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Penis Jokes vs. Vagina Jokes -- HBO's New Buzz-Heavy Comedy Adds Fuel to TV's Sitcom Gender War Fox News, TVWeek

The TV sitcom landscape seems to be breaking down increasingly along gender lines, with penis jokes on one side and vagina jokes on the other. In the latest volley, the creator, writer, director and star of HBO’s much talked about new series “Girls” -- a show that continues to tilt the balance toward female-focused comedies -- dismisses critics who say things are beoming too “girly” on the TV landscape.

“Look, there are three shows with the title ‘Girls’ and everyone has a breakdown, and then there is Spike TV and entire networks filled with guy stuff,” Lena Dunham said, according to a Fox News story. The other recent shows include CBS’s “2 Broke Girls” and Fox’s “The New Girl,” but Dunham’s comments appear to be inspired more by remarks from a co-creator of a show on the other side of the debate: “Two and a Half Men.”

As reported previously, “Men’s” Lee Aronsohn, appearing at a recent screenwriting conference, said, "Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods," and added: “We’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.”

Aronsohn drew criticism for those remarks, and later indicated via a Twitter post that he was being ironic -- especially considering the preponderance of penis jokes in his own show. Even so, the debut of HBO’s “Girls” comes at a time when the sitcom gender debate is being taken seriously by many TV critics.

But Dunham, 25, says her show, and her character, represents a departure from the stereotypes. “It’s the type of girl I haven’t seen on TV yet, so HBO really took a chance,” she says in the Fox News piece. “I had a feeling it was going to connect to women of this age. … At certain times, I was really reaching into my own experience. I wanted to have that kind of [New York] spirit of if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

The New York reference addresses inevitable comparisons between “Girls” and a wildly successful HBO series that premiered in an earlier decade.

“But where 20 years ago HBO's seminal series ‘Sex and the City’ unveiled a glamorous Manhattan lifestyle of lavish dining, high fashion, chic apartments and top-notch careers, the recession-relevant ‘Girls’ positions its leading ladies (all early 20s) in Brooklyn without big budgets, still trying to figure out who they are and what they want,” the Fox News story reports. The original “Sex and the City” ran on HBO from 1998 to 2004.

The story notes that the show’s main cast is largely unknown, but leans heavily on the offspring of famous parents -- including Jemima Kirke, daughter of Simon Kirke of the rock band Bad Company; Zosia Mamet, daughter of writer and director David Mamet; and Allison Williams, daughter of NBC News mainstay Brian Williams. Judd Apatow’s production company is behind the series.

HBO will make “Girls,” along with another new comedy, “Veep” -- which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the first female vice president -- available for free online at a number of websites, as we reported earlier. On the pay cable channel, the show premieres Sunday night.