The final season of “Girls” doesn’t premiere until next year, but creator Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner are already quantifying their tear volume in terms of lakes and rivers. Konner, Dunham and HBO VP of original programming Kathleen McCaffrey took the stage at the New York TV Festival creative keynote at the SVA Theater in Manhattan on Thursday night to talk all things “Girls.”
Well, almost all things. The women remained tight-lipped about what’s to come on the final season, but they did reminisce some about the process of making a show that may have garnered more think pieces than viewers, but has clearly become an indelible part of our pop-cultural fabric. Here’s what we learned:
– As he must in seemingly every conversation, Donald Trump came up in the form of a question about what episode the trio would want to show him. Dunham immediately answered with “One Man’s Trash,” the Season 2 episode in which Patrick Wilson guest stars as an older neighbor who has a weekend fling with Hannah. “Just to bust open what a cool guy is and what makes a woman a ’10,'” Dunham said. “I just want to f— with his mind.”
Konner is of the opinion Trump doesn’t deserve to watch the show.
-Dunham still doesn’t have a filter, and she’s fine with that. “I’ve literally no impulse control. It’s great I don’t try to cut my own hair anymore,” she said, launching into an anecdote about being so impatient to get a haircut as a child that she would just do it herself, moments after deciding she needed one. “Twitter and public life have just been an extension of needing that haircut right now.”
Or, as Konner put it, “That’s one of the best things about Lena, is that her brand is ‘Live and Learn.’ She’ll say something and it might seem reckless, and people will say, ‘This is what’s wrong with what you said,’ and she will thoughtfully consider and ask other people in her world what they think and she will apologize — or not. But she considers herself a work in progress.”
-Dunham gave the girls alliterative names: Marnie Marie Michaels, Hannah Helene Horvath, Jessa Joan Johannsen and Shoshana Sharon Shapiro. “I’m embarrassed about it now,” Dunahm said. “But at the time I was like, ‘This is the coolest.'”
-Adam and Hannah are not meant to be an example for young couples — and Dunham doesn’t understand why anyone uses them as one. “When people say ‘Adam is my dream man,’ I think, ‘What hath we wrought?'” Dunham said. “They’ve been abusing the sh– out of each other for years. I’m worried I glorified the relationships that destroyed me in my early twenties.”
-In response to concerns about the monochromatic nature of the cast, Konner and Dunham said they would do things differently if they could go back in time. “We would never cast this like this again,” Konner said.
“We never want to have a poster with four white girls ever again,” Dunham added. “It’s something we absorbed and care about and would do it differently.”
-HBO seldom gave harsh notes. “We’re so much harder on ourselves than HBO ever could be,” Dunham said. Even so, McCaffrey provided a sort of character compass for the pair. “Kat is deeply committed to the female friendships in the show. There was a lot of taking care of the characters on her part,” Konner said.
Perhaps the biggest was when now-head of programming Casey Bloys advised Konner and Dunham not to just focus the Season 3 premiere on Jessa, and to check in on the other characters. They ignored his advice, got to the end of the season, realized he was right, and hastily wrote some new pages for the other characters to shoot and insert into the episode. “He was right, but he always lets us work it out ourselves, like a really good dad,” Konner said.
-McCaffrey was an assistant to Konner’s agent at UTA. When Konner asked her dad what she should get her agent for Christmas, her dad told her to forget about the agents — “They make enough money” — and instead get the assistants presents. Konner gave McCaffrey a $300 gift certificate to The Grove in L.A.
After McCaffrey was hired at HBO and was developing “Girls,” she remembered Konner’s gift and knew Konner was the one for the showrunning job. ” “No ‘her credits are perfect,'” McCaffrey said. “It was just, ‘I want to hang out with these two people.'”
McCaffrey is still saving the gift certificate for the right occasion.