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Girls creator, writer, director and star, Lena Dunham continues to spark important and controversial conversations with her show. This week, in a brilliantly crafted episode, Lena’s character Hannah had a spontaneous 48-hour fling with an older man who was rich and very very hot.
Did you pick the problem with that sentence? Neither did I. But many have lost their shit over the idea of someone who looks like Lena having sex with someone who looks like Joshua, the character played by actor Patrick Wilson.
Here’s a preview:
To paraphrase the commentary: “As if he would fuck HER”
Some (male) writers laughed that it must have been a dream sequence. Others mocked that as the writer, Lena Dunham had simply written the most out-there sexual fantasy she could think of just so she could then act it out as the star of the show.
Again: how could a guy like HIM want to spend time and have sex with a girl that looked like THAT.
This seems to be the part that some people found so implausible:
Joshua: You’re beautiful.
Hannah: You really think so?
Joshua: You don’t?
Hannah: I do. It’s just not always the feedback that I’ve been given.
In an article titled “Was that the worst episode of Girls ever?” Slate writers David Haglund and Daniel Engber tried to articulate why they were so uncomfortable watching it: “Why are these people having sex, when they are so clearly mismatched—in style, in looks, in manners, in age, in everything?” they wondered, adding “There are things that Hannah would not, in any world that resembled our own, get. Such as Patrick Wilson, for instance.”
But wait, there’s more.
As for the purpose of the episode, I wondered if it wasn’t deliberately provocative, in the way that Lena Dunham’s nudity this season might have gotten more frequent in defiance of her critics. Not only has the show flipped the standard dorky-guy-and-hot-babe narrative, it’s done so with a hint of aggression.
I felt trapped by my unwillingness to buy into the central premise. Narcissistic, childish men sleep with beautiful women all the time in movies and on TV, so why should this coupling be so difficult to fathom?
I think it’s because Hannah is especially and assertively ugly in this episode. She’s rude (“what did you do?” she asks Joshua, referring to his broken marriage), self-centered (“I’m too smart and too sensitive”)
The title of this episode of Girls is “One Man’s Trash” – a play on the fact Hannah went to Joshua’s house to apologise for using his trashcan to dump the garbage from the cafe where she works.
But it’s also another play on the idea that Lena KNOWS some people are going to be sceptical and scornful of the idea that a girl like HER could ‘land’ a guy as hot as him.
What bollocks – and I’m talking about the part where people believe it could never happen. Because what does that say about women – that we’re only sexually attractive if we look like Victoria’s Secret models? And what does it say about men – that they’re so superficial that it doesn’t matter if a woman is dumb as a plank, the only quality they value is hotness.
People are attracted to each other for myriad reasons – some of which we don’t understand ourselves. Couples don’t have to ‘match’ – physically, intellectually, financially, astrologically.
Sometimes – most of the time – it’s chemistry.
Funny how nobody gets their knickers in a twist about any of THESE real-life pairings:
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Oh, and in real life, Patrick Wilson’s wife and the mother of his two kids, Dagmara Dominczyk weighed into the debate with this reply after someone on Twitter was disparaging about the idea of Patrick Wilson ever sleeping with Hannah:
And here she is:
So anyway. Bravo Lena Dunham for the way you continue to challenge entrenched ideas about how women (and men) behave and what ‘sexy’ looks like.
Have you see the episode [you can download it from itunes here]? Even if you haven’t, do you see what the fuss is about?