If Lena Dunham and I were in a Facebook relationship our status would be "It's Complicated".
Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy Lena Dunham. I've watched every episode of Girls, I've seen Tiny Furniture twice, and I finished reading her book about 40 seconds before I started writing this. I dig her work. I dig her style. I straight up just dig her. She is a rad chick with a strong voice and that is NEVER a bad thing in my books. I also totally think you should go read her book, even if you're not a huge fan, it's a sick read. It's like hanging out with your older sister after she's had a couple glasses of wine, it's like super dope and comfortable but she also says more than you thought she would so you learn something too!
Here's where things get a little rocky in our love story.
Lena has also been literally everywhere in the last month (book tours will do that, am I right B.J. Novak?) and her media presence has brought to light a strange phenomenon in my life. People assume I am Lena Dunham. Spoiler alert: I am not. I mean I totally get it, I have short hair, I write personal essays about my life and generation, I have a similar narrative voice (the "oh we're just a couplea gals casually talkin' bout blow jobs" vibe) I sometimes say the things that people in my life just really wish I wouldn't, and most importantly I have an ass that won't quit! The similarities are endless! In the last two weeks I have been told that I "literally" am Lena Dunham by almost a dozen people. Here's a small sampling of occasions when this happened.
1. A social setting. I'm an actor so I socialize with a lot of actors. On this particular evening the group broke down to about 40% actor dudes and about 59% Hedda Gabler's (seriously beautiful and talented dramatic actresses). And 1% Me. I am doing some of my cah-lassic HJ group bits. The people love it! I'm getting laughs! I'm on top of the world! This is when I get a hand on the shoulder from one of these stunning women and she really sweetly says, "You are so funny! Seriously, you're hilarious! You are SO Lena Dunham right now! And I totally mean that in a good way" Immediately all of the air is sucked out of the room for me.
I laugh along for a little while longer than I excuse myself to rage alone outside "Fuck her! She thinks I'm fat, and ugly, and dorky, and crazy, and weird! " I skipped all the things that I love about Lena Dunham and focused only on the fact that I was less attractive than the girl who said that to me. THAT WAS SUPER INAPPROPRIATE OF ME. If she had said "You are so funny! You are SO Louis C.K. right now!" I would've been overwhelmed with joy. I woulda been like " That person thinks I am so fucking funny that I could sell out Madison Square Gardens a couple of times and be one of the highest grossing comics ever!" I never in a million years would have thought "Oh fuck her! She thinks I'm a fat, red-headed divorced man in my forties!" But that's not what I did when I was told I was similar to a brilliant and successful woman.
I have been so brainwashed by the "Isn't it great that they let uggos on TV now!" mentality that my brain jumped over all the good stuff and focused on all the negative stuff. It really sucks that even I, a creative, feminist, educated woman in the arts, got so wrapped up in someone else's conversation of what is attractive and what is not that I missed a huge compliment from another creative, feminist, educated woman in the arts. That night I cried because I felt like a bad feminist, and a bad member of the creative community, and most importantly a bad woman.
2. I am in the house of a woman I really admire. She's a writer. Like a real one! Who gets paid! This chick is so smart, and funny, and quick that even though I have known her since I was 15 sometimes I still get nervous having casual conversations with her. This bitch is GOOD. I think I like her so much and look up to her so much because she's obviously a dork. I really love seeing cool 40-year-olds who held on to the dorkiness of their teens and twenties to find out that you can really capitalize on your weirdness and make a living and have a family and be generally so dope. It gives me hope.
ANYWAYS, I am in her house and I am wearing a shorts romper onesie (that's all the set-up you really need the rest was just gravy because I have a serious crush on this lady!) when she says the most amazing sentence. "I like this, you look adorable, very Hannah Horvath!" (If you live under a rock, or were in a coma for all of 2012 that is Lena Dunham's character from Girls!) I was elated.
Similarly, one of my older sister's cool friends who I've always looked up to recently tweeted me that I reminded her of Lena Dunham and it felt like that thing when one of your older sister's cool friends says something awesome to you! It was like I had been chosen by a secret society of dorky comedy nerd girls to come and join them after lights out to watch old SNL episodes. These passing remarks seemed more like a "ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF US!" chant then anything else. That night I didn't cry. I wrote! 'Cause I was so happy that I was a part of this sisterhood of cool goofy ladies, and that there was a place for us, and that place is growing and that's really all thanks to L.D
3. I'm at a bar. With a dude. This dude has no interest in comedy, or performing, or creative endeavors, just a dude I was okay with wasting some time with for a bit. We are chilling, having some drinks, pleasant but trite conversation, the usual. Then, we reach a point in our evening where he opens the Lena Dunham shaped Pandora's box. He starts with "you must be so psyched that Lena Dunham is so famous now!" confused but curious I follow him in to it and nod along. "'I mean for your comedy and stuff, 'Cause like people love her so they must love you, like your "brand" is really popular now!" I didn't want to go down another rage spiral so I questioned him on it. "It's just that now that she's popular other people get what you're doing, your style is like considered hot right now"
It sucks, because I agree. She has (and continues to) sort of changed the game on how young women can talk about their bodies, and their lives, and their problems. But my general reaction to this sentiment is UGH because we had to wait for someone to do that. I can be funny and popular now because the general public has a frame of reference for me. Other people can now qualify how funny or attractive I am based on another human being's life. That makes me feel icky and I don't really know why. I guess that's just how the arts work? Or maybe how arts for women works? One fierce broad has to damn the man and then we can all flood in? I don't really know but it kinda hurt me inside. If you do know, throw me a bone plz!
See what I mean. It's complicated. It's an emotional roller coaster with me and Lena. I want to be her. I want to reject her. I'm mad at the way other people talk about her. I'm disturbed at the way I think about her. I'm pissed that people want her to fail. I'm jealous that she refuses to fail. I want to thank her. I want to ruin her. I want to be her best friend. This is by far the most feels I've ever had about a woman that I've never even met.
I don't know man. Help me Obi-Wan-Dunham! You're my only hope.
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