Season one of Girls highlighted the tensions between the legitimacy of the "personal" viewpoint produced by auteur-driven television and the politics of the "post-racial" age. While we've seen some thoughtful meditations on the contemporary intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality on auteur-driven shows like Louie and to a lesser extent The Mindy Project (and to go even further back, Curb Your Enthusiasm), it was Girls that stirred the polemics of this discussion. This was partly predicated upon the guileless comments of Lena Dunham: “I really wrote the show from a sort of a gut-level place...Only later did I realize that it was four white girls.” What is revealing is not that Dunham forgot to "include" people of color in her semi-fictional world – it was that she forgot she was white.
Girls exemplifies the accidental failures of neoliberal multiculturalism to account for whiteness as an articulated form of identity because the rhetoric of multicultural inclusion does not necessarily demand an acknowledgment of the centrality of whiteness to this operation. As Dunham's comment suggests, she can restore her "accident" to political correctness by casting a token black person for the next season.
But while it's not impossible, it is unlikely that these upper-middle class pseudo-hipster Oberlin alumnae would have close black or brown friends, despite living a city that is only 44.6% white, according to the 2010 Census. What would make for a far more interesting (and truthful) storyline is not how Hannah Horvath deals with Donald Glover, but how she comes to realize the many ways in which she doesn't – and may never have to.
In this clip from the episode “Hannah's Diary,” Hannah seeks no-nonsense advice from her racialized, working-class co-workers, while Jessa attempts to organize the immigrant nannies at her local playground. Both of these scenarios use class and racial contrasts as a form of comic relief for our carefree white girls; neither allows for any insight. Curiously, the episode's other major comic relief is the character of Shoshanna, a prude yet sex-obsessed Jewish American princess whose insecurity and inexperience legitimize the sexual exploration of the others – particularly Jessa and Marnie, paragons of white feminine beauty.
While the show is acclaimed for its honest, awkward portrayal of sexual confusion, Dunham would do well to explore the terrain of race – a far more prudish topic in 2013 than sexual promiscuity or financial profligacy.