kareem abdul jabbar girs lena dunham

Did you ever think you could write a pretty good media critique about Lena Dunham’s critically-acclaimed, award-winning HBO show Girls if only you had the time and desire and florid prose? Well, today (or should I saw last Friday) was your lucky day. Your dad’s favorite former Los Angeles Laker, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it for you.

For those unaware, Abdul-Jabbar is an intelligent and immensely talented guy. He’s written books AND fought Bruce Lee. Part of me would still kind of like to be him whenever I grow up. But there was a bit of a “Huh?” sounding, cognitive dissonance when reading his critique. Not because you wouldn’t expect Abdul-Jabbar to be so smart and thoughtful (he most certainly is) but that you have to believe that when he’s not being a sports ambassador and inspirational speaker he’s watching old episodes of My So-Called Life and Wonderfalls.

Still though, the points he made!

On Girls and that two-episode-stand with a sexual Black Republican token played by Donald Glover!

This season that white ghetto was breached by a black character who is introduced as some jungle fever lover, with just enough screen time to have sex and mutter a couple of lines about wanting more of a relationship. A black dildo would have sufficed and cost less.

On the arrogance (or privilege) of thinking it’s cool to be an insufferable asshole because your insufferableness makes you “adorable” and “endearing,” rather than “self-involved” and “ignorant.

We’re supposed to find these girls somehow charming because of their flawed characters. Their intense self-involvement is meant to be cute and it can be … at times. But not enough to overcome our impatience with their inability to have any personal insight. They’re all educated but fatally ignorant.

On how diversity only counts if it makes sense, and tokenism is lazy writing:

I don’t believe that people of color, sexual preference, or gender need to be shaken indiscriminately into every series like some sort of exotic seasoning. If the story calls for a black character, great. A story about a black neighborhood doesn’t necessarily need white characters just to balance the racial profile. But this really seemed like an effort was made to add some color — and it came across as forced.

And (my favorite part) on the lofty expectations people have put on a sitcom:

It’s unfair to put so much of a burden on what is basically a standard sitcom. Some of the fault lies with the audience’s desperation for a generational voice that they turn to a sitcom to express it rather than great literature.

Oooooo. Burn, America. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just told you to go read a book.

What did you think of a basketball great taking a turn at dissecting Dunham’s singular voice of a particular generation living in Williamsburg? Does he have a point or are you still stuck on “Wait? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar watches ‘Girls?’”

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