At yesterday’s Television Critics Association winter press tour, a panel for HBO’s Girls became a tense battleground when The Wrap’s Tim Molloy kicked off the event by asking creator Lena Dunham why so many of the show’s characters were naked all the time.
“I don’t get the purpose of all of the nudity on the show, by you particularly, and I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they are doing it,” Molloy said. “They are doing it to be salacious and, you know, titillate people. And your character is often naked just at random times for no reason.”
The reaction from the panelists — which included Dunham and the three other main Girls cast members and executive producers Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow — was swift.
“It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it,” said Dunham. “If you are not into me, that’s your problem, and you are going to have to kind of work that out with whatever professionals you’ve hired.”
Things only escalated from there.
Apatow verbally pounced on Molloy, as seen from the following transcript snippet:
JUDD APATOW: Do you have a girlfriend?
TIM MOLLOY: Yeah.
JA: Does she like you?
JA: OK. Let’s see how she likes you when you quote that with your question, and just write the whole question as you stated it.
TM: Well, ask tell me —
JA: Then tell me how it goes tonight.
TM: Tell me why it’s wrong.
JENNI KONNER: Maybe she’s a misogynist.
JA: Let’s move on to the next question.
Later, Konner went back to the earlier incident while answering a question about being creatively flexible with the show.
JK: I literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy that I literally could not hear. I’m so sorry. I really don’t mean to disrespect you. I just was looking at him and going into this rage, this idea that you would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. The idea, it just makes me sort of sick, and so I apologize to everyone. I’m going to try to focus now, but if I space out, it will be because of that guy. And I’m really interested in what publication you are from.
TM: I’d like to talk. That has nothing to do with what I said.
JK: We heard the question.
JA: We don’t expect that from The New York Times. That’s all I’m saying.
JK: I don’t expect that from US Weekly.
TM: I don’t understand it from any standpoint is what I’m asking. I’m asking as a critic for you to help me understand the show and what the purpose of it is.
JA: Yeah. We answered.
JK: I’m so sorry.
LD: It’s whatever.
Molloy then wrote a piece for The Wrap to explain his position, noting that following the panel, executive producer Judd Apatow told him that his line of questioning was “sexist, offensive, and misogynistic.”
In a post-panel discussion, Apatow and Molloy continued to hash out their positions on the matter, with Apatow wondering, “As a TV critic, you don’t understand why a show about young people in New York who spend some of their time naked, and some of their time having sex, includes women who sometimes are naked and sometimes have sex?”
So why did Molloy take this line of questioning in the first place? As he wrote in The Wrap, “Girls has more nudity by its lead character than any show, well, ever. But my girlfriend and I don’t understand the reason for it. We’re cool with nudity, and if Dunham wants to be naked, great. I’m not offended by it. I don’t like it or not like it. I just don’t get the artistic reason for it, and want to understand it, because I’m a TV critic.”
But perhaps this query would have been better suited for when Girls was just beginning, rather than at the start of the show’s third season, which begins Sunday on HBO. It’s no surprise that Dunham and her colleagues might be tired of hearing questions about the show’s use of nudity over and over again. The show strives to depict, if not reality, than the reality of its characters’ lives…and those lives include moments of disrobing.
Girls is an unflinching look at moments of baring one’s self, physically and emotionally, after all. It’s often literally navel-gazing, and that sits at the very heart of the show itself, revealing inner truths of these twentysomething characters’ lives.
Season 3 of Girls begins Sunday night at 10 p.m. on HBO. A fourth season has been ordered and will air in 2015.