Although entertaining, with all the controversy surrounding the new HBO Series Girls and its noticeably whitewashed cast, it makes me wonder what the flip of the script would look like if the show is recast to have a more multicultural character stock that could make room to explore the varied backdrops and cultural differences of women in America. Most of us agree that what’s currently being portrayed definitely doesn’t give voice to the millions of girls who simply can’t identify with these characters or the show’s writing and how these women conveniently exist in a color free bubble in one of the most diverse cities in the world. Moreover, I think what is jabbing at audiences is the fact that the show is just a rehash of HBO’s hit series Sex In the City meets 2 Broke Girls, doing nothing to take the opportunity to bring a new aura to the air that encompasses something for everyone … or at least something new to be shared.
If you don’t know, Girls is about an aspiring writer whose been recently cut off from her rich parents, and along with her trusty three friends enjoys the ups and downs of living on the Upper East Side of New York City. Girls was created by its star Lena Dunham, along with collaborative assistance from famed producer and writer Judd Apatow. Apatow has shared that he was drawn to the show because of Dunham’s imagination and feels the series will provide men with an insight into “realistic females.” But when you think about it, how realistic can the show get when the writers haven’t even created a realistic and diverse character stock, nor are they being true the world surrounding these women?
If the show was repitched to the execs and a new casting director was hired to wrangle in a few first look actresses to fill the roles of a group of gal pals living and surviving in the big city of New York, what would these women look like for you? What would the episodic season breathe as far as the direction of the show and the tone you’re hoping they’ll go after? What if that casting director was you?
For me, if the opportunity fell into my lap, I’ll first start out by stating that I wouldn’t push for an all black cast for my version of “Girls,” because it’s not a true reflection of the personal relationships in my life. As a screenwriter, just like the show’s creator, I understand that in order to tell a good story or deliver something new to a script I can’t keep people around me who are the same as me, even if I might write something that has an all white cast or an all black cast in it, etc. Most writers have a plethora of friends from all walks of life and all color schemes. We don’t seek relationships based on the color of skin, we seek relationships based on the energy, the personality, and the differences in the people we meet. It makes for better writing because most often, the characters in our scripts are a reflection of the people around us. For the star of this show to only pal around with or see three other white women in her daily going’s on, it’s hard to see this as realistic because no good story was ever built from knowing one perspective; writers are worldly.
Even if our closest circle is of our own race, we definitely keep a collection of other people around to inspire us to see story and not color. I also wouldn’t go the Hollywood token route either and create a show that had one black person (me), one asian person, one white person, and one hispanic person. That’s reaching too far to attempt to please the masses while focusing on color rather than focusing on the story in itself. Ultimately, I’d cast the series by seeking actresses to fill the personalities within the characters, and not denote color in my casting call. That’s not an unheard of casting method, and is even something that my actress friend, Faith Udeh, practices when she shows up to read for roles no matter what color of the character the director is seeking.
If we’re looking for realism, then let’s be real. In real life, we don’t go out seeking friendships with people in a stereotypical way and say to ourselves “I need a black friend who I can talk to about my problems to play the role of my best friend in my life, and then I’ll need a white friend who can give me good financial advice to help me clean up my credit—“ and you know the rest. Who we choose to join our circle ends up falling into place because they belong there, no matter what color they are, and sometimes those people don’t look like we do in the most obvious ways. My version of “Girls” is open to interpretation, because I’m seeking talented actresses, and not color based characters.
So who would you cast in your version of “Girls”?