Goodbye To The Girls: The Cast Reflect On What They’ve Learned In Five Years

As the sixth and final season starts on 13 Feburary, Jane Mulkerrins meets the cast to see what they’ve learned from their ground-breaking stint


by Jane Mulkerrins |
Published on

I first met the perky, witty, fast-talking Lena Dunham in early 2012. She struck me as the wisest 25-year-old I’d ever come across. And when Girls, the HBO comedy she’d created, directed and starred in, arrived on screens, critics and audiences responded similarly to her gritty, sexually open portrait of post-recession millennial living.

In the five years since, in spite of becoming a global star and an outspoken feminist figurehead, writing a best-selling memoir and being named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, Lena Dunham has changed surprisingly little. As a 30-year-old, she’s as warm, sparky, and unguarded as she ever was.

‘I think I may have destroyed my body and pushed myself into middle age making the show. I used to be able to pull all-nighters,’ she says, wistfully. ‘Filming season one, I went out on a date, drank an entire bottle of wine, barely went to bed, threw up on the way to work and got an entire day of filming done, drinking Gatorade and moaning. That would put me under the table for six days now.’ Nowadays, by contrast, life with her boyfriend of five years – the musician Jack Antonoff – is incredibly settled. ‘We are as close as you can get to two 100-year-old people,’ she quips.

While their on-screen characters have continued to thrash around with unsuitable dates and careers, all the Girls have become Women. Allison Williams (Marnie) and Zosia Mamet (Shoshanna), both 28, were each married recently, while Jemima Kirke (Jessa), 31, now has two children and, last month, divorced her husband of seven years. ‘We’ve all lived older than we really are, while Jessa, Hannah, Marnie and Shosh got to have their twenties,’ said Allison. ‘We learned from their mistakes... or, at least, we got to act them out.'

Lena Dunham on Hannah Horvath

What she’s taught me: She really stands up for herself. She gets

the last word, she asks for what she needs – she doesn’t always do it gracefully, but she’s not pussyfooting. That honesty is something I want to try to hold on to.

What I’m going to miss: Her speech patterns, the wide-eyed way she looks at the world, the way her sweaters and swimsuits don’t fit. Hannah is a bit like playing my id, and it’s been really fun.

What I’ll be happy to leave behind: It has been challenging, at times, that the show couldn’t be assessed on its own merits because of the noisy critical dialogue around it. I’ll be happy to work on a project that has less baggage around it.

Zosia Mamet on Shoshanna Shapiro

What she’s taught me: She really doesn’t apologise for her choices, even if she’s concerned about how other people are going to take it. She’s full-force. I am trying to adopt that.

What I’m going to miss: Her relationship with Ray – I love the weird journey they have been on. I think that they’re soulmates, but not necessarily in a romantic sense.

What I’ll be happy to leave behind: Her incredible speech rate. And the pigeonholing that it has put me in. Adam Driver plays such a specific character [Adam] in our show, and has gotten to play such a variety

of roles outside of it, while the women have had to work so hard

to convince the industry we can play other characters.

Jemima Kirke on Jessa Johansson

What she’s taught me: The less you have written in stone about who you are, the happier you can be. In our teenage years, and often into our twenties, we throw all these things in to make a person. Leaving all that behind, you can do anything.

What I’m going to miss: Her absolute boldness. She always has a refreshing angle that she brings to the table, even if she might be missing a few key points. I think Jessa is probably a Trump supporter – she’ll have made some parallels with Charlie Chaplin’s film, The Great Dictator.

What I’ll be happy to leave behind: Always trying to be the cool one. I was like that as a kid, so playing Jessa, I regressed

Allison Williams on Marnie Michaels

What she’s taught me: She’s so brave. She’s never met a microphone she didn’t want to talk into, she’s never met anyone who she didn’t think was interested in what was going on in her mind. But after performing an awkward version of a Kanye West song, she had sex with Charlie: she

was doing something right.

What I’m going to miss: Being part of a show that made a radical move towards honesty, rather than aspirationalism. I think and hope it has left people feeling less alone.

What I’ll be happy to leave behind: Marnie’s apartment – that is SO small. It looks small on screen, but when you have 20 adults in there, with equipment, they are all having sex with you...

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