Jemima Kirke: The honest ways to get married are for a green card or a party

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Jemima Kirke of Girls has spoken sort-of candidly about the end of her marriage, to Michael Mosberg, with whom she split in 2016. They met in rehab, were married for seven years, and have a seven year-old daughter and a five year-old son together. Jemima has said that their marriage ended due to the fact that she was acting and evaluating her goals and position in life. So she had a bad go of it, and that gives her a particular outlook on marriage, one that she’s expressing through her art. Jemima has a BA from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design and is a painter. Her latest work involves painting women as brides looking less than thrilled. She has some interesting and controversial thoughts about marriage and about sexual assault and harassment as well. Jemima spoke to Bedford and Bowery, and she gave this interview a couple of weeks ago but someone just emailed it to me and I wanted to talk about it.

Is your opinion on marriage different now than it was when you started the series?
It’s interesting; I finished the series right when the #metoo thing started. This helped me understand what my stance is on that. I do feel like the sort of hypervigilance that social media is having on anyone who says anything—it seems like no one is allowed to have opposing views anymore. You have to believe one thing and one thing only, and there can’t be any exception to that rule. And that’s what I find very dangerous. We’re not allowed to have two things be true at once. So for these women, I can accept that some are progressive, liberal, intellectual women who want to put on a white dress.

Did you talk to your subjects about their views on marriage?
It depends. If they had been divorced, then generally people were really interested in the subject matter. But married, they didn’t really want to discuss it. My friends know me well enough to know I’m not painting you in your wedding dress because it’s beautiful. Some aren’t necessarily ready to hear my—well, not cynicism, it’s just I want to reopen the case.

Just look at it critically?
Yeah. I don’t mind anyone being anything as long as they’re not calling it something else. The two honest ways to get married are for a green card or to do a big, crazy Sean Parker wedding. Because both are sincere; one is for necessity and one is, we want to throw a party and we want you guys to look at us for the whole weekend. Those things in between are where I’m asking questions.

Going back to the #metoo: Normally there are one or two stories like this, and then it sort of fades. But the consistency with which more stories are coming forward—
I’m happy about that. What I’m not happy about is what I was saying before; people’s blanket assessment of the whole thing. Rape to sexual harassment, it’s become almost the same crime, at least on social media. And it seems that no one stands a chance, if they’re accused, of being innocent, if they are. They’re not allowed right now. And it scares me. I don’t feel bad for men, but why are we oversimplifying this? Details always matter. And occasionally, those details will reveal that someone didn’t do it, or there’s a gray area. And I understand the whole idea, we push it a little too far, and unfortunately some people are going to fall through the cracks but it’s for a greater good. We want men to realize this is a real thing.

Lena [Dunham] wrote in defense of a friend of hers. I have no opinion or understanding about whether he was guilty or not, but I do know you’re allowed to have strict principles, but make exceptions sometimes because the truth’s always in the details and she knows those details. Yes, she should not have said something. I understood it as not necessarily “Lena Dunham needs to be heard again,” more as her defending someone who was a good friend and she was in an advantageous position to help them, and she overdid it. I do not criticize her for being inconsistent.

[From Bedford and Bowery]

What is she even trying to say about #metoo? She’s talking out of both sides of her mouth. Is she trying to back up her buddy Lena Dunham’s essay defending a man she knew who raped a woman she didn’t know? Is she saying Lena “knows the details” as told to her by the perpetrator, but maybe Lena shouldn’t have revealed that? Is she giving us the Matt Damon and Dave Chappelle explanation of the levels of harassment and assault, as defined by a judging outsider who rejects victims’ claims on the pretense of fairness and perceived level of abuse? Because it sure sounds like it to me. It sounds like she wants to go full Dunham but isn’t fully committing to it. Of course people understand that those are different crimes, but focusing on the nuance of it and questioning victims is not the way to go.

As for her claim that the the only honest reasons for people to get married are a party or a green card, maybe she sticks in her bubble of cynical people who look, think and act just like she does. She thinks love, commitment and devotion aren’t real or that they’re so fleeting they’re not worth marrying for. She also questions victims, but she tries to talk around that under the guise of fairness. We’ve heard that weak ass argument from so many Hollywood bros, and it’s disappointing but not surprising to hear it from the occasional actress.

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64 Responses to “Jemima Kirke: The honest ways to get married are for a green card or a party”

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  1. Kdlaf says:


  2. Huh says:

    Okay, Jemima. So a relationship surrounded by the haze of opioids and shot glasses and rehab kinda blew? Ok.

    She has a nasty soul and limited talent. No insight, just a congested, vinegared view of everything. I’m glad Zinzi Clemmons spoke up about this brat circle’s behaviors from back in the day.

    • Tiffany says:

      Zinzi Clemmons became the spirit animal I did not realize that I needed until she released her resignation letter.

      I love her.

    • Gisele says:

      Wow you are quite a piece of work yourself.

    • Gisele says:

      Oh and before I forget, Huh is also a brilliant art critic as well as someone with god-like powers to accurately assess a person’s soul. How impressive. Really. Find an agent quickly and become a guru.

  3. Squiggisbig says:

    Oh thank god! I’ve been hoping that one of Lena Dunham’s less famous but still tone deaf and over privileged friends would explain the acceptable reasons to marry.

  4. Beth says:

    Maybe I misunderstood what she’s saying, but to me, the only honest reason to get married would be if we were both truly ready and in love.

    She seems a little confused or dumb in the things she says

    • Originaltessa says:

      Seriously, F her and all of her effing friends. So sick of people whose marriages blew up telling other people how bad marriage is. No, shut up. I don’t find you hip or cool, just bitter and judgmental. And you look ridiculous in that outfit. It’s “celebitchy” right?

    • Wren says:

      She sounds like a disaffected teenager who recently came to the realization that there is some bad, deep shit in the world. The equating of cynicism with wisdom, the oversimplifying, it’s all there.

      • KBB says:

        Absolutely. I was taken aback by her complete lack of self-awareness. She feels comfortable making these broad statements about marriage because her marriage failed.

        I get how she’s friends with Lena Dunham now. Know-it-alls who know nothing at all.

    • Betsy says:

      Yep. What a moron.

      Marriage isn’t for everyone; it has never been. But to imply that the institution is bullocks because she was rum soaked and an up her own bum actress? Just because I can’t burn off moles with a laser doesn’t mean it’s not real.

  5. JA says:

    Riiiiight! It’s always funny to hear marriage advice or anti-marriage stances from the sound of it, from ppl who made some rather questionable choices in regards to their love life/marriage. Marriage is what you make of it & means different things to different people, that said, a horrible relationship/marriage & a fancy art degree doesn’t make you the official spokesperson for matrimony. The fact she is/was friends with Lena Dunham and runs in the same circle of self-important, rich kids with far too much time/inheritance on their hands just adds to my dismissal of her. I’m sure she’s the bee knees in the art scene but to me she’s the friend you stopped inviting to parties because she’s exhausting.

  6. Plantpal says:

    There is a time to reap, there is a time to sow. There is a time to laugh, there is a time to cry. There is also a time to be quiet and a time to shout as loud as you possibly can. This young woman needs to be quiet so wiser, deeply thoughtful voices can penetrate through her priviledge. Yikes.

  7. FLORC says:

    RISD… It’s expensive and offer great programs. Dorm rooms are awesome. The general vibe from the students… like a sea of Dunhams.

      • FLORC says:

        A friend got her master’s in architecture there. Wealthy family. Gorgeous campus. For her birthday we went out to a club called “Hell.” “Heaven” was right across the street. The preparty was in the dorm. Good size. Private bathroom nearly the size of the dorm. I ended up sleeping in the handicap equip shower stall… large padded shower seat… like a couch if you curled up.
        Besides hearing pure white entitlement manifested as racist comments that was my RISD experience. These were the circles Lena ran in, but I never met her directly.

    • Celebitchy says:

      Can confirm. My brother’s ex wife went there.

    • Boodiba says:

      Not all of us! Granted it’s a rich kids school so there are those spoiled & entitled. Like, I crashed my alfa romeo doing acid at the dead concert so daddy bought me another. (The rich deadheads were the WORST).

      I’m old tho. Graduated in 89.

    • Deana says:

      Not everyone. My son went to RISD. He’s very normal and level headed. He told me there was a contingent of self important rich kids, but he was too busy working in the studio to deal with that crap. It was a sacrifice for us to send him there, and he knew it. The kid wanted to go there since he was 13. He got as much out of it as possible.

      • Doc says:

        Good for him! Sounds like an impressive young man.

        It’s good to hear that nit everyone there is like that, and just like with a lot of things, immersing yourself in work you chose is the way to go.

  8. Lindy79 says:

    She seems exhausting

  9. paranormalgirl says:

    God, she needs to sit down. YOU had a crappy marriage. YOU. Not everyone else. Don’t question why people get married just because YOU married for some dubious reason. And didn’t they teach her anything about the human form in art school?

    • Wren says:

      No kidding. “My marriage didn’t work out, and thus I now know all the secrets of marriage and have determined it’s all bullshit”.

      Yeah, some people do get married for the reasons she listed. Many, many do not. I’ve been thinking this increasingly frequently of late whenever I hear some famous person’s opinion, but she really needs to get out more and meet other people.

      • MostlyMegan says:

        It’s a bit ego-centric isn’t it? “My marriage failed because ALL marriages are flawed”. Um, nope. That is just your myopic viewpoint. I would have had more respect for her if she was a bit more self-aware. If she said, “This is my view of what marriage is – I feel distorted after a harrowing breakup of a dream” or whatever. But this “It’s ALL broken because mine was broken” is just disappointing in it’s lack of depth.

    • Erinn says:

      I can’t believe that NOBODY in her family/friend group has a happy marriage. She’s so self-centered to think that her failure means everyone else is just as unhappy.

    • Nicole says:

      Also getting married to someone right out of rehab is a big no.

    • Betsy says:

      Maybe she’s going for the Lucian Freud look.

  10. mp says:

    She’s been saying weird things lately (to put it nicely)…I don’t think she is in a good place ATM to be honest….maybe the divorce really affected her, more than she is willing to admit…maybe?

    • Kdlaf says:

      Yeah I agree. Also her sister just got married and seems pretty happy/content – maybe shes bitter and/or sad about that. Now that Girls is over along with her marriage (which had strange beginnings tbh) – shes probably lost

  11. Erinn says:

    Well shit, guys. I got married out of love. Maybe it should have been a green card or a big ass party thing instead.

    That being said – if I were to do the wedding thing over again, I’d 100% do it crazy small and then have a slightly larger party. There were too many loud mouth, petty family members in attendance, and I was a nervous wreck leading up to the wedding because of that. I’d just cut those people out in a do-over. If people can’t be happy for you, and don’t want to see you do what makes you happy, then screw them.

    Or just do an intimate destination wedding. But there’s no way we’d have managed to get the grandmothers on a plane, so if we had done that, we’d almost need two weddings to make the girls happy. Since getting married my husband lost his grandmother, so out of the two of us my nan is the only grandparent left and is 92. And that woman loooooves getting done up and wearing her diamonds. There was no way I wasn’t giving her an occasion to do so.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      Man, you suck. Marrying for love and all.

    • Wren says:

      I got married for love and practicality. See, you can have both!

      I had a small wedding and it was TOTALLY the way to go, at least for us. We did everything we could to minimize stress and moving parts, and even the divorced/estranged side of the family behaved themselves and it was lovely. It’s something we look back on now with happy memories, but I would be married anyway even if we had scrapped the wedding entirely and just eloped.

    • Nicole says:

      Yea my friends want to elope and just have a party. One of my other friends is having a destination wedding. Families can completely derail a wedding and that sucks.

    • Betsy says:

      Well, now you know, your whole marriage is a sham. I mean, mine too.

      Destination weddings suuuuuuck.

  12. Boodiba says:

    I’ve got a degree from the “prestigious” Rhode Island School of Design too, and let me tell you, while it carries real weight in New York City, in the west coast (Portland anyway) no one gives a shit. I’m “If I didn’t have a boyfriend I’d be homeless” level broke.

    I put this here. Illustration, seamless print & pattern (how I made my money in NYC), infographics, logos etc.

    • Millenial says:

      I tend to find that about a lot of “prestigious” schools in New England and New York. I’m from the Mid-West and when I got to grad school in the Mid-Atlantic a lot of people low-key bragged about attending undergrad at these small liberal arts schools in New England that I’d never heard of, and I just was so confused for a while as to why it was such a big deal. It’s definitely a different mindset. I honestly feel bad for kids from competitive high schools in New York, etc… that feel like they have to compete with their peers for spots at these places. Because you are right, in vast portions the country, most won’t be impressed unless you tell them you went to Harvard or something.

    • Lyka says:

      Lovely! The pieces about Henry that cat are just darling!

    • Asiyah says:

      I love “Artist, In Studio.” It looks like a social media filter (but I know it’s not lol)

    • launicaangelina says:

      I love your work!

    • CatJ says:

      You do beautiful work!

    • Hazel says:

      I like your work a lot. Don’t give up!

  13. Wow says:

    Completely off topic but I am seeing flashbacks of the late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s face in her thumbnail picture.

  14. HoustonGrl says:

    Her painting is so cliche, like, it would carry no emotion without that cigarette. I think she feels extremely jaded by her ex and while she’s being candid about marriage in general, she hasn’t come out and said what she’s really angry about. Sounds to me like he cheated.

    • Teebee says:

      It conveys nothing of what she describes. Amateurish, folk arty typical fare for a barely talented fine art grad. Speaking as a fairly talented fine art grad, graduating does not mean good or qualified, just means you had money and the time.

  15. Shelley says:

    She is trying to have it both ways! I do believe sexual harassment and rape are not identical. But I do see sexual harassment as a possible grooming tactic for rape- at least in Weinstein case. In pretty much all of the situations, men constantly pushed the envelope and escalated because they could without being penalized. I think #metoo at this stage is all about shutting all this shit down without apology!
    Her interview about her ex-husband last week was proof of Zinzi’s assessment of her and Lena, they both play at being woke and feminist.

  16. Amelie says:

    Off topic but her accent is so confusing to me. I know she has British parents but she grew up in the States and the few clips I’ve seen of Girls with her character her accent is all over the place. It seems in some she tries for more of an American accent but most of the time she just lets her British inflections slip through and it’s really confusing to listen to. It’s so interesting to me she picked up on so much of her British parents’ accent even though she grew up in the US.

  17. Bliss 51 says:

    One of her sisters is Lola Kirke who played the low life neighbor who stole Amy’s money in Gone Girl. On her IMDB site she says she’s the only one in her family with an American accent. And their mom has a vintage clothing shop in NYC which would explain the clothing in the pictures.

  18. Coco says:

    She looks like Fiona Apple.

  19. Juliaoc says:

    “I can accept that some are progressive, liberal, intellectual women who want to put on a white dress.”

    Is she trying to say that most women who want marriage are *not* progressive/liberal/intellectual? Her marriage failed and this makes her more evolved somehow?

    • FLORC says:

      Passive shade.
      I married for love. I married to blend insurance coverage. I married because that man was the person I wanted that piece of paper to say you have my heart.

  20. Neens says:

    It’s not a surprise her marriage failed. She only married her ex because she got pregnant right after meeting him in rehab.

    Her sister just got married too and seems to be really happy about her decision. Jemima just comes across as bitter and rather juvenile.

  21. raincoaster says:

    I think I’ve already told the story of my friend Ed, whose life was ruined and his future compromised because he married someone who wanted to stay in the country. The government found out, because that’s what they do and they are very good at it, and he will never get a passport again as long as he lives. Which is tragic because his great love lives in Paris, where he has a wonderful, important, and well-paid job and an apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower, all waiting for Ed to come over. And he can’t.

  22. Blackbetty says:

    I don’t blame her for being jaded about marriage. Sounds like her husband betrayed her in some way. She is going through a divorce!

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Read an interview she gave right after the split. She admitted that she started drinking again and he was against it – that was the catalyst for their breakup. He’s sober and she isn’t and doesn’t want to be.

  23. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Everytime she or Lena or any of their privileged white prep school crew open their mouths I think about what Zinzi Clemmons – who went to school with them – said. She was spot on. Your marriage didn’t work out because you married the first dude you met in rehab hun. There’s no mystery to that.

  24. Redgrl says:

    I’ve read what she said three times now and I still don’t understand it. It’s contradictory, illogical and confusing. Which on its own would be ok – sometimes that’s just where you are. But add in the pretension, the jaded entitlement and the dude bro-ish attempt to justify Lena Dunham’s idiotic rambling and it’s just brat overload. If she doesn’t understand that rape/sexual assault/sexual harassment are just different degrees on the spectrum of abusive power over women (usually, but some men too) then she has a lot of growing up to do, imo.

  25. Patty says:

    I thought she was basically saying that on one end if he spectrum people get married out of necessity (green card) and other than end it’s because they want the big party and attention (Sean Parker) and that she understood those two reasons for getting married but was curious about all the reasons people choose to get married in between those two extremes.

    Also she’s not wrong about rape and sexual harassment being two very different things. And she’s also not wrong for pointing out that people want to act as if they are one and the same (they are not).