Girls: Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner break down the series finale
WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the series finale of Girls.
Tonight, we had to say goodbye to HBO’s Girls (sniff!) and is anyone else already missing Hannah (Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Shoshana (Zosia Mamet), and Jessa (Jemima Kirke)?
We caught up with creator Lena Dunham and EP Jenni Konner — creative collaborators and spiritual sisters — to break down the series finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It must feel bittersweet to say goodbye after all this time.
LENA DUNHAM: Jenni and I just had our seven-year anniversary! That’s a number I’m much more apt to keep track of because I’m way cheesier. I remember sitting on the floor of Jenni’s apartment as she explained to me how you make an outline. [Laughs.]
You’ve mentioned before that you knew how you wanted the series to end well before you started this season.
JENNI KONNER: Yes, Lena has been talking about it forever!
DUNHAM: Wendy Wasserstein became a massive influence for me. The Heidi Chronicles was one of the first examples to me of a woman who was telling her story in an incredibly personal and specific way. I like that she reimagined what the rules would be for a woman like that. There was always some sense that for Hannah, finality didn’t have to do with a traditional romantic partnership, but it did have to do with some kind of partnership. And the most selfless partnership you take on is when you have a child — that’s something that seemed like it would be a really interesting thing to see a notoriously selfish person try their hand at. You know, when I’ve dipped onto Twitter, I see a lot of people saying she’s going to be the worst mother. But it’s so funny, ’cause, you know, you need a license to drive a car but not to be a mother. There’s definitely people who are way less equipped than she is to take this job on.
KONNER: Like everyone on every Showtime show.
DUNHAM: That’s the best insider industry joke I’ve heard this week!
There was an episode earlier this season when Hannah revealed she was pregnant and the assumption — by Patrick Wilson’s character as well as many audience members — was that she’d get an abortion.
KONNER: In my mind, that was the first moment when Hannah, being so contrary, was like, “Well, maybe I’m not.” Him making that assumption sent her into considering it.
DUNHAM: She’s a real you-go-left-and-I’ll-go-right person. This was just the most dramatic and consequential example of that.
KONNER: It was a very emotional story to tell. All of a sudden, Hannah — accused of narcissism every second of her life and rightfully so — now has real stakes to think about. It’s a mature move to leave the city. She came, she tried it, and this is the right choice for her and her child. It’s mature to leave at an age when you all promise each other in some secret vow that you are going to stay in New York and tough it out no matter how hard it is.
DUNHAM: She came, she saw, she did not conquer, and she understood that it was time to do something different. It’s a real challenge to the notion that once you are in New York, that you can’t have a life and existence outside. And I know a lot of people who have really come into their own and become the best version of themselves when they’ve left the sort of expectation of a creative life in New York City.
How daunting is it to try and land a series ending?
KONNER: We didn’t sleep for like six months.
DUNHAM: Jenni was directing it and she had a super clear idea about what she wanted to do and the feeling she wanted to evoke, but we weren’t exactly clear how to get there plot-wise. There was this night where we were talking about about it and talking about it and talking about it. Jenni had taken some passes on it, [fellow EP Judd Apatow] had taken passes on it, and since that first outlining session with Jenni in her house seven years ago, I had never really sat down with a million cards and laid them out. I was supposed to meet Jenni at dinner, and I was like, actually, I can’t leave the house, I am possessed by a fever. I sat down with the cards and it felt so full circle.
It felt like either the penultimate episode or this last episode could have served as the finale.
KONNER: That was something Judd came up with fairly early while plotting the season: Episode 9 would be the traditional finale and then the 10th would be as if there was some imagined spin-off that will never be.
Hannah on the Hudson?
DUNHAM: Like Anne of Green Gables but sluttier. [Laughs] But yeah, we wanted the sense that there was a version which satisfied people who wanted the more traditional TV wrap-it-up conclusion. And then there’s the version that is true to the messiness we’ve always approached [with] our characters .
Did you take into account any fan expectations or ‘shipping, like with Hannah and Adam or Ray and Shoshanna?
KONNER: We wanted to satisfy ourselves. With Hannah and Adam, we had unfinished business that we needed to see. We knew that they are not going to grow old together — they needed closure.
DUNHAM: With Ray and Shosh, it’s so funny — we always felt like they were best friends. She lost her virginity to him! That’s probably not going to be the person that she ends up with. She needed to have other experiences and they’ll always really love each other. That will-they-or-won’t-they was something that the audience was feeling more than us. We always thought of them as friends.
You gave Ray a pretty great happy ending in the form of one Aidy Bryant.
DUNHAM: Who could be luckier than to spend their lives with Aidy Bryant? We love her. We basically wrote those Japan episodes just so we could hang out with her in Japan.
So much of the show is about female friendships in your 20s and how they tend to shift and change over the years. I love that you made the decision that it would be Shoshanna who would be like, “Nope, I’m done.”
KONNER: She’s been feeling it for a long time, probably since the beach house episode. That was in her anger phase and now she’s in her acceptance phase. Also, she was Jessa’s younger cousin — she wasn’t quite on their level at the beginning, and I think she always felt different than [the others].
In terms of traditional finales, the last conversation between Jessa and Hannah was very emotional. Yet it was only Marnie who made it into the final episode.
KONNER: I think Jessa and Hannah have hurt each other too much at this point to really be friends. And, I don’t think you want your theoretical co-parent to be Jessa. [Laughs.] We always said Marnie and Hannah were the true love story of the show. Marnie’s personality is such that she was not going to let anyone else [help Hannah with her baby]. If it was going to be someone, it was going to be her. She’s looking for answers. It’s not like she’s in a healthy spot in the world.
I love that Hannah named the baby Grover after all.
KONNER: Lena came in and said, “It’s Grover.” And were all like, “Yes, that makes sense. Of course it’s Grover! That’s something Hannah would do.” Then, when we were filming the Paul-Louis scene, we were like, “Let’s have him suggest the name Grover so he has some connection to the child in a long-term way.”
DUNHAM: It sounds like the right name for a surf instructor to give his child.
KONNER: As Lena said, his idea probably came from Sesame Street.
There was something about the last episode that really made me think about that weird window in a woman’s life when you suddenly cross from being a “Miss” to a “Ma’am” without realizing it.
DUNHAM: The first time I was called ma’am, I remember calling Jenni really upset. That encounter got a little bit based on what we did in the finale: There was a girl locked outside my parents’ apartment in Manhattan, and she had no shoes on, and she was weeping into the telephone because her roommate wasn’t home and she was just in New York for the summer to go to ballet school. She said, “Can I use your phone, ma’am?” I gave her my phone, and she was on the phone and her mom must have asked whose cell phone was she on, and she said, “Some lady’s.” Some. Lady! [Laughs.]
And then there is that final look we see on Hannah’s face in the final seconds.
KONNER: That look is not about breastfeeding. We’re not trying to come down on the side of breastfeeding or not breastfeeding! We have as much opinion about that as we do about people’s abortions: your body, do your own thing. That look is, I’ve got this. In the pilot, she is the brattiest girl and explaining to her parents why she deserves money more than other people. In the end, she’s giving a teenage girl advice and telling her to respect her mother. So, she’s really grown up.
DUNHAM: It only took her seven years!
Is there any truth to the rumors that you’d bring these characters back for a movie?
KONNER: People ask us in interviews, “Would you be open to a movie?” Of course we would! But that is as far as that rumor has gone. It’s not like there are any conversations happening. I also think it would have to be a little while. We couldn’t even do the finale without jumping in time a little. If we came back, there would have to be a good amount of time passed.
What about the rumblings that there could be a spin-off with Andrew Rannells’ character, Elijah?
DUNHAM: We’ve gotten a lot of requests for it, that part is true.
KONNER: That’s a big Twitter request. We’d do it in a heartbeat because he’s the most talented person on earth. But there are no plans for it. But please feel free to pitch it to HBO.
Are you guys ready to reveal what you might want to work on together next?
KONNER: We do, but we can’t. We’re still trying to get the rights.
DUNHAM: I’ll say that I do think it’s kind of perfect because it’s the kind of comedy that we are known for and also taking a leap forward contentwise, so we are pretty stoked.
This has been a really beloved season of Girls — I hope that sentiment has reached you.
KONNER: It has reached us. It’s been the biggest gift of my life.
DUNHAM: We’re super grateful. I think if we were capable — as two Jewish women — of experiencing pure, unmitigated joy, that’s how we would feel right now.