Fordham University professor Christina Greer explains in a piece at Time why she as a black woman is a fan of HBO’s Girls, which has come under fire for representing only white New York.
I am not ashamed to admit it: I am a black woman who loves the show Girls, HBO’s dramedy about the uncomfortable and sometimes ugly journey of a group of young women learning how to be adults. Since its first episode, critics have scolded Girls for whitewashing New York City, showing only characters of privilege and few of color. But that shouldn’t be a reason to dismiss the show.
No one really “teaches” women how to transition into adulthood; it just happens. I spent my post-college years in New York City and can relate to some (though luckily not all) of the misadventures of Hannah and her friends. I had a diverse group of girlfriends — black and non-black, women with PhDs and GEDs, friends that represented the entire socio-economic spectrum. If I am honest with myself, my discoveries in New York City in those early years often involved selfishness, minor betrayals and friendships lost. Another dose of honesty: it was privilege that allowed me to spend some of my early twenties experimenting with adulthood, reveling and slowly coming to understand that unsure time.
It’s true that Girls has zero non-white characters — Donald Glover’s two-episode cameo as the black Republican in season two notwithstanding. But this is hardly new in the world of entertainment. Friends, Seinfeld, Entourage, The Sopranos, and just about every Woody Allen movie are monochromatic. And it’s not always unrealistic. There were several times I ventured to a new neighborhood or local hangout only to discover that there were absolutely no people of color to be found. There really are enclaves of New York City that are overwhelmingly white. Girls has been quite honest about the loneliness and uncertainty of being a twenty-something in a big city. Adding an African American or Asian American character wouldn’t change that, but there is a long list of shows that have clumsily attempted to side step a glaring lack of diversity with a sassy or wise friend of color.
Read Christina Greer’s entire piece at Time.
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