It may not be difficult to believe that an HBO show contains a lot of nudity, but for reporter Tim Molloy of The Wrap it doesn’t make any sense. At a Television Critics Association panel discussion for the upcoming season of HBO’s hit show GIRLS, Molloy posed the question to the show’s creator Lena Dunham, “I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.” Lena’s response?
“It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem.”
Executive producer Judd Apatow also added, “Do you have a girlfriend? Does she like you? Let’s see how she likes you when you quote that with your question, and just write the whole question as you stated it,” and, according to Molloy in his article, Apatow also called him sexist and mysogynist after the panel discussion:
Dunham left after the panel. But Apatow stuck around, and we talked about my question, which he said was “offensive on its face.”
“You should read it and discuss it with other people,” he told me. “It is very offensive.”
“Is it sexist?” I asked. “Because I would ask the same question –”
“It’s sexist and offensive, it’s misogynistic,” he said.
“I’m not saying it’s bad that she’s nude,” I said.
Molloy claims his girlfriend was “cool with it”, but the question seemed to insult the panel. The LA Times’ Yvonne Villarreal was also there and reports that Dunham drew parallels of her character on GIRLS to Walter White and Tony Soprano implying that her character is hard to like but still people want to watch. Dunham said,
“I think that, for us, the idea that we were trying to say “F you” to our critics would imply that we didn’t believe or understand, and the fact is, like I always tell people, yes, it’s uncomfortable when sort of negative attention is named at you, but I also felt like that’s such an important conversation that if we are going to be the instigator of that, I’m not going to be frustrated about it, because that’s a conversation that needs to happen in the world. We need to talk about diversifying the world of television, and we are trying to continue to do it in ways that are genuine, natural, intelligent.. I’ve learned so much in the past few years about, sort of, intersectionality, the way that feminism has underserved women of color. I really try to educate myself in those areas…. We never want to start a story line that we are going to kind of let flitter off. So, now, we are finding ways to introduce people who are more lasting because we are ready to kind of open up the worlds of these girls.”
But the best part was when Judd Apatow gave a more important answer during the panel discussion when he explained that nudity serves a purpose outside of the general sexual or artistic idea and more of a social or perhaps even philosophical question of why we feel the need to cover up, drawing from people’s insecurities and the need to relate.
“Because it’s real, it touches on people’s insecurities,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard to watch because everybody relates to it in some way. Like when that guy goes in the mirror and looks at himself naked, he feels bad and he relates. He’s like, ‘Why is anyone naked?’ ”
GIRLS may not be poised as the most important work of our time, but it does push the envelope of the acceptance and exploration of a young woman’s life in New York from a unique perspective. The show has been called “boring” and “stale” by a number of critics, and perhaps it’s because it’s a little too real at times.