To say that the “Girls” panel at the TCA winter press tour on Thursday (Jan. 9) was contentious would be a bit of an understatement. From word one, creator Lena Dunham and executive producers Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner were on the defensive regarding a handful of criticisms reporters were all too pleased to lob at the just renewed HBO dramedy.
“I have a question for Ms. Dunham,” the very first query began. “I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show, by you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones.’ But I get why there’s nudity. They’re doing it to be salacious and, you know, to titillate people. And your character is often naked just at random time for no reason.”
“It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, and I totally get it if you’re not into it and that’s your problem,” Dunham retorts.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” Apatow chimes in. “Does she like you? Let’s see how she likes you when you quote that with your question — just write the whole question as you stated it. Let’s see how it goes tonight.”
And the fun didn’t stop there. The very next question sent Dunham’s way was whether or not she even liked her characters. “Yeah. I love them,” she says before adding, “I never want to pull out the sexism trump card, but I think there’s been a lot of license for men to act a lot of really ugly ways in film and television, and I feel so lucky that we’re not held to any standard sort of sweet and female decency. We get to depict these girls in all their flaws.”
Next fun inquiry: Do Dunham and Co. even want people to sympathize with these jerkwads they’ve created? “Well, I think there’s a normal human compassion for people’s struggle to get through the day, get through life, get their s*** together,” Apatow answers. “You root for them to figure it out, but they make a lot of mistakes along the way, just like, I think, anybody you know in life. These aren’t that weird mistakes. Cheating on your boyfriend, experimenting with drugs or trying to figure out what kind of sex you like or what job you like. It’s not really that shocking. They’re not really selling meth or anything.”
“It’s funny because people say a lot, like, ‘How do I sympathize with them?'” Dunham adds. “Well, you seem to like Walter White.”
Oh, and lest you think that first questioner was let off the hook after the initial question, he was returned to by Konner a full 15 minutes deep into the panel. “I literally was spacing out,” she offers up during an answer to a question to the fluidity of the show, “because I’m in such, like, a rage spiral about that guy.”
“I’m so sorry, I really don’t mean to disrespect you,” she continues. “I was just looking at him and going into a rage at the idea that he would even talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. It just makes me sort of sick, and so I apologize to everyone. I’m gonna try to focus now, but if I space out, it will be because of that guy.”
Can you say awkward?
“Girls” returns for Season 3 on Sunday (Jan. 12) at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.