Dunham and show runner Jenni Konner did a lengthy and great interview on HitFix. Here are some excerpts:
I want to start out with the line that you say to your parents. You tell them, “I’m the voice of my generation,” and then you immediately walk it back to, “Well I’m a voice of a generation.” There is always a danger in shows declaring “I am about this universal experience and everyone will watch me and they will say ‘This is me.’” How universal do you feel this story actually is, or is it specific?
Lena Dunham: Well it’s funny because I’ve gotten a few tweets from people that were like, “Do you really think you’re the voice of your generation?” And I hoped that the fact that she’s on opium and about to faint makes it pretty clear that she is grasping at straws there, but in terms of the universality with the show, something I learned through the process of putting out “Tiny Furniture” was that things that feel super personal actually feel really universal. It’s sort of the more you really identify something specific within yourself the more people connect to it because ultimately we are all connected in some way.
Jenni Konner: Yeah, I’m always surprised. When we did our sales conference thing with HBO, the Time Warner sales people — just all of the people — coming up to Lena saying “I am you, I am you” in every shape and size and color.
Lena Dunham: Yeah, that was amazing. It ranged from girls my age, who probably are me, to 55 year-old men and I think it was just a connection to a feeling like you couldn’t quite get it right but believed there was something great that you had to say, and I think that that’s a pretty identifiable struggle.
Just getting back to the issue of Hannah as a flawed character. I also find her to be really quite charming despite all of the many bad decisions she makes. What in your mind is the key to making people like her in spite of all the stupid stuff she does and says?
Jenni Konner: I think the thing about that character is that I think she is trying her ass off even though she’s failing a ton. She is always trying to improve herself, improve her situation, get a job. It’s all misguided and sort of terribly executed, but I think it comes from this place that everyone has been, like I’m going to be Mary Tyler Moore, I’m going to throw my hat up in the air and twirl around and so when a truck hits her you go, well she was trying. I think that’s part of the key for me.
Lena Dunham: I always thought the saddest feeling in life is when you’re dancing in a really joyful way and then you hit your head on something. It’s sad and embarrassing and I feel like Hannah’s entire life is like dancing and then hitting her head on something and so she’s really making an effort and I think the fact that I’m always really comforted by the fact that Marnie loves her, by their connection. She couldn’t be too useless because she has this friend who’s not giving up.
For more of the interview, go here.