In Which The Girls Team Totally Overreacts To A Reporter’s Question About Nudity

Girls cast attending the season three premiere January 2014

I don’t know if you were planning on it, but let me be the first to advise you that it’s not a good idea to ask the producers of Girls about all the nudity on the show…unless you want to trigger a virtual avalanche of pent-up aggression from a single query about its purpose, that is.

There was a panel for the show last night at the Television Critics Association press tour, and one reporter present had a question about why Lena Dunham‘s character Hannah Horvath is naked all the time. Something that we’ve all wondered on occasion and that she’s even parodied herself, by appearing naked and eating a birthday cake on the toilet in a promo for last year’s Golden Globes. But something about its delivery this time around set off what I feel is an extremely defensive, inappropriate reaction. Here’s what the reporter said to Lena, verbatim:

“I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show — by you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about all the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they do it. They do it to be salacious and titillate people. And your character is often nude at random times for no reason.”

Okay, sure. Comparing two shows with a bunch of nudity, and saying you understand why one show does it and you don’t understand why the other show does. Maybe I’m missing something derisive in his tone that I can’t catch because I wasn’t physically there, but I never could have predicted Judd Apatow‘s reaction:

“That was a very clumsily stated question that’s offensive on it’s face, and you should read it and discuss it with other people how you did that. It’s very offensive.”

And the reaction of fellow Executive Producer Jenni Konner, who interrupted her answer to another question later on to say:

“I literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy. I was just looking at him looking at him and going into this rage [over] this idea that you would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. The idea it just makes me sort of sick.”

Wowzers. A rage spiral? Really? Am I alone in wondering where that came from? I feel like maybe the team got themselves really tightly wound predicting the reaction to all the show’s nudity and answered a question that wasn’t really asked. Because this feels like a response to the statement, “Hey ugly, quit showing us your stupid naked lady body all the time.” That’s an offensive question, and it deserves a defensive answer. But I don’t think that guy’s necessarily did.

Maybe I’m giving the reporter guy too much credit, and I won’t argue that he’s pretty behind the times in bringing up the show’s nudity at all (that’s so 2012, am I right?), but at the heart of it, I think he really was asking a question. He was at a panel, asking a question about something he didn’t understand. (And, as he points out in his response, asking questions like this is his job as a TV critic.) Wouldn’t that have been a great opportunity to actually answer it, and in the process, educate someone on the purpose of the nudity in the show? I would have loved even a slightly snarky answer like, “We’re gonna keep doing it until people like you no longer find it worthy of a comment.” That would’ve really made a point, instead of putting the guy on the spot for body-shaming, something I’m not 100% convinced he was intending to do.

But to be fair, Lena did ultimately speak to the issue a bit, saying it’s:

“…a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive. But I totally get it. If you’re not into me, that’s your problem and you’re going to have to work that out with professionals.”

And once he’d calmed himself down, Judd added some valuable input as well:

“Lena is brave enough to do it. If Paul Rudd said to me, ‘I’m willing to be completely naked in the movie,’ I’d do it. If Seth Rogen said he was willing to be naked — he showed his butt in a post-sex scene in Knocked Up — I would use it because it’s more honest. Most people are not comfortable so we don’t go there.”

Both great, informative answers, right? I think so. So let’s all take a deep breath, take off our clothes, and ease on out of our rage spirals, yeah? Yeah.

(Photo: Dennis Van Tine / FutureImage /

Share This Post:
    • elle

      Um….WTF. a rage spiral? Wow, they really overreacted to that question, I agree.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        You were so offended that you literally couldn’t think and had to focus all your energy on just staring at the guy? I don’t know…

    • guest

      here’s the critic’s take on it.

      • elle

        Ooh thanks for sharing that, interesting to read the follow up conversation. I’m even more confused now as to why Judd Appatow got so offended.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Thanks for posting that! Just tweeted at him — wanna make sure he feels our support!

    • Luke Skywalker

      Great article, Alexis! If they’re so sensitive about the issue then
      maybe they should reconsider why they include so much nudity in the
      first place. It’s surprising that the writers who consider themselves so
      bold in creating the show get so offended by a simple, bold question.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Agreed. If it’s such a non-issue, then why is it such an issue? To put it simply / not simply at all. Whatever reason it’s there for, it has inarguably become a focal point of the show, which inherently makes it a distraction.

      • Kelly

        It’s also a matter of that they answered it numberous times. When he did it, as they were entering into their third season, it was redundant and that is partially why it wasn’t well received.

      • Pappy


    • Samantha_Escobar

      I think people do make fun of the nudity on Game Of Thrones. There was an entire South Park episode joking about it (albeit namely about the men being nude). Also, it’s not like the reporter was like HEY GUYS LENA DUNHAMS BOOBS EW AM I RIIIIGHT??? He make not have been as explanatory regarding his reasoning, but it was stupid of the makers to get all riled up.

      • Charlie

        That was solely for male nudity of penises. Which don’t even appear in girls.

    • johnhernandez

      Hey, the poor reporter. Didn’t someone tell him that he wasn’t to mention that “The Emperor has no clothes” or to notice the elephant in the room? The answer to his question was: to MAKE MONEY.

    • Kelly

      I don’t think they overreacted. Nudity in most tv show or movies do it to “titillate” people because sex sells. I actually find the nudity in Games of Thrones to be at weird times when it’s unnecessary and especially since the show is so popular on its own they don’t need to make the attractive girls naked because the show sells itself. Girls is a more realistic show in my opinion so I don’t see the nudity as inappropriate. I thought Jenni, Judd and Lena were appropriate in their responses. And it leads one to wonder if men only think women should get naked when. It’s something they want to see.

      • Charlie


    • LyndseyUselton

      I think that Girls team does not agree about raise the question about their Nudity.

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    • Dearth cadet

      It’s offensive on many counts. He’s puts Lena’s nudity on the spot becuase he thinks she is not worth of being nude, while implying other girls’ actors (ones he finds attractive) are worthy of appearing nude. It’s very offensive, and the response was well deserved.

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