Pedestrian caught up with American television veteran Jennifer Konner, writer and executive producer of HBO comedy series Girls and person you should definitely follow on Twitter, to discuss her fluid personal/professional relationship with series star and creator Lena Dunham, filming awkward sex scenes and her favourite moments from season one.
How did you first meet Lena? I had seen Lena’s movie Tiny Furniture because my friend Liz Meriwether [creator
of New Girl] said, ‘You have to see this movie, it’s from this 23-year old, she’s in her
underwear all the time and she wrote, directed and starred in it.’ I was like, ‘PASS!’
But Sue Naegle [President, HBO Entertainment] who’s a friend of mine had a copy
of it. This was before they were even developing with Lena. I watched it and I
became completely obsessed with it and with her. They were looking for a
supervisor for her and I said I was in 100%. She just had a blind script deal with HBO
on the back of Tiny Furniture at that point. We had a phone meeting first three years
ago. Then she came and we became class best friends – like the next time she came
to LA she stayed with me. We’ve talked five times a day since then.
Some people thought HBO were mad to give a 23-year-old her
own show…I know, especially when they have to write, direct and star. That is a burden for
someone who’s done it for 30 years. But she has unlimited energy and she’s really
collaborative. Lena has this amazing combination. She’s so clear in her voice and
what she wants to say that she doesn’t waffle very much. But she also has so much
self-confidence that she’s also really open to hearing what other people have to say.
That is a really rare thing in an auteur. What you see is really what you get. The first
year I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop – because I kept thinking how can she
be this good and this fully formed as a human being and this kind to everybody. But it
just never ends. It’s unbelievable. I have two kids and every time I see Lena’s parents
it’s like, what are your secrets?
What’s been the best and worst thing about working with Lena? The best thing is it’s almost all a pleasure. The worst thing is at the beginning she
secretly went out. She was afraid to tell me she was going out when she was
supposed to be writing. I used to call her the ‘secret hanger.’ I feel like mum, sister
and daughter all at once. And mentee and mentor. One of the nice things about the
relationship is our roles are constantly switching.
What was your approach to the sex scenes? I love doing our sex scenes because we don’t have the burden of trying to make
them sexy. They’re mostly kind of terrible, bad, 20-year-old fumbly sex. People get
better at it. We’re showing the time where you think you know everything there is
to know – but you really don’t. That is a universal experience. And every single thing
we show is emotionally motivated. The proof of that is that so many of the sex
scenes are unsexy. So of course it’s not gratuitous. We’re not trying to turn anyone
on – this is a terrible sex scene, and it’s hilarious.
Have you had any Girls moments since you’ve been making the
series? This thing happened to me where I was sexting with my boyfriend and
accidentally sent it to another person who was next on my text list. Luckily it wasn’t
a picture, like the one that Adam sends to Hannah mid-series. But in the main all my
Girls moments are just saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, saying too much –
those kind of things happen to me constantly.
What’s your favourite scene from the first season?
One of them is the last minutes of the party episode when Adam says to
Hannah, ‘What do you want? Do you want a fucking boyfriend?’ And then we cut to
them together in the car. In episode three, the Elijah-telling-her-he’s-gay scene is one
of my favourites, with them sitting at the bar. And I love Ray and Shoshanna as we
get towards the end. Other than that all of my favourite scenes are just watching
Hannah watch other people. If I were directing it would just be all singles of her
Girls is certainly funny to watch. Is it funny to make? There are certain people who are bigger gigglers than others. Zosia [Mamet,
who plays Shoshanna] is a big giggler but then she’s always the biggest professional
on set. She may giggle but she’ll always know her line, hit her marks. I just think
everyone really likes each other. It doesn’t have to be that way – it’s not a condition
for success. There are very successful shows that have terrible sets. It doesn’t mean
that the show won’t be great. But why wouldn’t you have it nice if you could?
Girls: The Complete First Season will be available to own on DVD and Blu-ray on December 12.