nudity.

I’m reading between the lines here, yes. But why would a journalist ask a question like that YEARS after it’s been asked and answered many times? He said “I don’t get it.” He apparently wasn’t satisfied with several years worth of rhetoric on the subject. He wanted a different answer.

It’s telling that the critic compared the nudity on Girls to Game of Thrones (apparently justified because it’s “salacious”). So, GoT is now the yardstick by which he’s sizing up naked people on screen. He’s using a funhouse mirror.

Here’s my answer: I don’t think Lena Dunham being naked is radical. ┬áIt’s really crazy to me that a nudity from a performer (and the person literally calling the shots) playing a character in the “real world” is more baffling to a TV writer than the nudity on Game of Thrones. Is he more comfortable with nudity by nubile actresses playing sex workers/slaves in a fantasy world? Does he feel more comfortable because that world was created by a man and interpreted by a group of men and is “salacious” by design?

What if Lena Dunham looked the writer in the eye and said “I get naked on screen to be salacious, too”? Would he “get it” then? Or would he decide that her nudity couldn’t be salacious because it’s done in the “real world” in everyday situations by a person with a normal body?

The fact that there are still journalists fretting (yes, the way he asked the question indicated that he has an issue with it) over this, three seasons in, is ridiculous. Nudity is not that big of a deal. It’s a woman’s body and she decided to show it. If you’re not satisfied by Lena Dunham’s answers after all this time, chances are, she’s not going to bust out with rationale that will make it all better for you.