But cloistered though it may be, “Girls” is a symptom, not the disease. The debate over the show is related to, but not a full picture of, greater debates about race and television, about representation and power, and about reception. The vigor of the response has far more to do with what’s not shown on television as a whole than what is or is not shown on “Girls,” and also with who’s chosen to pay attention.
Television is nowhere near diverse enough — not in its actors, its writers or its show runners. The problems identified by critics of “Girls” are systemic, traceable to network executives who greenlight shows and shoot down plenty of others. It’s at that level that diversity stands or falls.
And “Girls” is hardly alone in its whiteness. Far more popular shows like “Two and a Half Men” or “How I Met Your Mother” blithely exist in a world that rarely considers race. They’re less scrutinized, because unlike the Brooklyn-bohemian demimonde of “Girls,” the worlds of those shows are ones that writers and critics — the sort who both adore and have taken offense at “Girls” — have little desire to be a part of. White-dominant television has almost always been the norm. Why would “Girls” be any different?