Lena Dunham Breaks Down Artistic Barriers Without Veneer


Lena Dunham is not afraid to show herself in front of the camera, a fact for which there is plenty of proof. Dunham’s brainchild, the sensational HBO series, Girls, is currently airing in its third season. Undoubtedly, there has been a copious amount of free-wheeling bosom-showing, but in this case, it is legit. When one is to blossom as a 20-something woman, and also as an artist, empowerment through the freedom of expression ultimately leads to genuine creative self-discovery. Maybe the subtle inclusion of a little naked flesh is necessary. Without it, what exactly should the show stand for?

Throughout the originally dramatic first season, Dunham’s character, Hannah, is just beginning her life as a writer. She is hindered by her own potential and barricaded by her nincompoop parents. Being slowly terminated from her financial dependency, Dunham’s character is frustrated at her prospects. Get a job or write a blog is dear mommy’s inevitable advice. Hannah grunts and groans. She pouts. She starts an intimate relationship with a gay sociopath in revolt of wearing a shirt in order to redeem her better qualities.

Celebrating the return of Hannah’s friend, Jessa, there is a dinner party hosted by the introductory snob, Marnie.  Hannah, although impunctual and with aplomb to her rising adversity, adventurously imbibes a bit of opium which has been distastefully rendered in a coffee cup.

Suddenly, and with a little help from her friends, Hannah is discovering her true role in life. Her parents, however, are soon to be nonplussed. After heaving, she urgently takes to voicing her drug-fueled clarity to her visiting parents in their fancy hotel room. She is denied her unearthed dreams – another midwestern girl left to fend for herself in the gigantic, insensitive, and full of worms Big Apple.  With her parents gone in the morning, Hannah snakes the tip for the hotel maids from atop a dresser. She then skips off into the city like nothing can hurt her except for her own inaction.

Thus the show takes off…. That Dunham created Girls in order to exhibit her own artistic talents begins to supersede her written undressing of Hannah’s lack of remorse. Any observances with which she undertakes to spotlight the unforeseen challenges of trying to be a 20-something writer in the over-abundantly crowded city of New York take precedent as the central theme.

After the togetherness, there is the inevitable division amongst roommates and friends, including stilted and stalled jobs, relationships growing hot and cold, and cumulative treachery sprouting malice and ill-will. Lots of sex, as savior or send-off. Hannah routinely becomes involved with herself. Eventually, this breadth of narcissism is shoveled into her face. She is the cheeky, unabashed writer without a gilt of circumspection vital to discovering and fixing her own flaws. If she is ennobling to her audience, Hannah hardly feels required to express her guilt and uncertainty.

Girls, then, becomes the most modern televised expression of what it is like to disrobe and reveal what lies beneath the platitudes and complexities of an on-edge, post-graduate trapped in her own skin. What renders Dunham and her authentic vision as an entertaining depiction of reality to her exuberant array of viewers and fans is her skillful technique to shock and stupefy. This is really how it is; this is really what it feels like. What is likeable isn’t always pleasant, but if it is honest, then the writing and acting stands on its own. Naked and free.

Opinion by Bryan William Myers


Long Island Press

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