What did they learn making season 1 of the HBO comedy? And how do they feel about James Franco, TV critic?
Even by the standards of a national approach to popular culture where we build people up quickly only to tear them down just as quickly, the roller coaster of good and bad hype for Lena Dunham
was pretty extreme. Before the show premiere, TV critics were falling over themselves to come up with new superlatives for it. (Mine was
"it may, in fact, be the best new HBO comedy since 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'") Almost immediately after it debuted, there was a backlash to the show (and to the reviews), then a backlash to the backlash, a backlash to the backlash to the backlash, etc.
The praise and pans kept flying back and forth, back and forth, and all the while Dunham and showrunning partner Jenni Konner just kept working on the show, first finishing up the 10 episodes of season 1, then seguing almost immediately to production on season 2. And because the two of them in general — and Dunham in particular, who co-writes every episode, stars in all of them and directs many of them — are so busy making "Girls," they were able to exist in a bubble about the feedback — but only to a point. Dunahm says she tries to do "half press avoidance," but can only avoid so much — especially since her mother likes to forward her press clippings.
So when I sat down with Dunham and Konner for a bookend to the interview
we did before the season, it was in the context of me having seen the entire first season (here's my review of the season finale
), and of them being aware of most, if not all, of the good and bad things people had been saying about it. Over a long lunch — I should warn you, this transcript clocks in at close to 9,000 words, so I've broken it up into sections for those who want to read it piecemeal — we talked about the reaction to the series, about the ways the show and their working relationship evolved, lessons learned that will be applied to season 2, Dunham's weight loss (thanks to better eating habits and a daily spin class, she's noticeably slimmer than when the first season was filmed), and more, all coming up just as soon as I'm wearing two plaids...
It turned out this interview may have been the point at which word limits actually do matter on the Internet, as it keeps being cut off before the end. So I'm splitting it up into two parts, with the first three sections down below, and the next two here
. Sorry for the confusion.