The trailer for the second season of Lena Dunham's HBO show Girls just came out. The overwhelming consensus is that it looks pretty good, not that it matters much, as the show was recently picked up for a third season. In recent months, Dunham has also been nominated for an Emmy and scored a $3.5 million book deal. Esequire said she's "building an empire." And she casually goes out to dinner with Claire Danes.
When you head home for the holidays, there's a decent possibility your Mom will ask, "What's up with Lena Dunham?" Here's how you should answer.
Mom: Do you know this Lena Dunham?
You: Yes. People were kind of iffy on her back in 2011, but in 2012, everyone became obsessed with her!
Allow me to explain. About a year ago, her show Girls released the trailer for its first season. Bloggers wrote and tweeted about the series, mostly because, well, an HBO show about living in Brooklyn written by a then 25-year-old is the kind of thing lots of bloggers like to write about. It seemed promising, but also possibly doomed to fail — like I Just Want My Pants Back, MTV's one-season attempt at a "hipsters living in Brooklyn" show, did. Some film industry insiders and young culture-hungry types were Dunham fans, a credit to her 2010 film Tiny Furniture. But a large group of naysayers also existed, calling her a not particularly talented product of nepotism. She attracted attention, but as a tattooed 25-year-old who looks different from most other women in Hollywood, she was bound to. Besides, she was barely in Hollywood.
Now she has a show, and a book deal, and an Emmy nomination, and she's friends with all the celebrities.
What is her show about?
Oh! So it's like your life.
Oh, so it's like "Sex And The City"!
Gotcha. So I heard she got a lot of money for her book.
Wait! So publishers will pay a person in their mid-20s millions of dollars to write about themselves?
Didn't she make a video for the Obama campaign?
Is she successful because her parents are rich and famous?
Who's Judd Apatow?
Why does she have all those tattoos?!
Okay, so, do you like her? Is she, like, your idol?
Every young writer/aspiring writer/coffee-getter, or anyone generally drawn to creative pursuits I know has inevitably been asked this over the past year.
It's impossible not to be a little envious of a person near your age making a show about the kind of stuff you and your friends deal with every day — texting, bad sex, weird babysitting jobs.
If you're a high school football player looking to get recruited, are you going to look up at the people succeeding? Yes, you are.
Maybe so much of the confusion surrounding Dunham's ubiquity has something to do with the masses not being used to young women who don't look like runway models running the show. Everyone will just have to learn to deal.