This Girls ‘Nepotism’ Poster Illustrates The Privilege Backlash Against Lena Dunham And Her Co-Stars

Girls "nepotism" poster Lena Dunham Allison Williams Zosia Mamet Jemima Kirke

For the most part, we were fans of Lena Dunham‘s new HBO series Girls because we felt that it captured the awkwardness and struggles of our twenties with more realism than we’ve seen on television before. But a new joke poster seems intent on arguing against that point, by showing that the comedy’s four stars are not the Everywomen we’re hailing them as. This Girls nepotism poster began making the rounds on the internet over the past twenty-four hours. Instead of the actresses’ names, it brands each girl by her famous parent.

The most obvious for me are Allison Williams, with her famous father Brian Williams from NBC, and Zosia Mamet, whose father is the playwright David Mamet. But Jemima Kirke‘s dad is a drummer, and Lena’s mother is an artist, so both girls have also known more success and privilege than your average twentysomething. And that can be upsetting for viewers, who are meant to take these characters as indicative of the Millennial generation.

The Jane Dough lauded the poster, arguing that it would have brought much more gravity to the show to cast at least one person who didn’t have familial ties within the entertainment industry:

Hollywood is an “all about who you know” business, but I’ve been most inspired by its success stories of people who worked their way up through persistence and talent without the celeb parents boost, and just one of these types could have brought some balance to Girls.

Weirdly enough, backlash to this backlash poster came from actor Crispin Glover, who wrote an insightful rebuttal on his Tumblr. You should read the whole thing, but here’s the beginning:

I don’t think people understand what a hot load of misogyny this mock poster is blowing. There is no doubt that privilege gets us everything in life. But there is also no way that HBO is going to give someone a TV show based solely on who their parents are. The channel that does that is E!, ok? It makes me so angry that everyone wants to reduce the hard work and creativity and risks that went into this show to nepotism.

To be fair, these young women are famous within New York circles, but not to the public at large. Not everyone sees Mamet plays or goes to Bad Company shows, so to many viewers these girls might as well be unknowns. If it only bothers young women struggling to make it in New York… well, as the show proves, we’ve got a lot more important things to worry about.

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Photo: Newsweek’s Tumblr

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    • Cee

      When people make fun of this show, its misogyny, but make fun of other women in other shows and the feminists are right there with everyone. I’m lost?

    • Sparky

      Pure Nepotism would mean that these girls got the gigs regardless of talent, but that’s not the story. My guess is that they had early exposure to the business of entertainment and lacked for little in the way of classes and expenditures to further their goals. It would also be interesting to know the answers to “Hey who was your first agent?” and, “remember all those little projects we had to do just to get our foot in the door?” My guess is that the answer to those questions will sound like “oh, UTA/CAA/Endevour” (Major Power House agencies) and “Oh… I my first job was a supporting role on a TV show, I met the producers at a party at my house.”
      They are damned if they do, damned if they don’t- but for better or worse they do not get to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who worked their way up from the bottom.

    • T-Lex

      I think if anything the joke is on the poster. I think a big critique of generation is everyone’s willingness to depend on their parents for far too much for far too long. Also with all of the bad mouthing the show going on very little of it was centered on the acting in fact I saw a lot of “the acting was great but…” so this was pretty much the silliest thing to take issue with.

    • LMM

      I don’t see why their background matters. Sure, they’re privileged girls playing girls who are struggling to make it. BUT HELLOOOOO IT’S CALLED ACTING!!!! Just because their characters are supposed to be “everywoman” doesn’t mean they need to be that in real life. If viewers have an issue with actresses being someone other than their characters in reality then I think they would struggle to see most shows.

    • Wilber the King

      Actually, since Glover’s Dad was an actor too, what does he know about it? And what does it have to do with woman hatred? It’s funny, but it’s no big deal. I’ve never heard of the artist in question, and I don’t think having a drummer dad counts for that much. And Mamet’s wife was a big actress too, why is she being slighted? =) Nepotism probably exists in all lines of work…

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    • ttaayy

      What bothers people is not that these girls don’t deserve to be on a tv show–what bothers people (and me) is that its a show about struggling in new york when none of the actresses have had to struggle because they come from privileged backgrounds. So the dissonance for people is where is the realism that the critics are raving about? If Lena was making a show about any other subject matter, it wouldn’t receive such harsh criticism because she wouldn’t be seen as a hypocrite and people would focus on the merits of the show. Btw where did all the good staging and camera work go from Tiny Furniture? Did Jodi Lipps not have enough time or control on this show? This show is far more drab and boring compared to her feature.

    • maximum

      I watched the show with only the knowledge that one of the actresses was Brian William’s daughter. I didn’t know about the other girls. But, I didn’t really think anything of it. The show was funny and awkward in the best ways. I laughed, cringed and even said, “omg, that’s SO ____!” when a character did something totally ridiculous. Regardless of who these girls really are, the stories they’re telling and the characters they’re portraying remind me of my 20′s in NYC. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone…

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    • Babs

      Who cares about the nepotism.It’s an “issue” (if you want to call it that) in most industries. This show isn’t must-see-tv anyway. It’s just another show about the lives of moderately attractive white women “struggling” to navigate through adulthood and all that entails…YAWN.

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    • d_palumbo

      I don’t believe that the tumblr linked is actually Crispin Glover talking. It doesn’t take much digging to uncover that the author is a 20 something woman who possibly works in an office. She even has photos of herself posted. FYI

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    • Joe Birdbath

      I do not think the “poster” is correct, in one certain respect. One of the “Girls” (on the left) is not the daughter of the Bad Company drummer, but the daughter of the drummer in FOGHAT. They had a “# 1″ hit in the 1970 with their “boogie-rock” hit, “Slow Ride”.

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