Some ‘Girls’ talk with Lena Dun­ham as fi­nal sea­son be­gins

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - FRA­ZIER MOORE

NEW YORK — Let’s go surf­ing! The fi­nal sea­son of “Girls” be­gins with Hannah, the se­ries’ ever-outto-prove-her­self writer, brav­ing sand, sun­block and neo­prene for the sake of a mag­a­zine as­sign­ment.

As usual with this com­edy of over-bright 20-some­things search­ing for them­selves, the episode feels re­li­ably true-to-char­ac­ter yet un­pre­dictable as Hannah gains a mea­sure of per­sonal in­sight that ex­tends beyond her lack of acu­men on a surf­board.

It pre­mières Sun­day at 10 p.m. EST on HBO.

De­but­ing in 2012, the se­ries in­stantly be­came a cul­tural touch­stone as it charted the Brook­lyn­based ad­ven­tures of Marnie (played by Allison Williams), Jessa ( Jemima Kirke), Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and Lena Dun­ham, who, be­sides star­ring as Hannah, was also the se­ries’ creator as well as writer, pro­ducer, di­rec­tor and its over­all cre­ative well­spring.

Dur­ing a re­cent chat with The As­so­ci­ated Press, Dun­ham talked about this concluding sea­son, the five sea­sons be­fore, and the alien ex­pe­ri­ence of surf­ing in New York. A lit­tle too gnarly? Sure, cer­tain beaches on Long Is­land draw a surf­ing crowd con­spic­u­ously out­fit­ted with sleek physiques.

It’s a dif­fer­ent story in the nearby ur­ban canyons.

“If you live in New York City, you al­most for­get you have a body,” Dun­ham de­clares. “You’re just walk­ing around try­ing to get ev­ery- where, like a float­ing head mak­ing your way through crowds.” Hard times Film­ing of “Girls” wrapped for good last Septem­ber. Then Dun­ham went straight into stump­ing for Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“When the show was over, I had taken all my cre­ative en­ergy and put it into campaigning. Then it was: ‘Hil­lary Clin­ton’s not pres­i­dent. Our TV show’s over. Don­ald Trump is in con­trol of the free world. I guess I’ll be stay­ing in bed to­day.’” A fine time Film­ing the last sea­son was “over­whelm­ing and beau­ti­ful and nos­tal­gic and at times deeply dis­ori­ent­ing,” says Dun­ham.

For much of its run, “Girls” was “the only thing and ev­ery­thing I had,” she says, “which is part of why sep­a­rat­ing from it is so com­pli­cated. But I feel re­ally lucky be­cause, so of­ten, a huge marker of your 20s is feel­ing like you don’t have a place to put your pas­sion and your en­ergy, and like you don’t have a way to feel seen. I never had to strug­gle with that.

“I did sort of strug­gle with go­ing to brunch with my friends. I wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily the great­est at the things that are sup­posed to mark your 20s — mo­ments where you let your­self drift on the tide, even when you’re in pain, and you con­nect with peo­ple and go to a party with­out know­ing ex­actly what time you need to be home. I didn’t have that ex­pe­ri­ence.”

In short, Dun­ham isn’t Hannah, de­spite the fact that she did her job so well the dis­tinc­tion was fre- quently lost on “Girls” view­ers.

“Hannah got to be Hannah, and I got to pre­tend to be her,” Dun­ham ex­plains. “Pre­tend­ing to be her at a party was bet­ter for me than ac­tu­ally be­ing at a party. As a re­sult, I got ev­ery­thing I needed in my 20s. I had a dif­fer­ent, re­ally amaz­ing, ex­pe­ri­ence.” “Write” of pas­sage Dun­ham is a writer who can turn out a “Girls” script in a night, and whose sure­ness of vi­sion as re­flected in the show seems beyond dis­pute.

“But I’ve had mo­ments of cri­sis and doubt about the show,” she read­ily ac­knowl­edges, “and I’ve had mo­ments of cri­sis and doubt that comes from be­ing ages 23 to 30, which is a time rife with crises and doubt — which is what our en­tire show was about.”

She was 23 when she started writ­ing the pi­lot script, and turned 25 while the first sea­son was in pro­duc­tion.

Last June, as the fi­nal sea­son was shoot­ing, she crossed the Great Divide to leave her 20s be­hind. She has no fur­ther press­ing need for 20s-gen­er­ated cri­sis and doubt. She says be­ing 30 comes as a re­lief. No longer a prodigy That’s not a word Dun­ham con­dones, but based on her early and mul­ti­fac­eted suc­cess, she has been hailed as some­thing of a wun­derkind.

Maybe for her fu­ture projects she’ll be judged on dif­fer­ent terms: as an artist for whom age is no longer worth con­sid­er­ing.

“I’ve got a lot of ideas and a lot of things to say,” she says when asked what might be ahead. “Whether they’re in the form of books or plays or per­for­mance art that’s done in the cor­ner of my par­ents’ garage, I don’t know. I may not have an­other cul­tural-light­ning-rod tele­vi­sion show in me, and I wouldn’t be up­set if I didn’t, be­cause that’s not an ex­pe­ri­ence you need to re­peat over and over in your life. I don’t feel an over­whelm­ing pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with mak­ing sure that what­ever comes next matches the scale of ‘Girls.’” Hannah’s last lap But whither Hannah in th­ese last 10 episodes of her ma­tur­ing 20-some­thing­ness?

“We re­ally tried to do both of the things that are glo­ri­ous about any fi­nal sea­son, which is wrap ev­ery­body up in a thought­ful way that makes you feel like you’ve com­pleted a real jour­ney with them — and also, do what the show has al­ways done, which is not be tidy.

“Those two things are kind of at odds,” Dun­ham al­lows. “But I don’t think any­one’s done a se­ries fi­nale like we did. It’s a very dif­fer­ent ver­sion of end­ing a se­ries.”

But that’s months down the line. Right now, surf ’s up! Hannah — and “Girls” view­ers — are hit­ting the beach!

CRAIG BLANKENHORN, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Lena Dun­ham in a scene from “Girls.” The sixth and fi­nal sea­son pre­mières Sun­day at 10 p.m. EST on HBO.

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