Donald Glover Will Play Lena Dunham's Handsome Black Republican Boyfriend In 'Girls'

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
January 7, 2013 10:11 AM
30 Comments
  • |

You'll recall last year's hoopla over the lack of diversity in Lena Dunham's hit HBO series, Girls (although, it's questionable whether it all was genuine, or fabricated to generate conversation and press around the series); soon after, it was revealed that Donald Glover would be joining the series' cast this season, I suppose in response to calls for more *color* on the show.

At the time, it wasn't known what role exactly Glover would play; but now we do know. 

Tim Goodman's review of the new season of the series (which debuts on January 13) in The Hollywood Reporter last Friday, gives us some of the 411:

Season two starts with a pretty big -- and unexplained -- jump. Hannah is now dating a handsome black Republican named Sandy (Donald Glover)... When Sandy calls out Hannah’s knowledge of race and its ramifications, she goes on a self-righteous, defensive rant, and Sandy says, “You just said a Missy Elliott lyric.” There are attacks on fixie bikes, rich white girls dating black men, iPad-using gay DJs, what constitutes a “pretty person’s job,” and the smug cynicism of youthful people who haven’t earned the right to it.

Intrigued?

I did watch a couple of episodes of Girls, and, to be frank, they did very little, to nothing, for me, and I never went back to it. I'm just not its target audience. Besides, I have so much else to keep up with. I hear it's a good show, well-written etc. But little about it attracts me.

Will Glover's addition make a difference to me? Probably not. But we'll see... I'm sure I'll be cajoled into giving it a look - especially the episodes he's in. 

Dunham said that the 'race' problem in Girls would be addressed in the new season, and the characters would be more diverse. Great! However, I'm not a fan of classic network tokenism in casting; in essence, don't give us characters of color just to meet a quota, or as a knee-jerk reaction to the criticism. And then when she does include black characters who aren't written as we'd like them to be, we'll only just criticize further! 

And given that Glover's character is a black Republican, it's anyone's guess what slant/angle the writing will take with Mr Sandy. 

For a show that, from what I hear, is not at all what you'd call political - at least the characters and the world they inhabit are apolitical - how will inserting a character designated as a black Republican mix into the narrative?

Television
  • |

More: Television, TV News, Donald Glover

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

30 Comments

  • Cyphine | January 15, 2013 4:50 PMReply

    It seemed pure female fantasy at work when casting sexy Donald Glover as lumpy Hannah's boyfriend. I was wondering how the heck it could possibly be believable that someone as gorgeous as Donald Glover could hook up with average Lena Dunham. I figured he'd have to have some enormous fault - then I realized he was supposed to be Republican - mystery solved!

  • esho | January 11, 2013 2:45 AMReply

    How exactly are they going to weave the fact that he is a black republican into the narrative? Is he going to give a speech on blacks on the Democratic plantation? Have posters of Clarence Thomas and Allen West in his bedroom. Go to protests supporting Stop and Frisk? I have absolutely no desire to see this.

  • gina | January 8, 2013 4:12 PMReply

    Am I intrigued, you ask? Of course I am! First I hear about this show everywhere I look, and now my favorite funny man is cast in it! When my DISH coworker first told me this news, I totally didn't believe him! Now I can't help but want to catch up on the series to see what all the fuss is about! Luckily, it'll be easy for me to get up to speed on "Girls", since every episode is available to rent from the Blockbuster @Home service through DISH.

  • getthesenets | January 8, 2013 12:52 PMReply

    Donald Glover is "not down for the cause"-heheheh

  • pk | January 8, 2013 12:02 PMReply

    I feel this is going to come off like the white girls in Chesaleigh' s "S*it White Girls Say to Black Guys". I already know how the Lena's of New York talk about race and it's annoying..won't be funny. The show is good sometimes though. The episode where she went back home and the wedding episode mainly.

  • getthesenets | January 8, 2013 11:58 AMReply

    never trust a Black man without a moustache

  • styles | January 8, 2013 11:03 AMReply

    I don't think this is what the complainers had in mind when they asked for more diversity. It seems this girl and HBO decided to create more controversy by suggesting that a handsome black Republican will date any white woman and good looks need not apply.

  • BURP | January 8, 2013 11:58 AM

    @ styles ..Yeah they could have gotten the black grungy hipster I am used to seeing in BK to play that part but I see what they are doing. Again you have to understand hipster culture. They really don't mess with black people in general and when they do its a black person who a) from somewhere else b)who understands there culture and tries to emulate it c)a cultured black person. So Lena is right in her choice of black person because he is safe in their eyes. He looks like them and he is a black republican..an anomaly in their eyes. I guess he does not see race an issue and feels that we live in a post racial society because we have a black president. These brothers work hard at to integrating into white culture by dressing the same way, talking, music, reading, travel etc. And to be honest when a lot of brothers cross over they get some of the ugliest white girls they can find because those are the only ones who will accept them(there has been a paradigm shift however the scale still favors the unattractive). They never really get the good ones. The good looking ones only go in to satisfy a curiosity or some fantasies and thats it...right back home. Also being fat and white is the kiss of death in white culture..white dudes don't go for that...brothers don't mind that for some strange reason and will gladly take up the comfort of a fat white woman. I cannot wait to see how Lena develops the black dude and her reactions towards him. She is an excellent writer so I am curious to see. I appreciate true to form real depictions of American life on tv.

  • monkeysuit | January 8, 2013 9:45 AMReply

    @Charles I still think it's dumb. I liked the first season, but if this addition is just to "diversify" the show by putting an Uncle Tom on it, well I'd rather them just keep to what they know. If it's so difficult to imagine the experiences of another race that you have to make a character that is inwardly whiter than them, as "funny" as that sounds, it's not addressing the white-wash issue. I'd rather them stay apolitical than have to sit through a privileged white girl's idea about race being countered with a black Republican's ideals. And furthermore, I thought the appeal of the show was its somewhat realistic approach to modern day 20-something hipster white women. You can imagine meeting all of the characters hanging around organic coffee shops in Williamsburg. Where does a black Republican fit in in all this? Maybe I'm ignorant being 20-something myself and living in NYC, but I've never encountered a young, black Republican privileged or not. They're like unicorns. Which means his character isn't reflective of any recognizable culture, certainly not young, black, middle-class New Yorkers better known as "blipsters." That makes his addition is a farce, which breaks the show's mold, right?

  • BURP | January 8, 2013 8:28 AMReply

    This show actually has some very good writing and is very accurate according to hipster culture in Brooklyn. Its very funny and I give props to Lena.. I will watch it.

  • BURP | January 8, 2013 11:38 AM

    @ Ivory Jeff Clinton I am very positive thats what she meant. In her eyes because I am from Guyana and I am black living in US appeals to her notion of knowing interesting people especially a black person from somewhere else. Its like if you had a friend from Senegal who speaks three languages and you introduce them to your group of American friends. It adds a level of cache to your group of acquaintance. I guess it makes them feel cooler in some instances. There are people who think like that all the time. Now her saying that me being Guyanese and not Afro American was an opportunity for her to disassociate myself from American Blacks. The people she would not normally hang out with because of some stereotypes she holds on them. When she introduces me to her friends she is quick to note that I am from somewhere else as to assuage any bad thoughts coming from her hipster peers. Like wow we don't have any stereotypes on people from Guyana so you must be ok.. Thats how a lot of them think. Do not let the "I am liberal I voted for Barack Obama progressive shit fool you". Thats why I am interested to see Lena(Girls) spin on this show because they have a "Black Republican" and made a point to emphasis it. Again in their mind he is different ..not like the rest so to speak. Lena is very accurate as to how hipsters get down in BK and I give her props for the writing and staying true to form. Hipsters are always trying to define and associate with what they think is cool. Lena having a black boyfriend who is a republican is sooo hipster cool..lol

  • IVORY JEFF CLINTON | January 8, 2013 11:16 AM

    My bad on the repeated comment. And please know that I'm not at all trying to start an argument or come at anyone sideways. I come in peace. Just asking the questions I posed out of curiosity. ... https://twitter.com/IvoryJeff/status/288680595062677504

  • IVORY JEFF CLINTON | January 8, 2013 11:11 AM

    BURP, are u sure that the person who said u, being of Guyanese background, are not African-American was trying to say u were "more tolerable" than blacks to whom the hyphenated nationality applies? And MONKEYSUIT, I'm curious as to the context of the speech a black person gave u on the topic. Could it be that they were just pointing out that the term "African-American" doesn't make sense in your cases? I wonder because I've met & known of blacks who, b/c of their particular backgrounds, don't want to be identified that way. And rightfully so. An example is a black woman who has lived in NYC for many years but was born & raised in London & has Jamaican parents. She said that although she realizes people are just trying to be politically correct in using the more newfangled term & don't mean any harm, "black" makes much more sense in her case. African-Jamaican-British, we joked, is kinda clunky. And I think she since has become an American citizen, so her full nationality would be even more unwieldy to use. ... https://twitter.com/IvoryJeff/status/288679285147987968

  • Ivory Jeff Clinton | January 8, 2013 11:11 AM

    BURP, are u sure that the person who said u, being of Guyanese background, are not African-American was trying to say u were "more tolerable" than blacks to whom the hyphenated nationality applies? And MONKEYSUIT, I'm curious as to the context of the speech a black person gave u on the topic. Could it be that they were just pointing out that the term "African-American" doesn't make sense in your cases? I wonder because I've met & known of blacks who, b/c of their particular backgrounds, don't want to be identified that way. And rightfully so. An example is a black woman who has lived in NYC for many years but was born & raised in London & has Jamaican parents. She said that although she realizes people are just trying to be politically correct in using the more newfangled term & don't mean any harm, "black" makes much more sense in her case. African-Jamaican-British, we joked, is kinda clunky. And I think she since has become an American citizen, so her full nationality would be even more unwieldy to use. ...

  • monkeysuit | January 8, 2013 9:46 AM

    I had a black American give me the same speech because I'm Caribbean.

  • BURP | January 8, 2013 8:32 AM

    I had a hipster white chick tell me "you not really african american ...your Guyanese"... as if being from a different place made me cooler ...and not being African American made me more tolerable. Strange huh.. I cannot wait to see the black white interaction on the show...

  • Robert E. Holley (@ROBatGraveShift) | January 7, 2013 10:58 PMReply

    I finally sat down and watched the whole first season the other night. It's not horrible, and comes in to it's own in the last few episodes of the season. It definitely speaks to the current next generation of 20/30 somethings in New York. I once heard Lena Dunham talk about how the show is from the perspective of someone who moved to the city expecting that "Sex and The City" experience, only to be rudely awakened, and that's EXACTLY what it is. I tried to get in to it early on and passed, but happened to catch the Bushwick episode, and laughed my ass off.

    It's worth giving it a chance. I respect her staying in her lane, and not trying to fabricate an experience (read: black experience), that she isn't familiar with. I'll be tuning in come Season 2

  • Nia | January 7, 2013 10:36 PMReply

    Hi, under 30 year old person here. So I guess that means I'm somewhat in the target audience. I was one of the first to shout about the lack of color in this show before I really gave it a chance. It is a tautly written show about girls in my age group who just can't seem to get it right. I'm still very miffed that nearly NO PoC were included in the first season, but the show has a certain something that I don't see in television for women my age. Outside of Awkward Black Girl that is. If there are some please let me know. I really like Donald Glover for reasons I really can't pinpoint (moreso his off kilter sketch show Derrick Comedy), so I'll be watching. If I feel up to it.

  • Cynthia | January 7, 2013 10:28 PMReply

    People like Lena Dunham in real life hang out with black people like Donald Glover in real life, because they're indie. The black people who aren't the stereotype and who hang around the rich kid, hipster type is the black people you'll see on her show. Point blank. So I'm not surprised his character is who he is, nor do I expect anything else.

  • RZ | January 11, 2013 11:20 PM

    Cynthia,

    I guarantee you that none of them are Republican. She created such a character to give him a degree of social safety. There are hardly any Republicans in Brooklyn to begin with. Most creative types are liberal for extremely obvious social reasons. I am black and living in Greenpoint. I am a designer and writer, she could have easily integrated a non-white character as a neighbor in her building or a roommate of a friend she may have. She would have been better shifting toward a female character than a male one. I am assuming that like many Lena Dunham types, black women make her uneasy. This selection of character is likely to cost the show more negative critique.

  • Miles Ellison | January 7, 2013 8:29 PMReply

    Yay. I'm still not watching.

  • Nuli_h@yahoo.com | January 7, 2013 4:51 PMReply

    Donald Glover is a perfect addition. Getting chills... love the storyline. Ultra-authentique.

  • Mekisha Hale | January 7, 2013 4:31 PMReply

    Just read the article on the series HBO's Girl's with an added character to the show named Sandy. An Boyfriend who happens to be an Black Republican. Well this really includes and solves the biggest problem in situation comedies shows. Suppose to be so different then other shows that display not the realization of women real women who reflect the real society. So with that why is the character is dating an Black Republican doesn't make sense. Also I think that the discussion on the just idea of putting a black character on show just to feel that this is real enough for everyone out there to watch to show more, doesn't make any sense either. That should have been part of the ideal of the show before it appeared on the network. If this is the new generation of today it would be more diversity then what is displayed which is sort of interesting that this is applied to the character recent on the new season. Why not have more diversity with women who are from different point of views about dating and relationships and just being a woman period. It doesn't make sense to put on such a character that is so far from dealing with real life. Knowing that most who are diverse themselves ethnic and are from backgrounds that have different people wouldn't political now in the climate would find this character study as really not believable then the truth. I would rather like if they would try out something completely different. Why not make the show more diverse like New York City is a place of different cultures why not reflect that. That I would take the time to watch then something that's thrown in there for cover. Still this was an article that gave some interesting pin points on something that was unknown to me.

  • Cynthia | January 7, 2013 10:36 PM

    What you see in the show is how it is in her world. That's what people aren't getting and complain about. We're asking her to do this and do that, add this to make it more relatable to us... But she's gearing this show toward people that can relate or people who are just watching for the entertainment. Why are we asking her to appeal it to other people she had no intention of airing the show for? She's intending to add "diversity" because people she didn't think would be interested, are. But saying why not try a more diverse part of NYC... Well, she's never lived in a more diverse area and that's not how she's lived. Her show isn't trying to be anything or showcase anything that will change the mindset of people. It's a show about the life she's lived in her eyes and in the eyes of girls who have lived her life. To expect more when that's not her goal is pointless.

  • bill | January 7, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    Dang, she just lost all her viewership! bhahahah!

  • Adam Scott Thompson | January 7, 2013 11:47 AMReply

    I like (love?) the show. Got a weird little crush on this funny, self-deprecating, homely, never-well-dressed chick.

  • bill | January 8, 2013 4:41 PM

    Me too. She has a normal girl body. Unlike sticks like Emma roberts. Eat some food Emma!

  • Helluva | January 8, 2013 9:30 AM

    Hahaha...haven't seen the show (yet) but I do love the webi-sodes she did that I've seen on YouTube. She is a naturally funny chick, which has its appeal of course. Not a fan of Judd Apatow (her producer), so much. Maybe that's where the Republican angle is coming from...

  • monkeysuit | January 7, 2013 11:46 AMReply

    This sounds dumb. And will definitely not entice more black viewers. I mean is there anybody more worthy of loathing than the black republican?

  • Charles Judson | January 7, 2013 4:25 PM

    How is this dumb? Strong storytelling, and comedy, comes from contrasts and opposites. You have a liberal, (upper?) middle class, White girl in Lena's character. What better place to push a young character's story and experience--especially for one who myopically navel gazes--than to have that character date someone like Sandy? Writers, actors and directors who exhibit outright disdain for characters they disagree with, tend to make flat films and one-dimensional characters. I also wouldn't presume that it will be a turn off. I've seen more folks critique SCANDAL's interracial and power dynamics, than point out that the main character is sleeping with a Republican or helped that Republican get elected.

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Taraji P. Henson Drama 'From The Rough' ...
  • Interview: Marlon Wayans Talks Career, ...
  • Electro (Jamie Foxx) Faces Off Against ...
  • Watch Omar Sy In Action As Bishop In ...
  • Black Movie Trivia - Congrats to our ...
  • Interview: Chatting with RZA About Paul ...
  • Sidney Poitier Made Oscar History Today ...
  • Watch TV ONE’s Fascinating & Informative ...
  • Critically-Acclaimed Doc 'The Trials ...
  • Weekend B.O. April 11-13 (Close, But ...