Sex, drugs, politics, beauty, insecurities, love, cheating, defeat, success — the themes that are seamlessly woven into the six seasons of "Girls" read like a droning laundry list of societal woes, but they appear on screen as a mirror image of what life is really like for my “entitled” generation.
The final season of Lena Dunham's HBO show is four episodes into what will surely become a satisfying ending for the raw characters audiences have empathized with over the last five years.
The 20-something “I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up” mentality may be a foreign concept to older generations, but millennials have found themselves, and their flaws, in Dunham's complexly beautiful characters.
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In her original pitch for "Girls," Lena Dunham adequately summed up the dreams of genY in two sentences,
While Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa may translate as caricatures of what actual 20-somethings living in New York are like, the show's success is wildly attributed to audiences, perhaps begrudgingly, seeing and understanding their own flaws played out on screen.
As Andrew Rannells, who plays Elijah, eloquently put the just-like-us quality of the show,
Judging by a photo from the show, one may assume the strong, female principles of this cast are synonymous with those of “Sex and the City.”
However, the eight-year gap between the two shows is glorious proof of our cracking glass ceilings, showing the transition from fashion and mainly male-focused females to groundbreaking, ambitious realness.
Although the show's title may be gender specific, the grievances each character goes through are generally gender neutral -- menstrual pains and UTIs aside.
I had the pleasure of speaking with some of the guys of "Girls" about their experiences, connections to their characters and biggest takeaways from working on such a unique show.
Alex Karpovsky (Ray), Andrew Rannells (Elijah) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Desi) are not only talented actors, but speak with the same level of passion and rawness as the characters they play.
With the final season upon us, I began by asking each actor how they feel their characters have evolved since the first season of the show.
Karpovsky looked back on Ray's character development and said,
Audiences first met Rannells' character, Elijah, as a newly gay man who used to date Hannah in college. While we've seen Elijah's vulnerable side develop, the true evolution of his character is somewhat difficult to dissect.
Desi, who we only met in season three, has had more of a volatile evolution. He went from working with Marnie to marrying Marnie to getting a divorce, with addiction and mental health issues splattered across his character's arch.
Speaking on Desi, Moss-Bachrach told me,
In addition to each of these inevitable evolutions, I questioned if each actor was pleased with the way his character's arch concluded.
The answer was a unanimous "yes."
Specifically, Andrew Rannells said,
As anyone who has watched "Girls" knows, it's not the type of show audiences expect to end tied up in a neat bow.
The fourth episode of season six concludes with Hannah finding out she's pregnant. Dunham, who is an adrenalized activist, has spoken openly and publicly about abortion on multiple platforms.
While Dunham has always weaved her liberal beliefs into her storylines, I was curious how the actors think audiences will react to Hannah's pregnancy -- particularly in our current political climate.
In today's society, the stigmas around abortion and unplanned pregnancies are heightened, so based on the show's reputation, it only makes sense for this storyline to pop up -- no societal stones are left unturned on "Girls."
While the sixth season of the show was written months prior to Donald Trumpp being elected president, political controversy and topical content are consistent throughout the show.
Karpovsky, specifically, enjoyed Ray's take on politics. He told me,
Additionally, Moss-Bachrach commented on the audience's perception and the inevitable criticism that comes along with those whose beliefs don't align with the show,
Part of what makes "Girls" so sharp is its consistently modern stories in a fast-changing world. The millennial generation is more accustomed to change than we are to stability.
Speaking about the pressure to remain topical, particularly in the ever-changing city of New York over the course of five years, Karpovsky said,
The importance of topicality is, in my opinion, the over-arching theme that separates "Girls" from everything else on television. Lena Dunham's dedication to this concept is almost overwhelming.
Rannells spoke on Lena Dunham with a level of praise that replicates their sibling-style relationship between Elijah and Hannah on the show. Adding to the importance of the show's sustained social relevancy and Dunham's talents, he said,
I pressed on and asked if the show were to do a seventh season, would it be as politically charged as Dunham is? Andrew Rannells nodded and said,
Moss-Bachrach also celebrated Dunham's writing and credits the achievements of the show to her unique style.
Of course, the glaringly obvious questions when speaking to male actors on a female-centered show boil down to gender.
I asked each actor what working on "Girls" has taught them about female friendships. Each actor gave an expectedly honest and enlightened response.
Alex Karpovsky spoke with the same passionate wisdom and insight as Ray while commenting on his experience on the show and gained perspective on women:
Andrew Rannells commented on the unique trickiness of female friendships,
Ebon Moss-Bachrach sang a similar tune regarding his new insight on the subject,
Lena Dunham's perceptive vision combined with a passionate, unwaveringly talented cast are the qualities that make "Girls" more than just a show of this generation.
The final season of "Girls" airs on Sunday nights on HBO.