Seriously, How Many Times Does Lena Dunham Have to Explain Her Nudity?


At a panel yesterday, the producers of Girls announced that the show had been renewed for a fourth season. And yet here we are, in yet another discussion about why Lena Dunham’s always shucking it for the camera.

At a Television Critics Association panel, a reporter from the Wrap took the opportunity to ask about the issue, wording it as follows:

“I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.

This certainly seems to assume that the only reason to include nudity on your TV show is that it’s a chance to sexily parade around sexy bodies for maximum sexiness. Problematic, to say the least!

Tim Molloy, the reporter who asked the question, has written his own accounting of what went down. He says he isn’t personally offended by the nudity and insists he was just setting the show’s creators up for an explanation of an artistic choice. He’d ask the same question just as readily of Louie C.K. were he perpetually naked:

And there are probably ways to ask a similar question that might’ve gotten a different answer. But it seems that, phrased as it was, the question came off as “UGH why do I have to see Lena Dunham’s body so damn much?”

The panelists did not like that one bit, and so they went in guns blazing.

“Yeah. It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem,” was Lena Dunham’s response. A couple of questions later, according to Today, executive producer Jenni Konner was still so pissed she was distracted: “I literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy that I literally could not hear,” infuriated at “this idea that he would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much.”

But it was producer Judd Apatow who really took the dude to task, suggesting his girlfriend would not not approve: “Let’s see how she likes you when you quote that with your question and just write the whole question… and tell me how it goes tonight.” Kinda weird line of attack, Judd. The reporter stuck around afterward to followup with Apatow, and he was still ready to rage:

“You should read it and discuss it with other people,” he told me. “It is very offensive.”
“Is it sexist?” I asked. “Because I would ask the same question –”
“It’s sexist and offensive, it’s misogynistic,” he said.

Defenders say Molloy’s comments were interpreted way harsh, Tai — plus it the whole exchange likely would’ve gone way better without the Game of Thrones reference muddying the water:

But it’s still worth saying that the whole point of the nudity is to undermine the assumption that women’s bodies exist to be salivated over, as well as to demonstrate that there’s a wider array of body types than what you’d see on, yes, Game of Thrones. Some of us just like to brush our teeth naked, so we don’t get toothpaste on our shirts. (Seriously, try it for a week, it’ll change your life.)

It seems that after a year and a half, the producers of Girls are sick of explaining that, though.

They might want to spend some time thinking about the show’s other long-running controversy, diversity, though. Asked about the lack of a regular minority character, Konner said they were working on it, but Apatow was downright dismissive. Via the AP:

“I don’t think that there’s any reason why any show should feel an obligation to do that,” Apatow replied.
“In the history of television, you could look at every show on TV and say, ‘How come there’s not an American Indian on this show?’ ‘How come there’s not an Asian person on this show?”‘ he said. “It really has to come from the story and the stories that we are trying to tell.”

If only he could work up the same level of ire about the show’s overwhelming whiteness.

Image via Getty

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