This article from the Huffington Post was published back in May, but since the second season of HBO’s “Girls” isn’t close to airing, an opinion in August is as valid as it was two months ago.
I’ve had this conversation many times, involving many different shows and movies, and in fact–as the Post article states–the accusations of an overly white cast on “Girls” began before the first episode aired, so I’ve thought about it in this specific context already.
“Girls” is exactly what you’d imagine it to be: girls living in New York, hip writers and fashionistas talking about boys, indie movie references, quirky one-liners ready to hit tumblr in a flurry of reblogs. But for all the cliche/super-indie aspects, “Girls” is actually very funny, and a fairly clever look at the lives of young people today. To be clear: I watched the first episode and was hooked, and while Dunham’s self-obsession became a little too much to handle at times, I watched the whole first season and enjoyed it.
The biggest criticism of the show, outside of adults not understanding why a girl whining about how hard it is to get a job but not really trying that hard to get a job is a TV show, was the casting. “White-washed” was a phrase used to describe it.
Enter Donald Glover. While my feelings about “Girls” might be mixed, I’m a full-on Glover fan. “30 Rock” is brilliant, “Community” is a revelation, and Childish Gambino has some dope-ass tracks.
My issue isn’t with the casting of Glover, but perhaps the reasoning behind it? Dunham is quoted as saying she wanted to avoid “tokenism” while casting, and with Glover’s spot on the show being described as a “guest starring role,” it seems that’s exactly what she’s done.
Again, nothing wrong with the casting, there are plenty of black dudes in New York and its a bit odd none of them had any speaking lines during season one, but it seems Dunham heard the criticism, said “Hey, I need a black guy in this show, at least for an episode,” and called Donald.
That’s sensitive America for you, demanding something be changed even though it’s our reality: the four main cast members of “Girls” and their four male-counterparts are all white, and guess what? That’s life. This is likely what Dunham grew up with because, guess what, it’s what we all grew up with! Almost 90% of the country is white.
What it really boils down to is jobs. Dunham didn’t hire any black actors to be on her show, and now she’s trying to remedy that. That’s good. It has nothing to do with the story. Stories shouldn’t change to please outside criticism. It would be so much sweeter if the title of that Post article was “Girls Gets Donald Glover,” and the whole “To Pacify Racism” bit was unneeded. But it is needed. Those who sounded the alarm last season will keep a wary eye on the race tally for season two. Hopefully they’ll still be able to enjoy the jokes, the raunchy sex, and tender/introspective moments….oh wait! There’s no Asians either! Or Eskimos! Someone call Lucy Liu!