Emmys: ‘Girls’ Seeks Honesty, Not Controversy

Producers strive to tell true stories, however painful

Girls Emmy Comedy

Of all the memorable scenes that played out during season two of HBO’s “Girls” — the performance art sex scene tinged with S&M, the fantasy sex weekend that began at a trash bin among them — it was the infamous Q-Tip interlude that was the most challenging.

Auds likely still have the scenes of Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, painfully wrestling with her ear situation seared into their memories. Even exec producer Jenni Konner admits it was difficult.

“Personally, I still can’t watch the Q-Tip scene,” Konner says. “I had my eyes closed when we shot it.”

“Girls,” nominated for the second year for comedy series, has created almost as much controversy as comedy. One episode shows Hannah being told to go outside her comfort zone as a writer, which results in a cocaine-fueled night when she publicly exposes herself and lets down her friends.

“We’re always surprised by which moments become the lightning rods each season,” says Konner, who co-wrote three of the second season’s 10 episodes. “We’re not setting out to stir up controversy, but when it happens, we just hope it means that it’s landing with the audience. Plus, we get way more Twitter followers.”

For show creator Dunham, who toplines, writes and directs the skein, chronicling the peaks and valleys of the relationships among Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna is more challenging than depicting their relationships with the men in their lives.

Dunham has said one of the things that has frustrated her about female relationships on television is that the portrayals suggest that once they are best friends, they remain that way, whereas her view is that being in a best-friendship is a tough and volatile relationship.

In the season finale, none of the four main female characters interact on screen.

Hannah hides from Marnie, who comes to her apartment to check on her and her perforated eardrum. She sees what Hannah has begun writing, “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.”

“What I like about the show is that Lena is a truth teller,” Konner says. “I think her honesty makes people pay attention.”

If “Girls” tops its competitors and takes home the Emmy, Konner says it would be a validation that it connects with the audience in a very real way.

“We have an amazing cast and crew that deserve every bit of recognition they get,” she says. “That said, I was a PA on the Emmys, so I’m not sure any trophy will beat getting coffee for (producer) Danny Zuker.”