• Tony Tulathimutte

Inaccuracies in portrayal of the Iowa Writers' Workshop in HBO's Girls // Tony Tulathimutte


inaccuracies in portrayal of the Iowa Writers' Workshop in Girls S04E02:

—Foxhead too clean

—roomy 2-story house would cost $1200 not $800

—workshop minorities reverentially deferred to

—who the fuck would wear hawkeye apparel to workshop

—"the light doesn't look right" —Danielle Wheeler

—cell reception dead spots outdoors

—workshop room decor too Colonial

—undergrads would not have a kiddie pool of blue paint to wrestle in

accuracies:

—bat in house

—compulsion to distinguish oneself from undergrads

—fictional dey house porch

—"I just wanna say that this is one of the best pieces I've read in the program so far"

—"we're gonna go to a rager on north linn street!" and then it's a shitty house party

—openly using privileged info about other workshoppers to prejudice the reading of their story & derail discussion into tedious taxonomical debate about differences between fiction and nonfiction

inaccuracies in portrayal of Iowa Writers' Workshop in Girls S04E03:

—Hannah needing a ride home instead of just walking 10 minutes (wtf horse carriage ride?)

—ready access to ecstasy

—most people at party drinking out of glasses

—nobody wearing glasses

—music at party is not Robyn, Grimes, LCD Soundsystem, Ariel Pink, Daft Punk, MIA, Beyonce, or 90s pop

—most people at poet party indoors rather than smoking on porch or building dangerous fire in backyard

—everyone arrives at party while still light out

—nobody trying to start a dance party by turning off lights

accuracies:

—baking and hypochondria as procrastination

—going across the river to help someone with their chapbook (where the printmaking dept. is)

—being racist while accusing someone of sexism / vice versa

—fiction writers poisonously arguing over whether pop culture is "good," both sides profoundly insecure

—some guy not in the program involved in all program activities

—generalization about literature illustrated with all-male list of writers

—poet at party silently smoking alone in wing chair

—poet wearing sunglasses indoors

—poet lying motionless in bed

—all poets white

—people saying cruel things about your writing to your face and smugly expecting gratitude for their honesty

—"Everyone in my program is here. I don't want to be here" >>> stays anyway

inaccuracies in portrayal of Iowa Writers' Workshop in Girls s04e04:

—episode confuses cubbies (where manuscripts are left for pickup; one cubby per class) with personal mailboxes; the actual mailboxes are repurposed card catalog drawers, not cubbies. particularly egregious given that the ep is titled “Cubbies”

—“the cubbies are a sacred space”: nobody is sentimental about the fucking cubbies

—cringeworthy drama-starting mass missives would be sent to listserv

—workshop instructor passively allows fight to escalate to name-calling and paper-throwing

—drama explodes in workshop session rather than being sublimated in backhanded critique

—no event announcement flyers anywhere on walls of Dey House

—potted plant, curtains, art, desk and floor lamps, wallpaper in workshop seminar room

—“I was away camping with my fraternity” —does this imply the Hawkeye apparel guy is a grad student in a frat? bc that would be insane

—you can in fact be "extremely violent with another student" and still not get kicked out

accuracies:

—muttering “fuck” last thing before bed

—first read of workshop MS on toilet

—pointing out someone else’s rhetorical strategies to win an argument

—male workshopper complains about a grammatically correct sentence longer than 15 words

——bonus: incorrectly calls it a “run-on”

——2x bonus: others agree without hesitating

—convivial, knowing attitude shared universally among all members of a workshop except the one horrible, horrible, unwanted person everyone hates and it is you

—the look when someone says some dumb shit in workshop (attached)

also: “I worked really hard on my story—it’s about a robot horse”—callback to previous ep’s line about a “one-horse town”?

//

Tony Tulathimutte, pronounced TOO-lah-tim-OO-tee, is the author of Private Citizens (William Morrow, 2016) has written for VICE, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, N+1, The Paris Review, Salon, Travel + Leisure, AGNI, Threepenny Review, the LA Review of Books, and elsewhere.

He says: “I’m from the Pioneer Valley in the Bay State, and used to work in Silicon Valley in the Bay Area. I studied Symbolic Systems at Stanford, fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and I’ve received an O. Henry Award and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, the Truman Capote Literary Trust, and Jentel Arts. Usually I’m in New York.”

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