Lena Dunham & Girls Showrunner Don't Think That Controversial Scene Was Rape

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
As Girls edges towards its final days on the air, the show's past controversies, such its lack of diversity, are being revisited in farewell pieces about the show.

In a new oral history of the series with The Hollywood Reporter, creator Lena Dunham and showrunner Jenni Konner staunchly defend a season 2 scene that sparked outrage at the time for its muddled portrayal of sexual consent.

The scene in question is the fourth episode of the second season, in which Hannah's (Dunham) ex Adam (Adam Driver) forcibly has sex with new girlfriend Natalia (guest star Shiri Appleby). The incident takes place the night that recovering alcoholic Adam falls off the wagon. He asks a reluctant Natalia to crawl to him on all fours, performs oral sex on her after she clearly says "no," and masturbates on her against her wishes.

At best, the scene is an example of how not to approach sexual consent with your S.O. At worst, it's sexual assault. But Konner completely disagrees.

"When people watched that scene and said, 'Is that rape?' I was surprised. To me, that was a fully consensual bummer of a sex scene," she told THR. Appleby feels the same. "I never saw it as rape. That was never a conversation," the UnReal star said. "I remember one of the executives on set while we were prepping said, 'Are you really comfortable doing this?' And in my head I was like, 'What part is he referring to?'"

According to Dunham, that encounter — like much of the show — is based on her own experience. "[At] that point I hadn't publicly talked about being sexually assaulted." (Dunham opened up about her own sexual assault in Not That Kind Of Girl in September 2014; the episode aired in March 2013.)
Dunham continued, "But my thought when people had that reaction was like, "Oh, I've been raped, and that's not what it feels like...That scene was very much based on an interaction I had with someone whom I continued to feel very loving feelings toward for a long time after that because human sexuality is so complicated."

What Dunham fails to realize is that her experience of rape does not speak for the experiences of all assault survivors. And yes, Lena, human sexuality is very complicated. But the fact that Girls failed to properly and responsibly depict sexual consent isn't.
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