PaleyFest 2015: Our Recap Of The Girls Panel

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Sunday, March 8th (1:00pm)

Moderator: Judd Apatow (Executive Producer)

Panelists: Lena Dunham (Creator & EP), Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Alex Karpovsky, Andrew Rannells, Jenni Konner (EP), Bruce Eric Kaplan (EP), Murray Miller (EP), Ilene S. Landress (EP), Sarah Heyward (Co-Producer), Jason Kim (Staff Writer)

 

Everyone has an opinion on Girls. Right from the start, today’s Girls panel focused on the media frenzy that seems to surround every mention of the show. Dunham said that she maintains stability among all the craziness by focusing on the show, not the circus around it. “Until this moment,” she said, gesturing to the audience, “we don’t believe anyone is actually watching.”

As part of her effort to focus on the show and not the surrounding hubbub, Dunham also said that she doesn’t look at her own Twitter account anymore. Instead, she sends the text of her tweets to someone else to post, so that she doesn’t have to see the negativity that often comes her way. “You think you can take it all … but it does affect you internally.”

In contrast, the actors said that when people approach them in person, they’re usually very positive. “People only come up to me if they have something nice to say,” Alex Karpovsky said. He and Andrew Rannels both described the level of recognition they get these days as feeling slightly unreal. (Though Dunham did tell a story about one less-than-humble interaction between Karpovsky and fans—one time, she teased him by telling the girls he was talking to on the street that they were speaking to one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive, only for one of the girls to respond, “I know! He already told us.”)

But most of the panel was about the show itself—the characters, plot, actors, and writers. Topics ranged from the amount of improv they do on the show (“Bunches,” said Allison Williams) to how the writers and actors negotiate graphic sex scenes. Dunham said that Williams—whose character, she thinks, has had the most on-screen sexual encounters—is game to do anything. Williams and Rannels both agreed that the writers never ask them to do things that don’t belong in the story, with Williams pointing to Marnie and Desi’s notorious sex scene from the season four premiere as a prime example. “Desi said ‘I love that,’ and Marnie said, ‘I love you too,’” Williams said. “Twelve seconds, and you have everything you need to know about those characters.”

Dunham and Jenni Konner also discussed the way their political beliefs influence the show. “We don’t set out to be didactic, but the natural truth of our politics shows through,” said Dunham. Williams said that she thinks that politics on the show are dealt with organically; characters argue, disagree, and change their minds. Dunham said that she loves moments in pop culture when people say they’ve changed their mind. “It’s a gift you can give people, when you say, ‘Yes, I’ve learned.’”

The audience questions portion of the panel was a little quippier. In response to a question about when Marnie is going to do drugs like the other girls have, Williams said, “Marnie on any kind of hallucinogens would be so destructive it would end the show.” Konner, answering a question about whether the Girls characters would be friends with the Broad City characters, said yes, but that the Girls characters would think they were more sophisticated and try to give Abbi and Ilana advice, “which the Broad City girls would smartly not listen to.” Other audience members asked about transcendental meditation and how Konner and Dunham met. (“Our agents introduced us,” Dunham said. “It’s embarrassing, like meeting on Match.com.”)

The question that cut to the heart of the matter the most, by my estimation, was how the writers balance writing a feminist show with real, sometimes annoying female characters. Dunham was, of course, ready with an answer: “We have an essential view that being complex or annoying is a right of women on television.”

 

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