There are a lot of reasons why some critics panned Lena Dunham‘s Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, and most of those reasons were prejudiced. Of the negative reviews I have read, 80% – a conservative estimate – have been blatantly sexist and/or ableist; the other 20% were written by people who had similarly negative feelings regarding Dunham’s film and television work. So let me make this perfectly clear: if you do not like Girls, you will not like Not That Kind of Girl.
Granted, I know several fans of Girls who were not impressed with Dunham’s memoir. But it seems as if there were people who either 1) expected to like Not That Kind of Girl in spite of their feelings for Dunham and her comedic style, or 2) read the book just to revile it properly.
Some of the criticism poured on Dunham’s body of work is deserved. Her characters are almost entirely the white adult children of upper-middle-class parents, and the worlds she creates are devoid of racial diversity. Many critics have posited – perhaps rightly so – that Dunham is, in many ways, blind to her own privileges. Regardless, her representations of Millennial women’s awkwardness and mental illness are just as important as Allie Brosh‘s.
Everything you’ve heard about Lena Dunham is true: she’s white, young, and talented. She comes from upper-middle-class stock, suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and – by media standards – is overweight. While many critics have bent toward calling Dunham a spoiled and ungrateful brat – the Millennials’ Holden Caulfield, if you will – the situations, events, and reactions she describes are the reality many young women face today. Like it or not, Dunham has become the voice of a generation, even if that generation includes very few people outside her own demographic.
Ultimately, Not That Kind of Girl is an uncomfortable, but unflinching, look at the events that shape a young Millennial’s life and person. In this writer’s opinion, those are the stories most worth listening to.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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