HBO’s comedy drama series Girls creator, writer, actress Lena Dunham and her random nakedness sparked a controversy that has stirred up questions about what is too much when it comes to graphic sexual content for the HBO audience, who pays for their viewing experience.
The series kicked off in 2012 and has just renewed a contract for their fourth season. Lena Dunham portrays nakedness in many of her scenes, and was recently questioned about it by a male journalist at a Television Critic Associations Panel. Lena seemed unruffled, and took it in stride and answered back that “It’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive.” Producer Judd Apatow, and Executive Producer Jenni Konner responded to the question defensively. Konner’s reply, “This idea that you would accuse a woman of showing her body too much . . . just makes me sort of sick.” That response gives insight as to of why the show embraces nudity, and raw openness.
Dunham and the crew are no stranger to being attacked for letting it all hang out. As a writer, she weaves random nakedness in as making it all seem more real. Perhaps her true life OCD tendencies have colored her inclination to write it in over and over again. A recent episode shows her character Hannah with her therapist, discussing her writing and the possibility of getting published. Her comment spoke volumes as she shared an epiphany that she can only be limited by her mind. That explains the lack of any boundaries in the lives of her characters.
The characters are written to be brutally honest, and there was one particular controversial episode that many viewers tweeted and commented on. They felt violated from the scene in question and felt it could have been done more tastefully. The nasty sex scene was with Adam (Adam Driver) and Natalia (Shiri Appleby). After Adam requested Natalia (Shiri Appleby) to crawl to the bedroom, and then standing over her, when she was on the bed, he in his drunken state had an orgasmic moment – which could have been more tastefully portrayed. Instead the scene culminated with Adam depositing a semen pool on Natalia’s chest. HBO has been known to push the envelope in the past, and have content that brings viewers out of their comfort zone.
Set in NYC , Girls is a candid portrayal of four friends in their twenties, who having finished college are full of hope, but suffer career setbacks, complicated love relationships, and seem to be still in the identity formation stage. The four are not seen by the public as representing true New Yorker’s who are known to be about the business of the day, in comparison to the characters of Girls whom seem to be shiftless, and their lives weaved together by randomness.
As a writer of the show, Dunham draws on her own life as she was born in NYC, but grew up in Manhattan in the SoHo district. She originally had designs on being a poet, but ended up turning out short stories, plays and films. Perhaps Dunham’s dark and twisted scenarios are influenced by her father Carroll Dunham’s abstract, playful, erotic paintings which are full of phallic symbols. One wonders if as a child, Lena Dunham was or was not the center of attention of her mother Laurie Simmons’s photography.
If the saying,”one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure,” is true – then in the case of Lena Dunham, her nakedness being questioned, and her raw sexual content; it might be concluded that one person’s pain, is another person’s pleasure.
By Marianne Hernandez