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Roots of "Girls" Whiteness Crisis: "Tiny Furniture"
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April 29, 2012, 02:03 AM
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So, I watched Lena Dunham`s 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture, which served as a trial run for her HBO series Girls

For a $50,000 budget film written, directed, and starring a 23-year-old, it`s quite competently done. It gets lumped in with the "mumblecore" movement, but the dialogue is crisply written and well-recorded. The word that kept coming to my mind is "watchable." 

Tiny Furniture is not laugh out loud funny, but it gets funnier a second time through as you pick up that you aren`t supposed to feel terribly sorry for Dunham`s dumpy character as she endures repeated humiliations trying to launch a career as a hipster media sensation. She isn`t supposed to be likable, as she does selfish things to people trying to be nice to her. She`s a young, female George Costanza, but an ambitious egomaniac to boot, lacking George`s contentment with his own mediocrity. 

You sympathize a little with her for having a mother / role model who has, somehow, clawed her way to making a lot of money in the New York art scene by taking art photos of tiny furniture (played in the movie by Dunham`s real life mother, who, indeed, makes money selling in galleries her photos of tiny furniture). But, it`s an inherently absurd situation.

So, who exactly are all the aggrieved People of Color who want to be this character`s friend? And why?

And that raises the question of earlier New York sitcoms about People of Pallor, such as Seinfeld, where the only memorable black character was Kramer`s Johnny Cochran-inspired lawyer. After Seinfeld and, especially, after Curb Your Enthusiasm (by which point Larry David had a half billion dollars, so even if he got Michael Richardized if a race joke went over wrong, he`d still have a half billion dollars), isn`t it pretty obvious that Larry David`s views on race are closer to mine than to those of all the folks who are in a huff over Lena Dunham`s three titular friends being white. At least on the central issue — Race Is Not a Joking Matter! — me and Larry are on the same side of the barricades.