Lena Dunham and HBO Max Address Controversy Over Generation’s Animal Dissection Scene

Lena Dunham and HBO Max have addressed claims that two extras walked off the set of Generation while filming a scene that involved the dissection of real cat corpses.

By Lindsay Weinberg Feb 10, 2021 1:42 AMTags
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Lena Dunham's upcoming TV show is facing criticism for using real dead cats on set.

The HBO Max series Generation, which Lena is executive producing, had actors dissect cat corpses during a scene that takes place in a high school biology class, according to a Variety report published Tuesday, Feb. 9. The network later confirmed the incident and said two of the extras left because of their discomfort.

Lena was not on set because she is in London directing the movie Catherine, Called Bird, starring Fleabag's Andrew Scott

After social media users and animal rights activists became outraged, the Girls alum gave a statement to Variety to explain the issue.

Lena said, "I am committed in my life and work to the principled, humane and ethical treatment of animals. I don't use animal cadavers in any of my work, ever, and I was not on set or aware that they were used in a recently shot scene depicting a biology classroom assignment."

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HBO Max told Variety that after discussing the blunder with the creative team, they decided the scene is being "reconceived" and will not appear onscreen.

Lena noted, "I fully support the scene being edited out of the show."

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An HBO Max spokesperson said the team members "deeply regret that this occurred."

In a statement, the spokesperson said, "Genera+ion depicts the unfiltered experiences of high school students and is drawn from many formative moments in the lives of the show's writers. The production recently filmed scenes depicting a biology classroom assignment involving dissection of animal specimens. These were ethically sourced in consultation with American Humane via a biological supply company that works with schools."

It continued, "Everyone involved was informed in advance that this would be a sensitive scene involving a real dissection; the assistant directors checked in regularly with all participants on set, and two background actors who expressed discomfort were released with full pay." 

Generation was created by teen Zelda Barnz and her dad Daniel Barnz. According to the 19 year old's Instagram bio, Zelda is part of the Yale University class of 2025. 

The show's Instagram page shared its first post on Tuesday after the controversy. The teaser included the caption, "raise your [hand emoji] if your tolerance for giving a f--k is at an all-time low." 

Generation aims to explore teen sexuality in an authentic way, with Zelda writing on Instagram in 2019, "I have wanted to tell stories from the minute I could talk. This means everything to me." 

E! News reached out to HBO Max and Lena's rep for comment.

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