I tried to watch HBO’s much-lauded Girls.
I received absolutely nothing for my trouble, except 30 minutes with full-on screw face. Kendra and Jenna Worthham have already handled the diversity questions that arise with the pilot, but I have to admit that I really don’t care about diversity on this show. If they didn’t get the message by now, it’s not going to happen. And, on the real, is this what we really want? Diversifying that show is the pop culture version of integrating into a burning house.
My personal rule (being an urbanite) is that if someone can’t diversify their social circle in areas like Brooklyn or DC, they are not people I want to know. So whatever, the show isn’t for me. A lot of them aren’t–I don’t watch Two and a Half Men, nor do I watch Rules of Engagement, and that’s just fine. I’m not the core audience, and that was made abundantly clear.
After I turned off Girls, I tried to make sense of why I was so deeply pissed off. And for me, what stood out the most wasn’t anything to do with the monochrome cast. Nor was it the wink-wink nudge-nudge entitlement of the privileged class, though that’s fully there as well. (Pro Tip: Being aware of racism, classism, or ignorance is not the same as actually doing something about it.)
But more than anything, I was annoyed because the usual accolades, denials, misrepresentations that follow after a show like this airs. There’s the usual conversation from gender-focused outlets that these shows are for ALL women and we all need to go support or else we won’t ever get another shiny new toy. Then comes the idea that, even though this show is totally for ALL women, that we shouldn’t be attacking them for things like a total lack of diversity because it’s not fair to expect one show to be all things to all people. Then we start hearing the usual idiotic arguments about television being a meritocracy where, if you create good programming, you will automatically be served with a deal, or that it’s so unfair that this one show is getting so much negative attention when whatever new show of the year is one of dozens that fits the same basic theme of exclusion.
So for the purposes of this piece, I want to talk about why there is such a diversity gap in television, and in most pop culture, more broadly.
Let’s start with what is considered watchable. Continue reading