'Camping' cast and crew claim "unlikable" might be the laziest term to describe show's protagonist
As expected the reviews have once again proved that Dunham gives critics some hard time to understand the true grit of her characters.
Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner's 'Camping' premiered on Sunday, October 14, and as the reviews for the show began streaming in, one particular term seems to have attached itself to the protagonist, Kathryn (played by Jennifer Garner)- "unlikable." As a woman in her mid-30's Kathryn is controlling who tries to plan an exciting weekend camping trip for her husband, Walt's (played by David Tennant) 45th birthday. However, things turn out completely wrong when some unexpected guests appear at the site, and Kathryn tries to take the rein in her hands without being asked to.
However, probably using a term as distasteful as "unlikable" might be a little too inappropriate for the protagonist. During a press day for the series, Dunham along with one of the show's stars, Brett Gelman who plays the role of George lashed out at the use of the term "unlikable" claiming that it is probably the laziest way to describe Kathryn. Suffering from chronic pain and a woman who recently underwent hysterectomy, Kathryn's ill-temper is the result of her physical discomfort. She likes to take charge of things because probably that is what makes her feel that she is no less than anyone else.
Gelman claimed to The Hollywood Reporter, "I'm so sick of this word 'unlikable.' I'm so sick of reading it in reviews. I think it's lazy." He further stated that the term "unlikable" is not even a proper term to use in order to describe a character who people may not like. He also mentioned that having flaws clearly does not make a character unredeemable. He said, "When they say, 'unlikable,' I'm like, 'You're half-watching it.'" As the term has been widely used to address the protagonist, Kathryn, Gelman added, "you have Kathryn leading this show, where if she was a man, I think people would think that that character was hilarious. Nobody wants to see a woman onscreen who is a wreck. That is pure, unadulterated systemic misogyny."
Dunham couldn't agree less with Gelman's statement. As the co-creator and actor for 'Girls,' Dunham has been previously exposed to the wrath of critics for unconventional female characters- the ones who do not sit in one place quietly and do not walk around as they have been taught to. Her character, Hannah in 'Girls' received a similar kind of response, and yet the character turned out to be a stamp mark for the millennial 20-something girls. Now that she is putting up yet another unconventional character like Kathryn, she still finds it hard to believe "that we're still having a conversation about unlikable women on television. It doesn't matter if you like our lead character. It truly doesn't matter. What matters is that you relate and you understand," she said.
Dunham further stated that as expected people are finding it difficult to adjust to the fact that a woman can be just as ill-tempered as a man on a TV show. "It just drives me nuts that we can have a Tony Soprano or a Walter White or any of these characters who are wreaking literal havoc on the world around them and killing people, and then when you have a woman who's thorny and complicated, and there's no way to find empathy for her." Dunham who is known to sketch out her characters from her personal experiences claimed, "I find Kathryn to be unbelievably empathetic...If this show can do anything, I hope that it can cut into the idea that women somehow need to convey some essential vulnerability or softness in order to be given a stamp of approval."
'Camping' returns on October 21 on HBO at 10 p.m.