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Girls (TV series)

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Title: Girls (TV series)  
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Subject: Lena Dunham, 70th Golden Globe Awards, Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series, 2nd Critics' Choice Television Awards, Adam Driver
Collection: 2010S American Comedy Television Series, 2012 American Television Series Debuts, American Comedy-Drama Television Series, American Lgbt-Related Television Programs, Bafta Winners (Television Series), Best Musical or Comedy Series Golden Globe Winners, Brooklyn in Fiction, English-Language Television Programming, Hbo Network Shows, New York City in Fiction, Peabody Award Winning Television Programs, Television Shows Filmed in New York, Television Shows Set in New York City
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Girls (TV series)

The word
Genre Comedy-drama
Created by Lena Dunham
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 32 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Peter Phillips
Dan Sterling
Editor(s) Robert Franzen
Catherine Haight
Camera setup Single
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Apatow Productions
I Am Jenni Konner Productions
HBO Entertainment
Original channel HBO
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run April 15, 2012 (2012-04-15) – present
External links

Girls is an American television series that premiered on HBO on April 15, 2012. Created by and starring Lena Dunham, Girls is a comedy-drama following a close group of twenty-somethings living in New York City. The show's premise and major aspects of the main character were inspired by some of 28-year-old Dunham's real-life experiences.[1]

Girls has concluded its third season, which consists of 12 episodes[2] and premiered on January 12, 2014.[3] The series has been renewed for a fourth season, which consists of 10 episodes and will premiere on January 11, 2015.[4]


  • Synopsis 1
  • Cast and characters 2
    • Main cast 2.1
    • Recurring cast 2.2
    • Guest cast 2.3
  • Production 3
  • Episodes 4
  • Reception 5
    • Season 1 5.1
    • Season 2 5.2
    • Season 3 5.3
    • Accolades 5.4
    • Race controversy 5.5
    • Feminism 5.6
    • OCD 5.7
  • Broadcast 6
    • International broadcasting 6.1
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Aspiring writer Hannah gets a shock when her parents visit from East Lansing, Michigan, and announce they will no longer financially support her as they have done since her graduation from Oberlin College two years before. Left to her own devices in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, she navigates her twenties, "one mistake at a time".[5] Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver and Alex Karpovsky co-star as Hannah's circle of friends.

Cast and characters

Promotional poster for the series premiere showing the cast. From left to right: Jemima Kirke (as Jessa), Allison Williams (Marnie), Lena Dunham (Hannah), and Zosia Mamet (Shoshanna).

Main cast

  • Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath: a serious and an aspiring writer living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.[6]
  • Allison Williams as Marnie Marie Michaels: Hannah's best friend and, at the start of season 1, roommate. Along with Jessa, Charlie and Elijah, Marnie was a classmate of Hannah's at Oberlin College. She was a responsible and serious art gallery assistant, but later pursues music.[7]
  • Jemima Kirke as Jessa Johansson: A bohemian and unpredictable world-traveler, she is newly back to New York City at the start of the series and becomes roommates with her cousin Shoshanna in Nolita. She navigates many surprising life struggles, including a short-lived marriage and a stint in rehab.[8]
  • Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna Shapiro: Jessa's bubbly and innocent American cousin who's a Mathematics major at New York University. As the series progresses, Shoshanna matures and comes into her own in her relationships. Despite her naïveté, she's often the voice of reason within the group. [9]
  • Adam Driver as Adam Sackler: Hannah's aloof lover, part-time carpenter, and actor. Hannah and Adam's relationship deepens as the series progresses. Like Hannah, Adam is very defensive when it comes to his personal feelings.[10]
  • Alex Karpovsky as Ray Ploshansky (season 2–present, recurring previously):[11] Originally Charlie's friend, but later a friend of the others. Eventually, he has relations with both Shoshanna and Marnie, but both of these end. He manages a coffee shop in Brooklyn called "Cafe Grumpy."
  • Andrew Rannells as Elijah Krantz (season 4, recurring previously):[12] Hannah's ex-boyfriend from college who reveals to her in the first season that he is gay. Despite some initial hostility between the pair, they eventually become friends.

Recurring cast

  • Christopher Abbott as Charlie Dattolo (season 1–2): Marnie's ex-boyfriend, with whom she became increasingly bored. For a while they contemplate their relationship and try to make it work, but eventually this erodes and Charlie leaves the series.
  • Becky Ann Baker and Peter Scolari as Loreen and Tad Horvath: Hannah's parents, professors who live in East Lansing, MI. They cut her off in the pilot episode so that way she can be more independent and focused on her writing. She later visits them for their 30th anniversary, but does not share her recent financial problems to them.
  • Chris O'Dowd as Thomas-John (season 1–2): An affluent venture capitalist. After an earlier unpleasant encounter with Jessa and Marnie, he ends up marrying Jessa in a surprise ceremony at the end of the first season. They break up after an unpleasant dinner with his parents.
  • Kathryn Hahn and James LeGros as Katherine and Jeff Lavoyt (season 1): The parents of two young girls that Jessa babysat. Katherine is a documentary filmmaker, and Jeff is unemployed. Jeff develops a romantic interest in Jessa, which she eventually stops. She is fired, but is later visited by Katherine who offers her job back. Despite deciding not to see each other again, they have a heart-to-heart over Jeff and Jessa's inability to grow up.
  • Jon Glaser as Laird (season 2–present): Hannah's neighbor and a recovering addict.
  • John Cameron Mitchell as David Pressler-Goings (season 2–3): Hannah's editor for her e-book. He is either bisexual or gay, as he downloaded the application Grindr in the episode "She Said OK". He is found dead in the episode "Dead Inside" with his funeral taking place at "Only Child" where it is revealed he had a wife named Annalise.
  • Colin Quinn as Hermie (season 2–present): Ray's boss at the coffee shop who claims to be dying of an undisclosed illness.
  • Shiri Appleby as Natalia (season 2–3): Adam's ex-girlfriend. He abruptly breaks up with her after getting back together with Hannah.
  • Greta Lee as Soojin (season 2–present): Marnie's friend who owns an art gallery. She later hired Marnie as an assistant.
  • Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Desi (season 3–present): Adam's co-star in Major Barbara and Marnie's bandmate. He is dating Clementine.
  • Richard E. Grant as Jasper (season 3): Jessa's friend from rehab. He comes to New York to find Jessa but later leaves her to be with his daughter Dot.
  • Gaby Hoffmann as Caroline Sackler (season 3–present): Adam's sister. She is very sarcastic towards Adam and Hannah until the latter kicks her out. She is currently living in Laird's apartment.

Guest cast

  • Jorma Taccone as Booth Jonathan: A conceptual artist that Marnie meets at her art gallery job and has a short, sexual relationship with.
  • Rita Wilson as Evie Michaels: Marnie's overbearing mother. (3 episodes)
  • Richard Masur as Rich Glatter: Hannah's former boss at the law firm, who makes unwanted sexual advances toward her and her female co-workers. (2 episodes)
  • Donald Glover as Sandy: Hannah's Republican ex-boyfriend whom she started dating after Adam. Elijah has a dislike for Sandy due to his conservative political beliefs, a subject that eventually ends his relationship with Hannah. (2 episodes)
  • Louise Lasser as Beadie: Jessa's current employer, who tries to commit suicide in the episode "Two Plane Rides". (2 episodes)
  • Skylar Astin as Matt Kornstein: Shoshanna's old friend from summer camp. They attempt to have sex in the episode "Hannah's Diary". (1 episode)
  • Jenny Slate as Tally Schifrin: Hannah's college nemesis who releases a book in the episode "Leave Me Alone". (1 episode)
  • Patrick Wilson as Joshua (1 episode)
  • Danielle Brooks as Laura: A girl that Jessa meets in rehab. They get into a fight and later have sex in the episode "Females Only". (1 episode)
  • Danny Strong as Pal: Elijah's boyfriend. (1 episode)
  • Patti LuPone as herself (2 episodes)
  • June Squibb as Flo: Hannah's grandmother. She dies in the episode "Flo". (1 episode)
  • Felicity Jones as Dot: Jasper's estranged daughter. They meet and make amends in the episode "Role-Play". (1 episode)
  • Gillian Jacobs as Mimi-Rose[13]
  • Spike Jonze as Marcos[13]
  • Natasha Lyonne as Rickey[13]
  • Zachary Quinto as TBA[13]
  • Jason Ritter as Scott[13]
  • Zuzanna Szadkowski as TBA[14]


Lena Dunham's 2010 second feature, Tiny Furniture—which she wrote, directed and starred in—received positive reviews at festivals as well as awards attention, including Best Narrative Feature at South by Southwest and Best First Screenplay at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards.[15][16] The independent film's success earned her the opportunity to collaborate with Judd Apatow for an HBO pilot.[17] Apatow said he was drawn to Dunham's imagination and added that Girls would provide men with an insight into "realistic females".[1]

Some of the struggles facing Dunham's character Hannah—including being cut off financially from her parents, becoming a writer and making unfortunate decisions—are inspired by Dunham's real-life experiences.[1] The show's unique and eclectic look is achieved by shopping at a number of vintage boutiques in New York, including Brooklyn Flea and Geminola owned by the mother of Jemima Kirke.[18]

Dunham said Girls reflects a part of the population not portrayed in the 1998 HBO series Sex and the City. "Gossip Girl was teens duking it out on the Upper East Side and Sex and the City was women who [had] figured out work and friends and now want to nail romance and family life. There was this 'hole-in-between' space that hadn't really been addressed," she said.[1] The pilot intentionally references Sex and the City as producers wanted to make it clear that the driving force behind Girls is that the characters were inspired by the former HBO series and moved to New York to pursue their dreams.[1] Dunham herself says she "revere[s] that show just as much as any girl of my generation".[1]

As executive producer,[19] Dunham and Jennifer Konner are both showrunners of the series while Dunham is also the head writer.[20][21] Apatow is also executive producer,[19] under his Apatow Productions label. Dunham wrote or co-wrote all ten episodes of the first season and directed five, including the pilot.[19][22] Season one was filmed between April and August 2011 and consisted of 10 episodes.

The second season ran on HBO from January 13, 2013 to March 17, 2013 and also consisted of 10 episodes.

On April 4, 2013, Christopher Abbott left the series after sources reported he and Dunham had differences with the direction that his reoccurring character Charlie was taking as the third season entered production.[23] Dunham announced via Instagram on September 6, 2013, that production for the third season had concluded.[24][25] Season 3, which contained 12 episodes as opposed to the previous seasons 10 episodes, ran from January 12, 2014 to March 23, 2014. The fourth season of the series started filming in April 2014.[3]


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 10 April 15, 2012 (2012-04-15) June 17, 2012 (2012-06-17)
2 10 January 13, 2013 (2013-01-13) March 17, 2013 (2013-03-17)
3 12 January 12, 2014 (2014-01-12) March 23, 2014 (2014-03-23)
4 10[26] January 11, 2015 (2015-01-11)[27] TBA


Critics lauded the show for its raw nature, humor, and refreshing tone, applauding Dunham's more realistic portrayal of women and their relationships than mainstream media tends to present.[28]

Season 1

The first season of Girls received universal acclaim from television critics. On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the first season of the series holds an average of 87 based on 29 reviews.[29] The website also lists the show as the highest-rated fictional series debut of 2012. James Poniewozik from Time reserved high praise for the series, calling it "raw, audacious, nuanced and richly, often excruciatingly funny".[30] Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter called Girls "one of the most original, spot-on, no-missed-steps series in recent memory". Reviewing the first three episodes at the 2012 SXSW Festival, he said the series conveys "real female friendships, the angst of emerging adulthood, nuanced relationships, sexuality, self-esteem, body image, intimacy in a tech-savvy world that promotes distance, the bloodlust of surviving New York on very little money and the modern parenting of entitled children, among many other things—all laced together with humor and poignancy".[31] The New York Times also applauded the series and said: "Girls may be the millennial generation's rebuttal to Sex and the City, but the first season was at times as cruelly insightful and bleakly funny as Louie on FX or Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO."[32]

Despite many positive reviews, several critics criticized the characters themselves. Gawker's John Cook strongly criticised Girls, saying it was "a television program about the children of wealthy famous people and shitty music and Facebook and how hard it is to know who you are and Thought Catalog and sexually transmitted diseases and the exhaustion of ceaselessly dramatizing your own life while posing as someone who understands the fundamental emptiness and narcissism of that very self-dramatization."[33] Renee Martin of described the show as being: "About a privileged group of vapid women whining about being forced to be even remotely responsible for themselves".[34]

Season 2

The second season of Girls continued to receive critical acclaim. On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the second season of the series holds an average of 84 based on 19 reviews.[35] Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter stated that "Girls kicks off its second season even more assured of itself, able to deftly work strands of hard-earned drama into the free-flowing comedic moments of four postcollege girls trying to find their way in life".[36] David Wiegland of the San Francisco Chronicle said that "The entire constellation of impetuous, ambitious, determined and insecure young urbanites in Girls is realigning in the new season, but at no point in the four episodes sent to critics for review do you feel that any of it is artificial".[37] Verne Gay of Newsday said it is "Sharper, smarter, more richly layered, detailed and acted".[38] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly felt that "As bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as it was in its first season, Girls may now be even spunkier, funnier, and riskier".[39] In reference to the series' growth, Willa Paskin of Salon thought that Girls "has matured by leaps and bounds, comedically and structurally, but it has jettisoned some of its ambiguity, its sweetness, its own affection for its characters. It's more coherent, but it's also safer."[40]

Season 3

The third season of Girls received generally positive reviews. On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the third season of the series holds an average of 76 based on 18 reviews.[41] Rotten Tomatoes reports an 89% "Certified Fresh" approval rating from critics, based on 27 reviews with an average score of 7.8/10. The consensus states: "Still rife with shock value, Season 3 of Girls also benefits from an increasingly mature tone."[42] Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter lauded the first two episodes, and commented: "Going into its third season, Girls is as refreshing and audacious as ever and one of the few half-hour dramedies where you can feel its heart pounding and see its belly ripple with laughter."[43] In addition, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and PopMatters praised the comedic portrayal of its lead female characters.[44][45][46]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Notes
2012 2nd Critics' Choice Television Awards[47] Best Comedy Series Girls Nominated
Best Actress in a Comedy Series Lena Dunham Nominated
28th TCA Awards[48] Outstanding New Program Girls Nominated
Individual Achievement in Comedy Lena Dunham Nominated
64th Primetime Emmy Awards[49] Outstanding Comedy Series Girls Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Lena Dunham Nominated Episode: "She Did"
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Lena Dunham Nominated Episode: "She Did"
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Lena Dunham Nominated Episode: "Pilot"
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Jennifer Euston Won[50]
17th Satellite Awards Television Series, Comedy or Musical Girls Nominated
Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical Lena Dunham Nominated
65th Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Series writer's Nominated
New Series Series writer's Won
Women's Image Network Awards Outstanding Film / Show Written by A Woman Lena Dunham Nominated
Outstanding Film / Show Directed by A Woman Lena Dunham Nominated
Peabody Award Area of Excellence Girls Won[51]
2013 70th Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical Girls Won
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical Lena Dunham Won
65th Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series Lena Dunham Won Episode: "Pilot"
Art Directors Guild Awards Episode of a Half Hour Single-Camera Television Series Judy Becker Won Episode: "Pilot"
British Academy Television Awards International Prize Girls Won
3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Lena Dunham Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Alex Karpovsky Nominated
Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series Patrick Wilson Nominated
65th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Girls Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Lena Dunham Nominated Episode: "Bad Friend"
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Adam Driver Nominated Episode: "It's Back"
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Lena Dunham Nominated Episode: "On All Fours"
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Jennifer Euston Nominated
2014 71st Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical Girls Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical Lena Dunham Nominated
3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series Andrew Rannells Nominated
66th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Lena Dunham Nominated Episode: "Beach House"
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Adam Driver Nominated Episode: "Two Plane Rides"

Race controversy

The premiere of the pilot was also met with criticism regarding the all-white main cast in the otherwise culturally diverse setting of New York City (the only black actors in the pilot were a homeless man and a taxi driver, and the only Asian actress had the sole trait of being good at Photoshop).[52][53] Lesley Arfin, a writer for the show, responded to the controversy with the tweeted comment: "What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME". Afrin later deleted the comment following the uproar.[54] Lena Dunham has given interviews where she talks about the diversity question with the series, stating that with HBO's renewal of the series for a second season, "these issues will be addressed".[55] Donald Glover guest starred as Sandy, a black Republican and Hannah's love interest, in the first two episodes of season two.

Agreeing that there is a lack of racial diversity on Girls, a comment from The Huffington Post argues that the issue is the industry as a whole. "Where are the think pieces taking networks to task for the millionth procedural about a troubled male cop or the millionth comedy about a guy who has problems with women? Why are we holding Lena Dunham's feet to the fire, instead of the heads of networks and studios? That troubles me, not least because it's easier (and lazier) to attack a 25-year-old woman who's just starting out than to attack the men twice her age who actually control the industry. ...I have to say that I'm absolutely astonished that, of all shows, this is the one that is being attacked for being too white. I could list the shows on television with all-white casts, but then we'd be here all day."[56] Dunham has publicly said, "I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me". She adds that she wanted to avoid tokenism in casting. The experience of a black character would involve a certain specificity, a type she could not speak to.[57]


Girls has prompted debate about its possible feminist politics. It has been praised for its portrayal of women and female friendship, but criticized as classist, racist, transphobic and misguided. In an online review for Ms Magazine, Kerensa Cadenas argues, "Despite its lack of a serious class and race consciousness, Girls does address other feminist issues currently in play, among them body image, abortion, relationships within a social media age and street harassment. In another series, these issues might be the focus of one episode (i.e. the abortion episode of SATC), but in Girls they become everyday topics."[58] On the other hand, Catherine Scott of The Independent asks, "What’s there to celebrate for feminism when black, Hispanic or Asian women are totally written out of a series that’s supposedly set in one of the most diverse cities on earth? But also, what’s there to celebrate for feminism when a show depicts four entirely self-interested young women and a lead character having the most depressing, disempowered sexual relationships imaginable?"[59]


In season 2, it is revealed that Dunham's character Hannah has struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since she was a teenager. OCD is a mental disorder defined by recurring disturbing or intrusive thoughts, and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) that relieve the anxiety associated with those thoughts. [60] OCD usually onsets in adolescence, and its etiology may be attributed to a variety of causes- some theories include increased metabolic activity in the brain, having a natural tendency for rigid moralistic thinking (and therefore difficulty accepting disturbing thoughts that are out of one's control),[61] and hereditary genetics; a correlation has even been found between developing strep throat in adolescence and the onset of OCD. About 1.6% of people will develop OCD in their lifetime [62] and it can be treated through serotonin-enhancing drugs, or exposure therapy (exposure to a source of anxiety) with response prevention. [63] Dunham, who was diagnosed with OCD as a child, relied heavily on her own experiences to write about Hannah's disorder. Dunham has been praised for her portrayal of OCD on 'Girls', as media representation of this disorder tends to depict symptoms as endearing quirks, with few or no disruptions in normal functioning. Hannah's compulsion presents itself in counting; she must complete everything in multiples of 8 before she is comfortable. Though cleansliness and counting are two common manifestations of OCD compulsions, Dunham endeavors to portray how compulsions can affect one's daily functioning. Like many disorders, OCD tends to worsen in times of stress/uncertainty, and though Hannah has not experienced symptoms in years, her breakup with Adam triggers her compulsions to begin again. For example, at the end of season 2, Hannah uses a Q-tip to clean out her ear and must pick in her ear 8 times, leading her to rupture one of her eardrums. After returning from the hospital, she takes a new Q-tip and begins on the other ear. Hannah also mentions that when she was a teenager, she used to masturbate 8 or 16 times in a row, unable to stop even when she was sobbing. This more brutal approach to exposing mental illness is considered to be a more realistic portrayal of this disorder.


Girls premiered on April 15, 2012, on HBO in the United States.[64][65] The first three episodes were screened at the 2012 SXSW Festival on March 12.[66]

HBO renewed the series for a second season of ten episodes on April 30, 2012.[19][21][67][68]

On January 7, 2014, the premiere of the third season of Girls was shown at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City.[69] Models Karlie Kloss, Karen Elson, and Hilary Rhoda; designers Nicole Miller, Cynthia Rowley, and Zac Posen; and editors Anna Wintour, Joanna Coles, and Amy Astley were all in attendance.[69] The after party was at the Allen Room and "hosted by HBO and the Cinema Society".[69]

International broadcasting

Country Television network Premiere References
Arab World OSN September 7, 2012 [70]
 Australia Showcase May 28, 2012 [71]
 Belgium Prime July 18, 2012 [72]
 Brazil HBO Brasil July 23, 2012 [73]
 Canada HBO Canada April 15, 2012
Super Écran in (French) August 19, 2012 [74]
 Croatia HBO Croatia April 27, 2012 [75]
 Denmark HBO Nordic December 15, 2012
DR3 January 31, 2013
 France Orange ciné max September 18, 2012 [76]
 Finland C More May 19, 2012
HBO Nordic December 15, 2012 [77]
Yle TV2 February 8, 2013
 Germany Glitz* October 2012 [78]
 Hungary HBO Hungary June 5, 2012 [79]
 Iceland Stöð 2 June 2012 [80]
 Israel Yes Oh May 2012 [81]
 Italy MTV Italia October 10, 2012
 New Zealand SoHo May 2012 [82]
 Netherlands HBO Netherlands April 16, 2012
 Norway C More May 19, 2012 [83]
NRK January 22, 2013 [84]
 Poland HBO Poland July 30, 2012 [85]
 Portugal TVSéries August 26, 2012
 Turkey Dizimax Comedy November 1, 2012 [86]
 Spain C More June 2012 [87]
 Sweden C More May 19, 2012 [88]
SVT2 February 16, 2013
 United Kingdom Sky Atlantic October 22, 2012 [89]


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