Mad Men's hipster trades pretention for naivete in new HBO 'it show' Girls
First of all, [creator, writer and director] Lena [Dunham]’s vision is such an exceptional starting-off point. It already comes from a place of such reality and depth. We made a show about what it’s like to be in your early twenties, and we wanted to show that in all of its awkward, disgusting, uncomfortable, dark glory. We don’t pull any punches.
Lena and I talk all the time about random specifics about her. Like, one day we decided she has IBS and is super ashamed of it. So yes, she is all of those things – Jappy and obsessed with Sex and the City – but I also think she’s just a very insecure, very sheltered young human who wants so desperately to be cool.
I knew girls like her. I think it’s kind of a universal rule that girls between [the age of] 12 and whenever they decide [to stop being mean] are viciously cruel. We can be pretty evil to our own kind. I went to a strict elementary school with nuns, and uniforms that I’m pretty sure were made out of sandpaper. It was an academic, sports-oriented place. I liked to read, and wanted to act, and didn’t try out for volleyball. I was weird. The other girls would dip my hair in ink and stuff.
No. Joyce is an arrogant hipster of her time, whose behavior is most likely a function of some sort of deep insecurity. But Shoshanna is just insecure. I think she’s constantly looking for validation, and wears her insecurity on her sleeve because as much as she’d like to, she can’t hide it. Shoshanna just wants people to like her, or to be asked on a date.
The straight man is super important – somebody’s gotta pitch the ball. But it’s bloody hard, too, to try and be unintentionally funny and not give yourself away. And to not step on anyone else’s punchline. For me, it’s always a game of doing as little as I possibly can and letting the writing do its job. It’s not so hard to play the straight man when you have writers like ours putting fabulous lines in your mouth. It’s hard not to help it [along], though. I remember hearing an older actor at a dinner party when I was little talking about that saying: “The hardest thing to do on stage is nothing.” It’s true.
We knew we would be compared to Sex and the City – same network, four girls, Manhattan. But the show truly couldn’t be more different, and I think that comes across pretty immediately when you watch it. We all love Sex and the City, we grew up watching it; it was a brilliant show. But those were women a decade-plus older than we are, dealing with very different issues. I don’t think we felt like it was something we had to prepare for; I mean, we even give a major nod to it in the first episode. I think the show kind of speaks for itself. It’s its own beast.
I would have been miserable in college. I always hated school. And I always knew what I wanted to do. If anything, I feel like I have a bit of a leg up. I never went to sleep-away camp – I’m much more [regretful] about that. I’m actually not sure I’ll ever get over that one. Watching The Parent Trap always makes me cry with jealousy.
Girls screens Sundays at 8.30pm on Showcase from May 28.