Why the World Needs People Like Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham doesn’t want to be a voice of a generation anymore, so it seems. In early January, the actress and founder of popular TV series Girls announced she doesn’t want to be doing the show in her thirties. At its emergence in 2012, the show was seen as a realistic and down to earth version of Sex and the City. Although it was targeted towards a slightly younger age group, it showed that not all girls in New York were dressed in designer clothes whilst sipping a cosmopolitan.

Girls started with a bang, when Dunham’s character Hannah is told by her parents that they will no longer financially support her. Hannah is an aspiring writer in her early twenties, with no desires of finding a serious job just yet. An attitude she shares with her three best friends. As the series came out in the midst of the economical crisis, when all creative graduates were left with nothing but unpaid internships, the series’ main success was that it was recognisable. Young girls all over the world could identify themselves with the shows’ characters.

It turned out that reality gets boring after a while, and as the show progressed, the plot became more and more random. I personally thought about giving up several times while committedly watching every single episode of season 3. I couldn’t recognise myself in it any longer, but as it turns out, nor did Lena. In a recent interview with LinkedIn Pulse, the actor/screenwriter/author opened up about her inability to say “No”. After the success of Girls abruptly turned her life upside down, interesting work offers seemed to come from every single corner: “And as I am – like many others – a people pleaser, I never admitted to myself how extremely busy I was”. What followed was that Dunham didn’t have enough time to live her own life, resulting in a lack of real life inspiration when writing the script for the third series of Girls.

Although she massively tested the loyal Girls audience with this personal struggle, I think it’s an acceptable excuse. Dunham is not afraid to show her weaknesses and personal challenges, and that’s exactly why I love her. Although a big part of the world seems to passionately dislike her – she is either too ugly, too self centered or too whiny – I think the way she uses her public position to address issues related to feminism and being young is highly admirable.

I have to admit, however, that her self-involvement can sometimes overshadow her likeability. When I was reading ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ – which is her book about herself – I shivered every time I counted the words ‘I’ or ‘Me’. But maybe that’s just inherent to being a role model. Maybe, being a public figure is unbearable for those who do not wish to speak about themselves. And in that case, we desperately need narcissistic people like Lena Dunham. Someone who actually says what everyone was already thinking. Someone who’s honest enough to take away other people’s insecurities, by telling them how it really is.

The new season of Girls airs on February 21