We’re sitting across from Lena Dunham, comparing chipped manicures. In that moment, it’s almost as if she’s just your average 26-year-old. But Dunham — the creator, director, executive producer, writer and star of HBO’s wildly successful “Girls” — is anything but.
Last season, critics and viewers alike were smitten with Dunham’s fresh take on the lives of 20-somethings in New York City. As she put together Season 2, which premieres Sunday, Dunham says she wasn’t fazed by everyone’s expectations.
“I know that would be an easy emotion to get in touch with if you let it run wild, but I really wanted to keep the environment safe for everyone on set,” she says. “I really wanted to also not start using Twitter or fan reaction to sculpt the story. You want to keep everyone engaged and give them what they came for, but you need to push for it creatively.”
Inside her creative bubble, Dunham can steer clear of what people are saying about the show.
“I tried to keep a lot of it out. It’s hard, obviously — all the sort of, like, sociopolitical debate around it gets exhausting,”?she says, acknowledging somewhat the criticism about a lack of diversity in the cast. “You want to satisfy everyone but also keep yourself safe from that kind of constant scrutiny.”
But she did appreciate the positive notes she received from viewers. “It’s nice to know which characters people respond to, and that people are excited about the Hannah/Adam relationship, and I wanted to push that forward,”?she says. “But I felt lucky that I was still able to stay isolated and just keep moving.”
And keep the show moving, she does. This season brings a new boyfriend for Hannah and new work problems for Marnie, plus life adjustments for the recently wed Jessa and newly de-virginized Shoshanna. And though the characters are in a constant state of 20-something flux, Dunham does think that one of her girls has herself figured out a bit more than the others.
“It’s funny, I used to think it was Marnie — that seemed like the obvious answer,” Dunham says of the preppy art gallery employee. “But I’m gonna say something crazy, which is that in some ways I think Jessa is, like, the most self-actualized person. She is so in touch with her core that it’s like, yes, sometimes she goes off to France without notice, but that’s because she’s in touch with the part of herself that isn’t happy where she is.”
Wherever the characters find themselves this season, viewers can expect at least one thing: envelope-pushing. Says Dunham, “I think we actually got a little more experimental because we kind of felt like, let’s push this even further.”