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HBO's Girls and the Awkward Politics of Gender, Race, and Privilege

Edited by Elwood Watson; Jennifer Mitchell and Marc Edward Shaw - Contributions by Joycelyn Bailey; Maria San Filippo; Yael Levy; Lloyd Isaac Vayo; Tom Pace; Hank Willenbrink and Laura Witherington

HBO’s Girls and the Awkward Politics of Gender, Race, and Privilege is a collection of essays that examines the HBO program Girls. Since its premiere in 2012, the series has garnered the attention of individuals from various walks of life. The show has been described in many terms: insightful, out-of-touch, brash, sexist, racist, perverse, complex, edgy, daring, provocative—just to name a few. Overall, there is no doubt that Girls has firmly etched itself in the fabric of early twenty-first-century popular culture.

The essays in this book examine the show from various angles including: white privilege; body image; gender; culture; race; sexuality; parental and generational attitudes; third wave feminism; male emasculation and immaturity; hipster, indie, and urban music as it relates to Generation Y and Generation X. By examining these perspectives, this book uncovers many of the most pressing issues that have surfaced in the show, while considering the broader societal implications therein.

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Lexington Books
Pages: 220Size: 6 x 10
978-1-4985-1261-9 • Hardback • August 2015 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
978-1-4985-2299-1 • Paperback • May 2017 • $42.99 • (£29.95)
978-1-4985-1262-6 • eBook • August 2015 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Elwood Watson is professor of history, gender studies, and African-American studies at East Tennessee State University.

Jennifer Mitchell teaches at Weber State University.

Marc Shaw is associate professor of Theater Arts at Hartwick College.

        1. Introduction
Girls and the Awkward Politics of Gender, Race, and Privilege
Elwood Watson, Jennifer Mitchell and Marc E. Shaw

Chapter 1
She's Just Not That Into You: Dating, Damage and Gender
Jennifer Mitchell

Chapter 2
The Body Police: Lena Dunham, Susan Bordo and HBO Girls
Joycelyn Bailey

Chapter 3
Owning Her Abjection: Lena Dunham's Feminist Body Politics
Maria San Filippo

Chapter 4
Girls' Issues: The Feminist Politics of
Girls Celebration of The Trivial
Yael Levy

Chapter 5
Sentimental Boys in
Marc E. Shaw

Chapter 6
Capitalizing on Cool: The Music That Makes
Hank Willenbrink

Chapter 7
Generation X Archtypes and HBO
Tom Pace

Chapter 8
Reading Girls: Bringing Sexy Back To
Laura Witherington

Chapter 9
Lena Dunham: Awkward White Girl
Elwood Watson

Chapter 10
Marnye On the Ones and Twos: Appropriating Race, Criticizing Class in
Lloyd Isaac Vayo
HBO’s Girls first aired in 2012, and the contributors to this volume examine the show’s first three seasons and analyze popular discourse surrounding creator Lena Dunham. Girls is both acclaimed and panned in popular media, and the contributors tease out debates over the show’s feminism and its identity and body politics. Two of the strongest essays, Jocelyn Bailey's 'The Body Police' and Maria San Filippo's 'Owning Her Abjection,' focus on discourse about Dunham’s body (both on screen and off) and do a good job of blending theory and textual analysis. Other essays focus on how Girls treats race, music, class, and millennial struggle and privilege. Elwood Watson is deft in critiquing the show’s racial politics and lack of diversity. Fans and critics of the show’s male characters (particularly Adam and Ray) will also find more than enough to ponder in this book. Though there is a tendency across the essays to focus on the same episodes ('One Man’s Trash' and 'Vagina Panic,' for example), readers can forgive the repetition because it comes with smart commentary. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.