everyone who has eyes or ears knows who Lena Dunham is. most of us know her as Hannah Horvath from Girls; we’ve all seen her boobs. we’ve all become immune to her annoying voice. we’ve all rooted for her, but also sort of hated her. we’ve all felt a little better about our sex lives after watching hers. most of us are excited by her because she is one of the few female characters who have been given an identity that is real; she is multifaceted; lame, adorable, triumphant, and also a huge failure. she cries and makes mistakes and has a body that does weird things and she suffers from probably a couple of different mental health issues. point in case, she is pretty much just like the average human.
everyone knows who Lena is, everyone knows who Hannah is, but does everyone know who Aura is? maybe not.
just as Dunham started to make a stir in pop culture, and before i had actually ever seen an episode of Girls, i stumbled upon Dunham’s first feature film, Tiny Furniture, done in 2010.
i was browsing through netflix one lazy evening, and i came across the poster for Tiny Furniture, which, i’m not going to lie, caught my attention for only one reason: i thought Dunham was actually Ja’mie King from Summer Heights High. this obviously excited me, so i clicked on it. (sorry for thinking you were a male dressed as a teenage girl played by a man in his late 30’s, lena). immediately i was sucked into this little world that Dunham had created. Maybe i became so engrossed in it (that i watched it three times back-to-back) because it’s similar to Dunham’s actual world? in the film, her real mom plays her mom, her real sister plays her sister, and her real best friend, Girls’s Jemima Kirke, plays her old-but-new best friend. by creating something that seems to be authentic, Dunham lets the audience embody the avatar-like characters; we can see ourselves reflected in the actions of Aura and her peers, because they aren’t experiencing things that are far-fetched or made up.
if you’ve already seen Girls, Tiny Furniture won’t come as a surprise to you. Aura is just a long-haired Hannah; she is naked, complains a lot, can be caught lacking a backbone, is hilarious and sweet, and reminds us that finding out who we are is really freaky and uncomfortable and magical.
Dunham uses her signature dialogue- quippy, curious, somehow aged/somehow youthful- and she touches on an issue that a lot of today’s youth know: feeling lost when entering the “real world” for the first time; in Aura’s case, after finishing her undergrad with a liberal arts degree.
not only can this film be seen as the beginning of Dunham’s career, but it can also sort of be seen as the beginning of a promising change in pop culture, one where females are three dimensional and exposed for what they really are: human.