Lena Dunham’s new HBO comedy ‘Girls’ keeps it real

“Girls” premieres Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.

For the record, Lena Dunham is a fan of “Sex and the City.”

“‘Girls’” is a show that couldn’t exist without ‘Sex and the City’ and is about girls who grew up watching ‘SATC,’ but is not directly linked to ‘SATC,’” Dunham says about the highly anticipated new HBO series she created, wrote, directs and stars in. Unlike the fab, Manolo-filled lives of Carrie and co., “Girls” is about four 20-somethings fumbling through life in Brooklyn. Wannabe writer Hannah, played by Dunham, and her besties glamorize a different New York, one where blog writers are subsidized by mom and dad and affairs take place on couches in Prospect Heights rather than at the Ritz.

“‘SATC’ characters are always going to be archetype for women in New York, but we are covering a different age range,” Dunham explains. “This show just has a different energy.”

Dunham’s New York is populated by entitled youth who have awkward sex, both subjects she also explored in her 2010 breakthrough movie “Tiny Furniture,” which won the Narrative Feature Film Award at SXSW and charmed HBO executives. The film was based on her post-college experience lingering around her parents’ Tribeca loft while trying to find herself, a similar sentiment shared by Hannah  — but one not all viewers may be sympathetic to.

“Some of these issues might seem ‘hashtag: white girl problems,’ but I also think that some of that is real,” Dunham insists. “Hannah is self-aware about some of it and not about some of it, much the way people are in real life. We’re saying it’s OK to laugh at her. It’s OK to criticize her.”

Even if Hannah’s family life isn’t entirely relatable, the candor with which the show examines relationships will be. Sex scenes are graphic and cringe-worthy; in one shot, Dunham is naked and on her knees. Throughout the series, she doesn’t shy away from  opportunities to brazenly bare her larger-than-Size-2 body.

“Because historically the women who do sex scenes look a certain way, there is something inherently political about putting a body that doesn’t look that way onto the screen,” she explains. “That was sort of the impetus starting out. My character doesn’t look like a model, and my character has sex — those are two facts of the show and facts of many young women’s lives.”

Voice of a generation

Despite Hannah’s lofty declaration, “I might be the voice of my generation,” in the “Girls” pilot, Lena Dunham swears she has no such goals.
   
“I’ve never felt that way,” she says. “When I conceived the show I [just thought] I was speaking to smart girls who are looking for depictions of themselves that they haven’t seen on TV before.”

Bathroom bonding

Of all the conversation-sparking scenes in the “Girls” premiere episode, one in particular sticks out. We had to know: Why does Hannah eat a cupcake in the bathtub?

“It makes so much sense to me,” Dunham laughs. “It’s just so funny because I was just like, ‘Obviously, if you’re late to go to work in the morning and you have poor nutritional habits you’re going to eat your breakfast hanging out of the shower, and it’s going to be a cupcake.’ It just made sense to me. Kudos to you, if you’ve never eaten food in the bath and/or shower. I thought everyone had. So that to me was one of those things where I’m like, ‘It’s so relatable eating food in the shower,’ and then people don’t get it.”


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