Love it or hate it, since its start in 2012, the hit HBO series "Girls" has prompted endless conversations about body image, feminism, privilege, millennials, Brooklyn, gentrification — the list goes on. Now as its final season kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 12, we sat down with executive producers Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner to talk about female friendship (especially the Jessa betrayal), narcissism in your 20s and how “Girls” has changed television.
What dothe think the ‘Girls’ legacy is going to be?
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Jenni Konner:I think it was that women were able to tell honest stories about themselves and be more comfortable with their bodies. There’s a long tradition of shows about men who do bad things, but we like them anyway.“Girls” is really one of those shows.
Judd Apatow:[Now there are] more female showrunners and auteurs. Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer; it’s growing, but even ten years ago, there wasn’t a [female] equivalent to Larry David.
Konner:When I’ve been on showrunner panels, I’m usually the one woman. I would say in the last ten years, now there’s two women.
What does the show say about female friendship? The relationships are always shifting and it’s hard to tell who even likes each other.
Konner: That'sthe central question of the show. We’ve always wondered if these people who were just thrown together by circumstance will stay good friends. I don’t know very many people who stayed friends with their friends from college. As we get older, things change.
Especially with the Jessa betrayal.
Apatow:I always find that issue funny because I think that is very specific to women: this idea that anybody I’ve dated, nobody is allowed to come near them even if I’m done with them. Which I notice as I see the world of my daughters.
Konner:But what about the bro code? [Laughs]I would say this was a bigger betrayal: this was the love of Hannah’s life and her best friend. I actually had a hard time with the idea of the story. I resisted. [But] it just always felt like it was going that way. You have these two people [Adam and Jessa] who are so explosive and so impulsive.
Apatow:And the actors [Jemima Kirke, Adam Driver], they have such electricity.
Konner:You were right, they did. But it was hard for me to have Jessa betray Hannah — emotionally hard for me.
Apatow:Why don’t you want Jessa to have love? [Laughs]
Konner:That’s a great question. Because she just started AA and she’s not supposed to?
Do they even really have love or are they just obsessed with each other?
Konner:I think they definitely have love. I don’t know that they’re not going to end up dead, like Sid and Nancy. [Laughs]
When the show started, a popular response was “Oh, look at these privileged millennial brats who can’t get their shit together.” Now they’re almost 30; have they changed?
Konner:They’re still fairly selfish, but I do think they’re getting less narcissistic and more grown up. It’s very incremental; there’s no version of “Girls” where it ends with them all with their shit together. That’s just not our show.
Apatow:That’s what the last season is about: How much do they evolve? And it’s different for every character.
Why write such narcissistic characters? And do you actually like any of them?
Konner:I love them all, and I actually felt like they were the most truthful characters I’d seen since probably “Undeclared.” When I was in my 20s [in New York] I was a temp who wouldn’t even do the work and thought that I deserved better. [Laughs]
Apatow:I think you’re genetically built to be narcissistic in your 20s.You’re trying to get a job, you’re trying to meet someone to spend your life with. It’s allyou you you, just trying to get your world built. And hopefully at some point, whatever you want it to be, it happens and then you calm down a little bit. (I say this as an old man).
Favorite episodes or scenes from the series?
Apatow:I like theBeach House episode[Season 3, Episode 7] where they really have itout. Wegot to say a lot of things we were thinking through everyone yelling at everybody. Andrew Rannells and Danny Strong were so funny.
Konner:Plus, just doing adance sequencewas really fun. [Laughs]
One of my favorites is the scene in [Season 1, Episode 7:Welcome to Bushwick aka the Crackcident] when we think Hannah — she’s been our narrator this whole time and we think Adam’s this selfish dick, and he turns to her and says, “You don’t ask me anything about me, you don’t care about me." Then you’re just like, “Oh. Hannah’s an unreliable narrator.”
What do you hope viewers will take away from the show?
Apatow:I hope it inspires people to want to write. For women to run their own shows and be directors. I see my daughters — they’re 19 and 14 — and how inspired they are by Lena and Jenni.
Konner:Lena and I had a meeting once with a writer and she said, “Since I started watching ‘Girls’ I’m comfortable enough to have sex on top. [Laughs] And that actually really moved me.
Apatow:Wait, women get on top? [Laughs]
Konner:I’m not sure I want that to be the legacy but I do think Lena has been so amazing for body positivity. I feel really, really proud of that.