Dunham, Fey, Kaling share stories, advice in autobiographies
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 21:11
In early October, a book of essays authored by Lena Dunham, star of HBO’s “Girls,” sold for $3.5 million to the publishing company Random House.
With the success of the book, titled “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned,” Dunham joins the company of comedians Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey, two female authors who have also had success in the sales of their respective books.
Fey’s “Bossypants” peaked on the New York Times Best Seller List in 2011 and spent 27 weeks on the New York Times hardcover non-fiction list, while Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” spent three weeks on the New York Times hardcover non-fiction list.
Communication professor Juliet Dee says Fey’s comedic autobiography “Bossypants” gives readers humorous anecdotes about Fey’s life and career from a feminist viewpoint. Dee attributes this success largely to her role as Liz Lemon on NBC’s “30 Rock,” as well as her satirical take on Sarah Palin in NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
“Her brand of humor is certainly from a feminist point of view,” Dee says. “If you would go back 100 or 200 years ago, you might find women generally deferring to men and in the year 2012, Tina Fey definitely does not do that.”
She says she is not surprised that Fey’s book debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times Best Seller List while Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s book “A Shore Thing” debuted at No. 24. Dee says she attributes Polizzi’s lack of intelligence to the failure of her book.
Dee says Fey is a lot smarter than Snooki, which influences the success of their respective books and how readers receive them.
“[When] you have somebody who’s a lot smarter, writes something that’s funnier and more interesting, it’s going to be higher on the New York Times Best Seller List,” Dee says.
Sophomore Michele McNelis says she read Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” after she heard about it on Twitter. She says she initially thought Kaling’s book would be a stand-up act in book form but was surprised to find out about Kaling’s education at Dartmouth College and how hard she worked for roles on “The Office” and her new show “The Mindy Project”.
She says that even though she is not exactly a fan of Dunham’s, she would like to read her book to know more about her creative process since so many people are talking about Dunham and her show “Girls”.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Girls,” which was recently nominated for five Emmys, is a “dramedy” that follows a group of twenty-somethings as they navigate their lives in New York City as young adults in a post-graduate life. Dunham writes and acts in the show, which is based on her own experiences in the city.
Junior Bria Schirripa says she watches the 26-year-old’s show because she can relate to many of the character’s experiences the on each episode. She says she appreciates Dunham’s witty, quirky writing and her honest sense of humor.
“As someone who’s in college, I can relate to all of them in some way because they are dealing with anxieties of finding a job and living situations,” she says. “I feel like they touch on real problems [that people who are] 22, 23, 24 years old actually experience and they’re not sugar coating what post-grad life is like.”
Sophomore Lindsay Saienni says Dunham is a role model for women in their early 20s because she has reached success at a young age and she realistically portrays what life is like for women in that stage of their lives.
“She shows girls that they can do whatever they want,” Saienni says.
McNelis says she has mixed feelings about Dunham’s show because she does not believe that the characters are always portrayed well, noting an episode in which Dunham’s character Hannah dismisses an incident of sexual abuse.
McNelis says she is not sure whether Dunham deserves the amount of attention she is getting for her work because she creates poor role models in the show, but she respects that Dunham promotes a healthy female body image on “Girls.”
“I don’t strive to be like Kim Kardashian and I don’t think the characters on the show strive to be like that either so I wouldn’t necessarily say that they’re 100 percent comfortable with their bodies,” she says. “It’s nice that they have that sort of portrayal.”
While the release date is yet to be announced, Saienni says she thinks it’s fair for people to get excited about Dunham’s upcoming biography. She says she thinks Dunham is getting paid the right amount of money to write about her life and experiences.
“I think she’s smart, funny and she’s talented,” she says.” “She’s working for what she wants and she’s putting herself out there.”