HBO's Girls and the Awkward Politics of Gender, Race, and Privilege

Contributions by Joycelyn Bailey, Maria San Filippo, Yael Levy, Lloyd Isaac Vayo, Tom Pace, Hank Willenbrink, Laura Witherington Edited by Elwood Watson, Jennifer Mitchell, Marc Edward Shaw

Publication date:

27 August 2015

Length of book:

210 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9781498512619

HBO’s Girls and the Awkward Politics of Gender, Race, and Privilege is a collection of essays that examines the HBO program Girls. Since its premiere in 2012, the series has garnered the attention of individuals from various walks of life. The show has been described in many terms: insightful, out-of-touch, brash, sexist, racist, perverse, complex, edgy, daring, provocative—just to name a few. Overall, there is no doubt that Girls has firmly etched itself in the fabric of early twenty-first-century popular culture.

The essays in this book examine the show from various angles including: white privilege; body image; gender; culture; race; sexuality; parental and generational attitudes; third wave feminism; male emasculation and immaturity; hipster, indie, and urban music as it relates to Generation Y and Generation X. By examining these perspectives, this book uncovers many of the most pressing issues that have surfaced in the show, while considering the broader societal implications therein.

HBO’s Girls first aired in 2012, and the contributors to this volume examine the show’s first three seasons and analyze popular discourse surrounding creator Lena Dunham. Girls is both acclaimed and panned in popular media, and the contributors tease out debates over the show’s feminism and its identity and body politics. Two of the strongest essays, Jocelyn Bailey's 'The Body Police' and Maria San Filippo's 'Owning Her Abjection,' focus on discourse about Dunham’s body (both on screen and off) and do a good job of blending theory and textual analysis. Other essays focus on how Girls treats race, music, class, and millennial struggle and privilege. Elwood Watson is deft in critiquing the show’s racial politics and lack of diversity. Fans and critics of the show’s male characters (particularly Adam and Ray) will also find more than enough to ponder in this book. Though there is a tendency across the essays to focus on the same episodes ('One Man’s Trash' and 'Vagina Panic,' for example), readers can forgive the repetition because it comes with smart commentary. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.