Visiting Dignitaries

Lena Dunham Takes a Stab At the ‘Bougie Nightmare’ Of Working In Startups

Charlie: Ricky Van Veen as "said business tycoon": Barry Diller.

(Photo: Twitter/AbrahamJoseph)

It’s been said that if Sex And The City were still on the air, Carrie would be dating a startup dude. (For related theories on how George Costanza would deal with Snapchat, please see @ModernSeinfeld.)

Lucky for Lena Dunham that her Brooklyn-based take on entitlement coincides with the rise of New York’s nouveau tech riches. We already saw boho babe Jessa slum it with a square venture capitalist. (Factcheck on his “Steal My Sunshine” mash-up, though: In real life, VCs are much more partial to posting indie rock or dad rock on their Tumblr. And we’re sorry to report you probably picked the same song of the year.)

But yesterday, the voice (of a certain hue) of her generation went ahead and did the damn thing. In a walk through Washington Square Park, Shoshana reveals that Marnie’s ex-boyfriend Charlie built an app called Forbid.

“He sold it to, like, a very esteemed business tycoon for, like, a very large sum of money and now he has a corner office in said tycoon’s building with, like, 11 employees,” she says. “Charlie has a company?” Marnie whimpers, mentally filling her walk-in closet with plastic dresses.

“He’s basically become a bougie nightmare,” older-and-wiser Ray explains.

Knowing Ms. Dunham’s penchant for borrowing from her actresses’ real lives in a way that hits “a little close to home,” it’s hard not to see the parallel with the relationship between Allison Williams, who plays Marnie, and her boyfriend, CollegeHumor and Notional founder Ricky Van Veen. It may be a mystery to Gawker, but the two have been dating for awhile now. They were recently spotted on a double-date to the Grammy’s with his pal John Mayer and American firework Katy Perry.

According to our logic, that makes IAC chairman Barry Diller the source material for “said business tycoon.” Last May, we spotted Ms. Williams on the mogul’s arm at a startup party in the lobby of IAC’s Frank Gehry building. Both CollegeHumor and Notional are part of IAC’s portfolio.

So what overheard Silicon Alley tidbits might Ms. Dunham have pilfered to incorporate into the episode?

Well, Forbid, which blocks users from making calls they know they shouldn’t was apparently inspired by Charlie’s breakup with Marnie. (The app version of *refresh refresh refresh*?) If users give in to drunken urges, customers have to pony up $10 to unblock the number. “People are really responding to software that protects them from themselves or other people,” is Charlie’s elevator pitch to Marns. “So the app is free, but breaking your word to yourself isn’t.” Monetizable behavior modification? Give this kid a $250k seed round!

The wood paneling in the fictional Chelsea lobby looked more Upper East Side salon to us, but upstairs it’s all iMacs and Aeron chairs, as custom dictates.

Charlie’s still trying to maintain his Bushwick roots. He brushes off an offer to hear the new Jack Johnson–good luck with that, buddy–and hasn’t gone soft on the free candy perks just yet. He’s also predictably vague about the size of his acquisition. “They paid me a shitload,” he jokes before downgrading it to “not that much, but enough.” Enough for an unlofted bed and a boatload of headbands, we premuse.

But what’s that in the distance? The blare of an air horn as a coworking-space’s-worth of 20-somethings dance their way through the open floor plan to the sounds of “Teach How to Dougie.” Sorry, Marns. Charlie doesn’t have time for your sadface because “the office next door doing a lip-dub thing for their YouTube channel.” Although we appreciate the fameball-era callback, lipdubs are so 2009. Bonus points for predicting our long national Harlem Shake nightmare, though.

Later, slumped over in her “magician’s assistant” outfit, Marnie has an epiphany. “You know who end up living their dreams are sad messes like Charlie?!” Uh-oh, sounds Lena Dunham just called ya’ll not awesome.

XO, Nitasha, the richest Hindi you know

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS.


  1. Etsuko says:

    I simply couldn’t go away your web site prior to suggesting that I actually loved the standard info an individual provide on your visitors? Is gonna be back regularly in order to inspect new posts