Why Lisa Kron, and Not Lena Dunham, is the Voice of My Generation

Lisa Kron: 54 years old, lesbian, from Michigan

Lena Dunham: 29 years old, hetero, from New York

Amanda DeLalla: 22 years old, hetero, from New York

In case you completely missed the sub-heading of this entire blog, I am Amanda DeLalla. Now all three of the aforementioned women are writers, artists, and thinkers. As such, they all have something profound to say about life…hopefully. Now, strictly by the brief descriptions I provided, which pair do you think would have the most in common? Spoiler alert: it’s not the latter two.

Simply put: I don’t think Lena Dunham is able to fully bottle the actual experience of Generation Y. That’s not to say she doesn’t give a valiant effort; in her claim to fame, the HBO television show Girls, she does her best to write scenarios that are in-your-face and unapologetic. And in that regard, I’d say she succeeds. However, I believe it is those same qualities that undermine her mission too. Because the series got such attention in its early days- it is now entering its final season- it appeared to depict the existential and sexual struggles of my generation for the masses. In retrospect, or at least from my angle, these depictions are not entirely accurate. Just because we’re all exploring the world in our twentysomething years does not mean that we’re also not working hard or don’t care much for big societal issues. In fact, the majority of my friends are politically active and embracing their aim to do meaningful things. Maybe Dunham has seen different things than I have…but she seems to be selling our demographic short. Unrelated: I am also slightly taken aback by some of the dirty content on Girls, as you’ve probably guessed. Alison Williams’ notorious anal sex scene comes to mind. In this regard, all I can comment is that sometimes less is more.

Now, I can only speak for myself when I say that Lisa Kron “gets” the awkwardness that stems from coming-of-age stories. Let’s look at her most famous work: the Broadway musical Fun Home. In it, we watch the character of Alison “soar above” a dysfunctional upbringing as well as her own insecurities. And we see it step-by-step. The amazing thing about Kron is that she put into words what many people struggle to express on their own. That feeling of kinship you have with someone you’ve never met? Listen to “Ring of Keys.” The flood of conflicting emotions that accompany first love? Try “Changing My Major.” And those things you wish you could say to a parent who just doesn’t understand? She captured it perfectly with “Telephone Wire.” It is not surprising that Kron won the Tony for Best Score last year. Though still writing specifically for a character who grew up in the 1970s, she manages to keep the sentiments real, raw, and (most importantly) relevant. She sees the human experience as it is: experienced by all humans traversing this life, universal. The ties that bind us all.

As an aside, I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Kron at an event last year, and she gave me some wonderful advice for a problem I myself encounter as a writer: fleshing out my stories. Being concise is both a blessing and a curse. But with her encouragement, I was able to revisit a piece of mine that I thought was done. It has since been expanded, and I like it quite a lot better.

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