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Dunham’s viewpoint worth millions to fans


– When word came down that “Girls” creator Lena Dunham had sold a book of essays for more than $3.5 million, I braced for a resurgence of the Dunham haters.

These are the people who argue Dunham is the beneficiary of nepotism.

It is a lot of money, and “Girls” is only a modestly rated show. But I’d rather think about Dunham’s valuable ideas.

Her book is only at the (accepted) proposal stage, but first Slate and then the New York Times obtained copies of that proposal. Among the ideas are a chapter devoted to “an account of some radically and hilariously inappropriate ways I have been treated at work/by professionals because of my age and gender.” And another on how to wear “Red lipstick with a sunburn: How to dress for a business meeting and other hard-earned fashion lessons from the size 10 who went to the Met Ball.”

These are the kinds of subjects for which there’s enormous demand but not much supply. I’d rather hear Dunham’s embarrassing work stories and what she learned from them than hear the same talking points women have been handed over and over again. Sure, Dunham’s been to the Met Ball, but she also looks like she might have real ideas for the size 10s who aren’t headed to the red carpet.

Twenty-something women have a buffet of love, sex and shopping advice at our disposal, but not often, or ever, with the humor and intelligence that Dunham can bring. Part of what’s interesting about her book project is that it appears to be about turning that grueling embarrassment and those profound lapses into the wisdom that can move a girl from flailing disaster into dignified success. I’m excited to read Dunham’s writing on the subject.

And I’m even more excited to see an ever-maturing Dunham move, someday, from Hannah Horvath and “Girls,” to tell stories about women.

Alyssa Rosenberg writes about culture and television for Slate’s XX Factor.