Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
From left, Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham, Allison Williams and Zosia Mamet attend the premiere of HBO's "Girls" third season on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Scott D. Pierce: Was ‘Girls’ fight part of plan to juice ratings?
First Published Jan 30 2014 12:55 pm • Last Updated Jan 30 2014 05:00 pm

It’s entirely possible that Judd Apatow is a whole lot smarter than I gave him credit for. That there was method to his over-the-top mad reaction to an awkwardly worded question that produced a media sensation.

I’ve avoided writing about the contretemps between the "Girls" executive producer and a journalist at the Television Critics Association press tour on Jan. 9 because, well, I’m unconvinced that anyone cares about how TV critics do their jobs.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But I can’t help but wonder if what happened during a news conference to promote the little-watched HBO show was something the "Girls" producers had in mind long before the question was asked.

The question was asked quite clumsily of series creator/writer/star Lena Dunham: "I don’t get the purpose of all of the nudity on the show, by you particularly. And I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they are doing it. They are doing it to be salacious and, you know, titillate people. And your character is often naked just at random times for no reason."

Dunham replied, "It’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive," adding, "If you are not into me, that’s your problem, and you are going to have to kind of work that out with whatever professionals you’ve hired."

A rude answer to a clumsy question. And it was Dunham who raised the issue of her attractiveness, not the critic.

We should have just moved on. But Apatow went after the critic. "Do you have a girlfriend?" he asked. "Does she like you?"

It got worse. It was unnecessarily nasty. It was like killing a gnat with a bazooka.

Several questions later, executive producer Jenni Konner brought it back front and center when she said she "literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy that I literally could not hear. … I just was looking at him and going into this rage — this idea that you would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much."

Read the question again. Does that seem a gross mischaracterization of what was asked?

story continues below
story continues below

It might be that Apatow, Dunham and Konner were primed to overreact because of frequent attacks on social media. Dunham praised Apatow for his approach to "trolls," which is, in his words, "If someone says something really nasty, I will … retweet every nasty, dumb thing they’ve ever said to a million people, and then the community takes care of them."

Or just maybe the overreaction and resulting controversy were a way to get people to write about a show few were writing about. If so, it worked. The Season 3 premiere Jan. 12 drew 1.1 million viewers. That’s very low, but it was 28 percent more than the Season 2 premiere.

If it was a plan, it was genius.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.