Lena Dunham's Performance on Girls

Performer of the Week: Lena Dunham

THE PERFORMER | Lena Dunham

THE SHOW | Girls

THE EPISODE | “What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” (April 9, 2017)

THE PERFORMANCE | Whether you’ve ever even checked out Girls, chances are you’ve formed an opinion about the HBO dramedy’s creator/star. Maybe you love Dunham for embracing her non-model-skinny body. Maybe you resent her for her advantaged upbringing, or dislike her politics, or can’t abide her all-too-human habit of inserting foot in mouth.

But what’s sometimes lost among the opinions is that, at the end of the day, Dunham is not only a unique actress but a damn fine one, too. Take, for example, her work in Sunday’s installment. In just its first few minutes, she transitioned overwhelmed mom-to-be Hannah from grumpily warning ex-boyfriend Adam against making a sequel to his movie about their rocky relationship to revisiting that very relationship with a sex scene that was at once sweet, tender and awkward.

Later, as Adam planned out their new life together, going so far as to casually mention marriage, Dunham beautifully nailed Hannah’s heartbreaking reaction, reducing her to tears because it was simply too f—ing painful to say aloud “no” to the pretty portrait of domesticity that he painted. In that moment, the Girl once more — and certainly once and for all — earned her stripes as a leading lady.

Feud Judy DavisHONORABLE MENTION | Next time someone tells us to name our poison, we’re going to reply Judy Davis. As FEUD: Bette and Joan gossipmonger Hedda Hopper, she puts the “toxic” in “intoxicating,” and has never done so better than in “And the Winner Is… ” As the columnist hatched a vicious plot to help pal Crawford prevent rival Davis from scoring a record-breaking third Oscar, the actress reveled not only in her character’s cunning but also in her warped sense of righteousness. Did anyone not declare “Big, feathered hats off!” to Davis when Hedda explained with absolute conviction that she hated Bette because she’d never understood that “hypocrisy is the tribute vice must pay to virtue”? The way Davis poured out the line left us as drunk as if we’d been served a martini.

HONORABLE MENTION | Just as Sara Lance captained the Waverider this season, Caity Lotz often serves as Legends of Tomorrow‘s emotional anchor. That was evident in the Season 2 finale, where possession of the Spear of Destiny fell on Sara, triggering a palpably intense moral quandary. In a scene with two Lotzes, steely Sara grilled her future self about failing to use the Spear to end the Legion, though the ladies eventually conceded that it’s because “they” are not strong enough to behold such power. Lotz later gave us a more penitent Sara, when in a “reunion” with sister Laurel, she copped to being “damaged” as the result of her crucibles, and debated whether rewriting reality to avert them is the right move. White Canary is all about her muscle, but Lotz shines just as bright when Sara’s heart is on display.

HONORABLE MENTION | With his very first scene as IFC’s Brockmire, Hank Azaria stepped up to the plate and delivered an uproarious — and yet melancholy? — homerun, as the titular play-by-play legend melted down in a way that would send his career to the showers. Just study Azaria’s whiskey-guzzling, increasingly twitching face as he calmly recaps his discovery of wife Lucy’s orgiastic adventures as a “sexual astronaut,” with no less than neighbor Bob Greenwald (“I hosted his kid’s bar mitzvah!”) among her strap-on’s plowees. Spanning sentiments from sweet (“…gardenias, her favorite flower…”) to spectacularly salty (speculating where in his wife’s body a long ball might land), the six-time Emmy winner served up a showstopper of a sequence that illustrated both the heights of Brockmire’s talent and the depths of his despair.

Which performance knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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46 Comments
  1. Ryan says:

    Not that I didn’t agree with that article, but if you’re going to publish think-pieces about how we shouldn’t support Chris Brown because he abuses women and showed no remorse for it, maybe don’t celebrate a woman who wrote in graphic detail about sexually abusing her own sister and showed no remorse for it in the same week.

    • z says:

      wasnt she 7 when this happened? I never really got to know if ever her sister spoke out about this

    • Coop says:

      Don’t forget falsely accusing a college Republican of rape.

      The only thing I found incredibly enjoyable about election night last year was picturing her utter devastation.

      • Bill says:

        Lol you hit the nail on the head as to why she’s here and not Chris Brown, it’s her politics. If she was Tim Tebow she wouldn’t be mentioned on here ever

        • I think you’re overlooking the small but possibly significant fact that she makes a talked-about television show while Chris Brown, Tim Tebow, and Joe the Plumber do not. Context: look it up in the dictionary.

          • Kel says:

            It is a TV show. We are talking about her mental health status. The fact she is sick in the head

      • Ryan says:

        I didn’t even know about the false rape accusation. Good lord, what a piece of utter garbage she is.

        Regarding her age when the sexual assault was carried out, maybe she was a child, but she was certainly an adult when she wrote the deeply disturbing account of it in which she goes as far as to describe her motivation as the same as those of a predator and details how she engaged in this behavior because she wants her sister to essentially feel helpless without her. Child or not at the time of the molestation – because, let’s be clear, that’s what it is – she still as an adult who should know better, presented this information as if it were some sort of cute anecdote that should be celebrated and showed absolutely no remorse for it when she was called out, just like a certain R&B star we were just deriding last week. In fact, she went as far as to pretend there was absolutely nothing wrong with her actions and the media was the monster for merely presenting her own account of what happened. I cannot wait for the day that we stop acting like she’s anything special and let her fade into obscurity where she should have been long ago.

      • The Voice of Reason says:

        Dunham didn’t falsely accuse a college Republican of rape. She said she had been sexually abused by someone who was a member of the Oberlin College Republicans, and gave him the pseudonym of “Barry.” A guy named Barry who was at Oberlin at the same time as Dunham claimed people would assume she meant him and threatened to sue. She publicly stated that she didn’t mean this Barry, and that she would remove the pseudonym in future editions to avoid the confusion. That in no way means the assault didn’t happen.

    • dan says:

      Seriously, Ryan? Did you not get the memo that pedophilic rape is 100% A-Okay as long as the perp votes democrat? #LenaDunham #WoodyAllen #RomanPolanski #RKelly #BrianSinger #KissObamasAssAndGetAFreePass #BillClinton #BurnTrumpAtTheStake #ListIsEndless

    • rowan77 says:

      Clearly you did read what she actually wrote – you just repeated something you read about it. Don’t comment on things you are clearly and willfully misinformed about.

  2. Joey Padron says:

    Happy Caity Lotz got honorable mention. She did great on the season finale of Legends of Tomrrow. Her scene with Katie was great and emotional.

  3. z says:

    Say what you want about Lena Dunham but she is really good on Girls. She has that sublety on point which I never saw when she guest starred on an OTT show like Scandal.

  4. Michelle says:

    Funny how Lena, an admitted abuser, gets a think piece while Chris Brown gets slammed around here.

    Guess it pays to be an ugly white girl…

    • Wordsmith says:

      Also, a talented actor in a good role… Maybe it’s no excuse, but just saying…

    • DB says:

      Chris Brown beat up a woman when he was in his 20s. Lena was 7 years old. Grow the hell up. If she wasn’t such an outspoken liberal, I doubt anyone would even care about this.

      • dan says:

        Lena’s sister was 7. Lena sexually abused her well into her Teenage years. If she’d been male she’d have lost her show and gone to jail. Being a Democrat and a woman she got a book deal.

        • The Voice of Reason says:

          No, Lena Dunham was 7-years-old, and her sister was 1-year-old. This is exactly what Lena Dunham wrote about the incident that you are calling ‘sexual abuse”:

          “One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.

          My mother came running. ‘Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!’

          My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just got on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.”

          • dan says:

            But wait! There’s more! From the same book.

            As she grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a “motorcycle chick.” Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just “relax on me.” Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.

            I shared a bed with my sister, Grace, until I was seventeen years old. She was afraid to sleep alone and would begin asking me around 5:00 P.M. every day whether she could sleep with me. I put on a big show of saying no, taking pleasure in watching her beg and sulk, but eventually I always relented. Her sticky, muscly little body thrashed beside me every night as I read Anne Sexton, watched reruns of SNL, sometimes even as I slipped my hand into my underwear to figure some stuff out.

            Dunham engaged in sexual conduct with her sister. For ten years. Then wrote about it because she thought people would pat her on her head for her clever and brave writing.

      • Jerri says:

        And if she had been a man who abused his little sister in his younger years. He’d be crucified to hell and back.

  5. Jenna says:

    Hank Azaria was spectacular in such a unique and different performance in Brockmire, I’m super excited for what’s to come with that show.

  6. lululimon says:

    Elizabeth Marvel on Homeland has been fantastic the past 3 or 4 episodes.

    • Kevin Tran says:

      Agreed. Rupert Friend’s performance was great and the moment when his character Peter Quinn is acting like a “monkey”.

  7. Glad to see Caity Lotz get some long overdue love, but nothing about anyone from “13 Reasons Why?”

  8. Ashley says:

    Caity Lotz definitely deserves the honorable mention. She’s good at action scenes with her martial arts background, I think everyone knows that. But she’s just as good at emotional scenes and showing her vulnerable side.

  9. King says:

    Caity Lotz has always been the MVP on Legends of Tomorrow or maybe even the whole Arrowverse. She not only can handle physically demanding scenes but also the emotionally heavy ones! Great job! Hopefully the writers get inspired in giving her even better stories to do as Sara/White Canary.

  10. Patricia says:

    I have to mention Atticus Shaffer. He’s always great but he was outstanding this week . I’ve always loved Brick Heck but somehow Atticus made me love him even more.

  11. Pedro says:

    Lena Dunham is the apex of White and Jewish privilege. A mediocre writer and actress that runs a show no one watches and it goes for six seasons because people like the notion of a naked fat woman on TV, even tough they don’t want to actually watch the very racist show that depicts New York, one of the most diverse cities in America, as a White Wonderland.

    • Ron says:

      Not only is she the epitome of White privilege, she’s also the epitome of White feminism. She can have many seats with that crap. Feminism should be intersectional. I haven’t truly seen where her feminism is intersectional at all. And as long as she continues down her road of White feminism, I don’t need–nor do I want–her marching and protesting beside me. In my opinion, if you’re a White feminist, you’re just as bad as the oppressor–perhaps even worse, because you proclaim to be revolutionary and inclusive, yet use that as a facade to exclude. Needless to say, she is SO problematic.

  12. Claire says:

    Lena Dunham pats herself on the back often enough without your help, I’m sure.

  13. kirads09 says:

    Boy, do I ever need Lena Dunham trigger warnings. Ugh.

    My performer of the week
    Peter Jacobson – Snyder – Colony. Yes, duplicitous as it gets. Out for himself only. Yet, he makes us care about him. This entire season he has been fantastic. But in the finale he was never better. And THAT final scene O__O

  14. T-Dizzle says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Dunham, whether you love her or hate her, acted her ass off in that scene. Her tears and face said it all and I felt like 6 years of this show has lead up to that moment.

    No matter what, at the end of the day we just want to be loved and accepted for who we are, flaws and all.

    Great writing and acting. Also big props to Jemima Kirke and Aidy Bryant solid performances.

  15. Dude says:

    Has everyone from Big Little Lies been nominated? So many great performances this week.

  16. brigitte says:

    Freddie Highmore has been truly heartbreaking as Norman Bates. He should be heaped with acclaim.

    • Angela says:

      The way Norman slipped into Mother when turning away from the kitchen sink at the end of this weeks’ episode, the shift in his facial expression, was so seamlessly done and so chilling. Highmore is amazing with those subtleties in the character. .

  17. Cate says:

    Happy to see Caity Lotz get a mention. She has been a big reason why season 2 of Legends has been so good and was fantastic once again this week. Sara Lance is just an awesome character whether kicking butt, seducing famous women in history or taking on the role and responsibilities of being captain. Three huge cheers!

  18. Dj says:

    The fact that Katherine Langford, Dylan Minette, or Kate Walsh didn’t get a mention for 13 reasons why is a travesty. Dunham stinks.

  19. ChrisGa says:

    My honorable mention would be Riverdale’s Mädchen Amick, who’s managed to take an initially one-note character in Alice and add several, human layers to her over the course of the last few episodes.

  20. Hazel says:

    Allison Janney in Mom was phenomenal this week. I was very surprised not to see her listed here.