The Eloise of HBO

by susanedotcohen


I watch Girls. I do not always agree with or relate to the characters choices, but I enjoy watching the show evolve. I respect Lena Dunham for the risks she is taking and look forward to where each new episode takes me. However, when it comes to Lena Dunham outside of the show, I’m not sure how I feel about her. I want to like Lena because I find her show interesting. However, in spite of watching Girls, I feel Lena always takes it one step too far in her tweets and comments. She deconstructs the intelligence and humor I see in her by going that far. I understand she wants to take it that step further because that is part of her public persona, but I just wish she stopped a sentence or even a word sooner. I see the strengths in her and I feel she could do more by saying less.

As much as I want her to stop and keep it classier, she is not going to stop so I need to separate Lena’s work from Lena. However, this separation is difficult because the two are intertwined. I always knew Lena and her work were connected, but it was only last week that I realized how deeply intertwined she is with her work. I made this discovery after I heard she incorporated Eloise into her Purim spiel at the Jewish Museum’s Purim Ball.

The truth is that Lena created Hannah like Eloise. Hannah speaks like Eloise and behaves like Eloise. Like Eloise, she watches, describes, and interacts with the world around her and does so in a simplistic and at times cadenced manner. Hannah is never producing ridiculously complex sentences and does not stray too far from her egocentric perspective. Hannah sees the world as Hannah does and Eloise sees the world as Eloise does. Obviously the rhythm and subject matter differ between Hannah and Eloise, but the differences between them do not take away from their connections. Hannah is the Eloise of HBO.

If Hannah is designed after Eloise and Hannah is a manifestation of Lena then Lena herself is Eloise. Lena is becoming the Eloise of my generation. She definitely deserves to be HBO’s Eloise, but I’m not sure about her role as my generation’s Eloise.  She has been given a platform to watch, describe, and interact with the world solely because of her film Tiny Furniture and two seasons of Girls. Yes, the work speaks for itself but in the scheme of things, how much has she really contributed? Are we giving her too much credit? Am I even giving her too much credit by writing this piece about her?

I have no answers, but I feel that seeing Lena as Eloise helps me understand where she is coming from when she tweets and speaks. Lena sees and interacts with the world in a literal manner just like Eloise. If I start to understand that she is not that complex then I can stop hoping that she stops taking it a step too far.