So here’s the thing, I’ve got no problems with Girls uber-white-hipster enclave reality; I have no problems with Black men dating White women. I do have an issue with attempting to solve a “lack of diversity” issue by creating an interracial relationships on a show where race is all but absent and never addressed, and then, not even bothering to address the interracial nature of the relationship once it is introduced. Why? Because it’s bullshit.
There’s no way this girl Hannah (who explicitly shares everything with her girlfriends), isn’t going to divulge to her girlfriends that she’s dating a Black guy. There’s also no way those girls aren’t going to follow up with off-humored questions about his penis size and other uninformed musings about Blackness. That Girls is rooted in oddly blunt pop-culturally situated humor makes the the topic of interracial dating great fodder for Dunham, and yet she has done nothing with it.
And not to be dramatic, but the “we can’t tell my ex-boyfriend I’m dating you because he’s hurting stick,” screams “I don’t want to tell anybody I’m dating the Black guy” to any viewer who watches the show with any type of cultural lens. But of course, today’s post-racial viewer doesn’t see race so perhaps I’m just over thinking it–though I highly doubt that.
I love seeing diverse casts on television, and it’s clear the Shonda Rhimes mixed-race, high intensity character model appeals to mass audiences, but still, it feels like there’s a huge opportunity being missed in the area of post-racial television writing. While American viewers have finally become comfortable with viewing interracial love scenes and friendships, having racial dialogue still carries the same uneasy taboo. If we don’t take the opportunity to create dialogue about race we aren’t learning from one another. And then Trayvon Martin gets shot and all that post-racial Kum Ba Ya singing goes to hell.
I could be jumping the gun, perhaps in episodes to come Ms. Dunham will incorporate some honest dialogue and humor that brings her relationship with Glover in to some context, but I fear his race will never be addressed, and that not by not doing so, Dunham will be heralded as a progressive by embracing the “we don’t see race” idiom. The thing is, we do see race–everyday.
On Sunday on HBO, I saw a White girl dating a Black guy who never interacted or met her friends, was not invited to her house party and was essentially kept a secret. As I watched I explored all the ways this read “stereotypical Black male as sexual object and guilty fantasy of a White woman.” And this is where the true lack of diversity in Hollywood rears its ugly head, there was likely no Black person involved in the writing process of Girls to point this out. Here’s hoping there’s more to come and Ms. Dunham proves me wrong.
Do you watch Girls? How do you feel about Lena Dunham’s on camera swirl? Tweet me @hb_leigh and sound off!