HBO’s “Girls” series got a lot of attention its first season for having an entirely white cast of lead actors. The second season of the show that premieres this coming Sunday is said to include a bit more color.
Before the show premiered in 2012 the reviews raved about the show because “there was nothing else like it on TV.” The twenty-something creator of the show, Lena Dunham, was said to have created an authentic portrayal for and by millennials. New York Magazine said that for young people the show was “FUBU” (for us by us).
But in the end not everyone saw themselves in the show… mostly because it was so white.
According to early reviews of the second season of “Girls,” the series will include a romantic storyline between Dunham’s lead character and actor Donald Glover
Season two starts with a pretty big – and unexplained – jump. Hannah is now dating a handsome black Republican named Sandy (Donald Glover)… When Sandy calls out Hannah’s knowledge of race and its ramifications, she goes on a self-righteous, defensive rant, and Sandy says, “You just said a Missy Elliott lyric.” There are attacks on fixie bikes, rich white girls dating black men, iPad-using gay DJs, what constitutes a “pretty person’s job,” and the smug cynicism of youthful people who haven’t earned the right to it.
Goodman described Glover’s character storyline as a pretty big unexplained jump… which could mean his role may appear to be the token black guy on the show.
But we’ll have to see because Dunham has actually spoken candidly about the diversity in the cast and specifically spoke to tokenism in casting. Below is a snippet of a May 2012 interview of Dunham speaking to NPR’s Terry Gross:
“I wrote the first season primarily by myself, and I co-wrote a few episodes. But I am a half-Jew, half-WASP, and I wrote two Jews and two WASPs. Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting. If I had one of the four girls, if, for example, she was African-American, I feel like – not that the experience of an African-American girl and a white girl are drastically different, but there has to be specificity to that experience [that] I wasn’t able to speak to. I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, ‘I hear this and I want to respond to it.’ And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can’t speak to accurately.”
We’ll have to wait till Sunday to see if Glover’s character comes off as the token black guy on the show but what’s clear is he’s definitely the token black republican. There aren’t too many of them in real life–this last election, 90 percent of the black vote went to Obama.
The new season of “Girls” debuts on January 13.