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

Quote of the Day: “My 2017 resolution is to improve my dog's confidence- She's somewhat fearful.”—Female, 28, PA

At some malls, teens “have worn our their welcome.” Cases of teens banding together on social media and going to malls to create chaos have reportedly been increasing over recent years. To avoid giving consumers another reason to shop online, some shopping centers—105 in the U.S. according to the International Council of Shopping Centers—have responded by imposing curfews and bans on the young consumers. The legality of such restrictions has been called to question, with the ACLU working to fight discrimination at play. (LA Times)

Millennial parents are getting by with a little—ok, maybe a lot—of help from their own parents. A TD Ameritrade survey has found that 19-37-year-olds who have kids get $11,000 on average from their parents through financial support or unpaid labor, and more than half get assistance through childcare or housekeeping weekly. But the assistance isn’t one-sided: three-quarters of 50-70-year-olds with Millennial children say they’re glad to help, and four in ten Millennials say they help their parents too, with an average of $2000 in 2016. (USA TODAYBusiness Wire)

The NFL is looking outside their traditional playbook to reach young fans. The league has partnered with AwesomenessTV for In The NFL, a new series that “lifts the curtain” to give a behind-the-scenes look at the sport. Since "a 17-year-old girl doesn't want to watch the same content as her mom or her dad,” some episodes have a young female focus, with one starring YouTube stars the Merrell twins taking a tour of a stadium, and another featuring one of the few female owners in the NFL, Kim Pegula, offering career tips to young women. (Adweek)

Can the future generation of shoppers save brick-and-mortar retail? Maybe. A new IBM and National Retail Federation study has revealed that 67% of 13-21-year-olds shop in-store most of the time, while another 31% occasionally buy from them. One analyst notes that their desire for “hands-on experience” is setting their preferences, but lack of credit cards and life stage are also likely forces deterring them from online shopping—and we predict that if fintech solutions are developed with teens in mind it could be a fatal blow for physical teen retailers. (RackedBusiness Wire

The sharing economy may be impacting Millennial spending. Research by Hammerson and retail consultant Verdict found that more than half of Millennials used a sharing economy business like Uber or Airbnb in the last year, compared to 16.2% of those over 35-years-old. Nearly a quarter of Millennials say they aren’t concerned about home ownership and would be content with renting for the rest of their lives, and when compared to those over 35-year-olds, they're two times more likely to agree that there are some products they don’t need to own and would prefer to rent. (Forbes

Quote of the Day: “My 2017 resolution is to live my life the way Carrie Fisher would have wanted me to.”—Female, 21, TX

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