Lena Dunham Re-shapes the Meaning of Mainstream

Today's post comes from Ypulse General Manager Jake Katz.

Lena Dunham Re-shapes the Meaning of Mainstream

GirlsIn 2010, The New York Times published an article called “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” This identification of the “emerging adulthood” Millennial phenomenon serves as the creative seed from which HBO’s “Girls” has grown.

“Girls” has sparked as much discussion in the marketing/media community as it has among its viewers. Thematically, the show brings to life many Millennial concepts. In particular, the growing complexities of dating (it’s no coincidence an article titled "The End of Courtship?" ran the same week as “Girls’” premiere). Additionally, the show’s exploration of navigating one’s post-college path to success mirrors much of what our research here at Ypulse shows about how Millennials are realizing their dreams in a post-recession economy.

While much of the discussion around the show has been quick to point out its misses (a lack of diversity in the cast, arguably skin deep analyses of life from Dunham), stepping back and examining it from a few levels higher brings up a more important discussion. The media industry should quickly be decoding what it means for our perceptions, visions, and assumptions of “mainstream America”, that a show set in the most notoriously niche and infamously marketing trapdoor of Williamsburg is as relatable to 20-somethings as the more obvious “The Carrie Diaries.”

The elephant in the room has now been recognized. For every big brand that has learned to assess new ideas, talent, trends, and marketing through a lens of mainstream versus leading edge, could this be the moment we realize the gap between leading edge and mainstream has nearly dissolved? Maybe.

Let’s think about this for a moment. We know this generation of youth…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“I move around every few years so it would be a huge hassle to have to buy and sell property so frequently.”—Female, 28, IN

Gen Z will spend the most on rent of any generation, but Millennials aren’t far behind. HotPads estimates that 2-20-year-olds will spend $226,000 on rent before they buy a home and 24-38-year-olds will ring in at $202,000. Despite the difference, Gen Z will own their first home one year earlier than Millennials because they’ll have “a stronger job market than [M]illennials”—but, despite the myths, they are buying homes in greater numbers. PS: Los Angeles tops the list of where young demos will spend the most on rent. (Business Insider)

What’s behind board games' popularity today? The NPD Group found that board games grew 8% compared to the toy industry’s overall growth of 8% in the past year and has “no signs of slowing down.” Digital detoxing plays a part, as more Millennial parents worry about their kids’ screen time and seek toys that foster face-to-face relationships. But despite the analog appeal, games are also getting high-tech and the word-of-mouth media they receive propels social media-friendly games like Pie Face to the top of toy charts. (Kidscreen)

Parents still have the most influence over kids today, but online celebrities are also top role models. Mintel research found that 86% of 6-17-year-olds say their parents are among their top role models, 62% say teachers, and 41% say siblings. But the top kind of celebrity that gets added to the category are social media celebrities at 35%, followed closely by musicians and athletes. Only 22% said actors were among their top role models and just 16% said the President. (MediaPost)

Disney has a new beverage to fill your Instagram feed: The Purple Wall Slushie. The Millennial & Gen Z-loved company has had no problem coming up with social media-friendly items, from Baby Groot bread to a viral Beauty and the Beast-inspired tumbler, and now they’ve rolled out a boba and taro beverage at Disney World. The Purple Wall is a famous destination to snap a pic for social media in the Magic Kingdom, and this slushy is made specifically to match up with the wall (and monetize on it). (POPSUGARInsider)

Speaking of Instagrammability, the Space Needle’s new, clear benches are sure to make for a thrilling photo op. The iconic viewing deck for the Seattle skyline has been in the midst of a makeover to create a better (and decidedly more social media-worthy) viewing experience. A metal base and caging has been replaced with a high glass wall from floor to sky, and so-called “skyrisers” will let visitors sit right on the edge of it all—and snap a selfie. (Curbed)

“People have been planning outfits since the start of the year [for prom].”—Male, 15, NC

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