Girls showrunner and actress Lena Dunham sounded off on everything from sexism in late-night TV to why she won’t cover her vagina on the set of her HBO show in a wide-ranging Hollywood Reporter roundtable discussion with some of the most prominent female comedians currently working in television.
THR sat down with Dunham, Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt), Kate McKinnon (SNL), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish), and Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer) for a discussion about comedy, sexism, social media trolling, and the presidential prospects of Hillary Clinton.
The conversation turned graphic early, when the magazine asked the women if there was anything they wouldn’t do for a laugh.
“I would never f*** someone,” Dunham said.
While Ellie Kemper said she had yet to film a sex scene, Dunham told the other comedians she’s not shy when it comes to being naked on set.
“I stopped wearing the nude patch after the first season of Girls,” Dunham said. “There’s not one guy who works on that show who hasn’t seen the inside of my vagina. This patch – you glue it over your vagina. It gets sweaty and always falls off. My male co-stars, at the end of the day, don’t care.”
When asked how they feel about their shows’ responsibility to fight racism and sexism, the comediennes demurred.
“I don’t believe it’s an issue of hard-core racism [in Hollywood],” Rodriguez answered.
“We’re quick to vilify people instead of acknowledging we all have these huge blind spots,” added Ross, while Schumer put it down to “ignorance” rather than racism or sexism.
“There was a lot of dialogue about race when Girls started,” Dunham said. “I’d been thinking so much about representing weirdo, chubby girls and strange half-Jews that I had forgotten that there was an entire world of women being underserved.”
Dunham also criticized the comedy community for being overly “defensive.”
“People are unwilling to learn,” she explained. “There was a big issue a few years ago with Daniel Tosh and rape jokes. But there couldn’t be a civil conversation about it within the comedy community. I’m a sexual-assault survivor, so I would love to sit down and have a totally nonjudgmental conversation with a male comedian who makes rape jokes. But there isn’t room for that.”
The actress also took aim at TV networks for refusing to take chances with late-night talk shows.
The idea of risk-taking is terrifying. I love Stephen Colbert, he’s a genius, but CBS [couldn’t] take the David Letterman slot and hire somebody who represented even an ounce of diversity? Also, when they got James Corden, another guy I love, there was this joke, “We’ve run out of white men here, we have to import them from England.” There is no shortage of established women who’ve been on the comedy circuit for years. It bums me out that someone like Kathy Griffin was relegated to Fashion Police.
When asked why, Schumer said it’s because “people hate women.”
“I don’t think they want to hear a woman talk for too long,” Schumer said. “A lot of people project their mom yelling at them. My [career] has been about tricking people into listening. I’m not saying all men hate women, but there’s such an aggression.”
“The way women are spoken to in social media is truly shocking,” added Dunham, telling the other women she gets “rape threats” and “death threats” on Twitter. “It’s how you imagine people screaming at prisoners in Guantanamo.”
When I get comments like, “How did she wind up on the cover of a magazine? She’s hideous,” I’m like, “I may not have a perfect body, but I do have a really nice face. “I’d love to see a hideous woman on the cover of a magazine. It doesn’t happen.
Schumer responded by jokingly offering to give Dunham oral sex: “Is that OK? When this is over. Right after?”
“I feel the same way about you,” Dunham answered.
Check out more of the Hollywood Reporter‘s roundtable discussion here.