'Camping' co-creator Lena Dunham loves to write about "complicated women"
Dunham herself plays roles of women who are off the track from the conventional and naturally the actress/director creates characters who have complicated lives.
Lena Dunham goes into everything thinking that no one will like her work, and quite naturally the former 'Girls' co-creator did not receive many positive reviews for her latest show 'Camping' which premiered on HBO on October 14. However, that is not something that could interrupt Dunham in her quest to create some unconventional characters who are just as real (might be rare) as the conventional ones.
Starring Jennifer Garner and David Tennant, 'Camping' follows the story of a group of couples who are gathered by the obsessively controlling Kathryn (Garner), who has planned the weekend camping trip for her husband Walt's (Tennant) 45th birthday. After the release of the first episode, one thing that has been clear is that Dunham has yet again created a protagonist with whom it is difficult to relate to and who does not fit into the conventional pattern of lead characters. However, that might just be the very charm of the show and Dunham has mentioned, during an interview with IndieWire that even when she had created Hannah (the protagonist for 'Girls') people had a tough time getting used to her.
"When we created ‘Girls,’ when we brought Hannah into the world, people weren’t used to seeing a selfish, crabby, entitled 24-year-old. Now, there’s like an older woman hitting middle age whose entire concern is about the insides of her body, exercising the only control that she has over her family. To me, that’s a really realistic depiction — so to see that people don’t connect to it is really interesting. Like maybe we pushed too far across the line. But I would rather push too far across the line, then not enough.” Dunham herself has been playing some characters who are far away from the glittering spectrum of mainstream film.
Soon to star in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming movie, 'Once upon a Time in Hollywood,' Dunham clearly stated that she loves to play "f*****g crazy women." Of which she said: "That’s the most interesting thing to me. I like to play crazy women." Speaking of which, almost every single women character in 'Camping' seem pretty much cracked up in the head. Garner's Kathryn is the uptight, anxious woman who rides around everyone else to keep things proper and perfect. Juliette Lewis' character - Jandice - is the complete opposite of Kathryn. A Reiki healer, a DJ, and a part-time figure sketching model, Jandice is everything that Kathryn is not, and the free-spirited soul is like an ink blot on the 'Camping' canvas.
On the other hand, other characters like Nina-Joy, Margaret, and Nina-Joy's adopted teenage daughter are comparatively subtler in the exhibition, but this very subtlety about them makes them just as annoying as Kathryn and Jandice. However, it cannot be denied that none of these women seem fictitious. They are people who actually exist, and probably every viewer has come across one such person at least once. That is the very charm of 'Camping,' it is real enough to be a slap on the face. Moreover, the depiction of Kathryn is even more real since Dunham has created the character out of her own physical ailments.
Kathryn suffers from the same chronic illness as Dunham, and the character has apparently undergone a hysterectomy just as her creator. Dunham had included these very details right at the beginning. She explained, "When we started writing, I was looking down the barrel of getting my hysterectomy. And then when we shot the show a few months after, I did. So it was a huge part of the story that we were telling. I only know how to write from a place of experience, and that’s what my experiences look like." As a true writer, Dunham has created a character out of herself and at the same time, the co-creator has managed to make fun of her own problems through the character.
"I was making fun of it. Because there’s a part of you where you get so caught up in your own bullshit, that you just can’t even see outside of it. Pain makes your world very small, and so I wanted to talk about that, especially for women who are used to not being believed." Kathryn's quivering gait is the result of her chronic pain, and Dunham seems to have included it deliberately in her character's many traits to establish the point that behind the controlling attitude lies an immense amount of physical pain. 'Camping' airs every Sunday, 10 p.m. on HBO.