Generations" don't really exist, except in biology, and in some cases when someone writing about history can make a convincing case for one in a specific time and place. Things like Generation Y are just mass media fabrications that oversimplify, in my view. As the interview makes clear, the joke about the character being the voice of her generation was written to be ridiculous for a specific purpose, and Dunham herself has a lot of misgivings about presuming to "speak for" women her age and their social and sexual lives in any kind of grandiose way whatsoever, which seems like a role being assigned to her by others in the same media inclined to talk about her generation.
This. Is Dunham speaking for people in her age range who are veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, or teenage mothers, or have lives closer to the range of adolescent and 20-something characters on 'The Wire', or people who went to state schools, and not Oberlin, or 25 year old yuppies, or lawyers, or construction workers, etc. etc.?
I'm not sure she's self-absorbed, especially, just that she's had a certain narrowness to her experience, and there are diminishing returns on 'Look how sheltered/awkward/floundering/undeserving-of-my-privilege I am!' Write what you know, that kind of thing.
There's the phenomenon, too, of backlash and resentment when something not-bad gets overhyped- if Tiny Furniture had been more obscure, and not a circuit hit, and come out on a different label like Zeitgeist [pun, I realize on proofreading, unintended], I'm sure a few posters would be saying, 'Hey check out this new filmmaker who's not-bad' and there'd be no fuss.
She's actually quite likeable, and sort of the hipster Seth Rogen, a little schlubby and self-deprecating but having a basic degree of goodness.
Anyway, returning to her 'generation' and 'the zeitgeist', she's the zeitgeist of what people envy/aspire to, the same criticism could be leveled at Woody Allen, 'Friends', etc., ascending to a semi-fantasy world where you can float a little on privilege and enjoy luxuries like having a therapist, and large apartments, and reading (or writing for) the New York Times- it's the difference between alcohol consumption on 'Sex and the City' and 'On The Bowery', or romance in 'You've Got Mail' as opposed to 'Minnie and Moskowitz.' Even if her new show sounds like it's about bad jobs and bad sex and bad lighting, I think there's a certain glamour associated, in our 'zeitgeist', with being young and single in New York- even if her show is critiquing that glamour, it also seems to be benefiting from it in the press reactions. No one cares about being young and single, with bad jobs and bad sex and bad lighting in Milwaukee, or Scranton- 'The Office' is probably more representative of American experience than 'Girls.'
It is annoying to see interviews where she says stuff like 'Frank Bruni is such a cool literate dude, I love talking to him' - it's like, if you're so 'awkward', don't fit in so much, or twit back and forth with Judd Apatow- as if aping awkwardness is the trick she's found to charm adults and parties.
The legit crit. is that she's under-curious, not enough interested in the world outside herself- content to know her milieu, and the books and ideas they give you at a liberal arts college- and her seeming cinematic ignorance (although she piously namedrops Fassbinder) is of the same stripe.
But who knows? Maybe her work will age well, and I'll feel foolish for reacting against it. I flirted with floating on that kind of semi-privilege a little bit in college and immediately after, and I feel as if she's just channeling my old livejournal circa 2005.. I wrote a poem about how being sheltered and going to an expensive college was like being kept in a veal pen and not having the opportunity to develop any muscle. That did not age well, and I felt foolish.