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Lena Dunham: Stop Asking Whether My Characters Are Likable

Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty Images

Why are bad guys on TV okay while “bad” girls are not? Last night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as part of Unbound: A Literary Series With BAM and Greenlight Bookstore, Lena Dunham briefly talked about how annoying it is to keep having to address the double standard. “We get so many questions about the likability of our characters,” Dunham said. “But it’s such a weird question to be getting in a world where our favorite television characters are Tony Soprano, Dexter, and Walter White. People are like, ‘He did the drugs for his family!’ and then they’re like, ‘and that girl was mean to her friend, and she should get the death penalty.’ It sometimes feels a little bit like we’re stuck in The Twilight Zone when every time Jemima and I or whatever go out and do a panel, they’re like, ‘How do you feel about playing such bad girls?’”

Dunham was onstage with novelist Zadie Smith, whom she apparently has a hearty email relationship with. “Even when you’re writing,” said Smith, “you’re sending me things about Beyoncé.”

Dunham: She just saw the “Anaconda” video for the first time three days ago.
Smith: That’s what happens when you have children. I just found out about it.
Dunham: And then I told her that I show it to my dad like once a week.
Smith: It was a shock, I can’t lie. I was shocked.

Dunham: Stop Asking About Likable Characters