Lena Dunham defends nude scenes in Girls

Girls creator, executive producer and actor Lena Dunham (left) and co-star Jemima Kirke.

Girls creator, executive producer and actor Lena Dunham (left) and co-star Jemima Kirke. Photo: Reuters

How much nude is too much nude? And when, exactly, can you tackle the delicate subject of female nudity on television?

Those questions set the stage for an explosive clash in Los Angeles yesterday - between a journalist and the Girls actress/producer Lena Dunham, who was asked why she appeared nude so frequently on the HBO show.

If you are not into me, that's your problem. 

"I don't get the purpose of all the nudity on the show — by you particularly," journalist Tim Molloy of The Wrap asked Dunham at a television industry event.

Executive producers of HBO's <i>Girls</i> Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham.

Executive producers of HBO's Girls Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham. Photo: Reuters

The question prompted an audible reaction from other journalists in the room.


Dunham replied by saying it was "a realistic expression of what it's like to be alive".

"I totally get it. If you are not into me, that's your problem and you're going to have to work that out with professionals," Dunham continued.

Dunham was appearing on a panel with the show's cast and producers at the US Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour in Los Angeles.

The tour is staged twice a year for US studios and networks to showcase programming to journalists in America.

When the question was asked, there was an audible reaction in the room.

It later prompted an accusation of misogyny from the two executive producers of Girls, Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner.

Konner was so incensed she cut across another question, to say: "I literally was spacing out because I'm in such a rage spiral about that guy."

She continued: "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."

Apatow later spoke to the journalist, describing it was "a very clumsily stated question that's offensive on its face".

He continued: "It's sexist and offensive, it's misogynistic."

For an Australian audience, the debate may seem a little passé.

Nudity on television here, even on network television, was a taboo shattered in the 1970s on television programs such as Number 96 and The Box.

But American television is produced in a far more conservative environment, though most cable dramas have wider creative freedoms than network dramas.

Speaking on the panel, Apatow said nudity on the show was simply a function of the characters lives.

He applauded Dunham's courage in embracing it.

"Lena is brave enough to do it," Apatow said. "Most people are not comfortable so we don't go there."

Molloy defended himself online later, saying they had misunderstood his intentions and his full question - which was lost to the audible reaction in the room.

His full question was: "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 say no one complains about the nudity on Game of Thrones, but I get why they're doing it. They're doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason."

"If [Lena] Dunham wants to be naked, great. I'm not offended by it," Molloy said later. "I don't like it or not like it. I just don't get the artistic reason for it, and want to understand it, because I'm a TV critic."