Jenni Konner, one of the three showrunners of the HBO comedy "GIRLS" and collaborator to Lena Dunham, gives her Brief But Spectacular take on why it's so important to her to be creating avenues for dialogue for women and girls, be it through the show or their newsletter "Lenny Letter."
JENNI KONNER, Showrunner, “GIRLS”: The first time I saw Lena Dunham was in “Tiny Furniture.”
There’s one scene where she spends just a huge amount of screen time struggling into a Spanx, and that was the moment that I was like, “I don’t know, this girl is doing something that no one else is doing.”
You know, it’s funny that you say that I describe being a showrunner as being a CEO because I don’t think I know what a CEO does. It’s just a person who has to be in charge and have the final word in sort of everything.
Judd Apatow, together with me and Lena, we’re all the showrunners of “GIRLS.”
I always felt that we run “GIRLS” a little differently.
Judd and Lena and I have two women in charge. They seem to be more interested in personalities clashing than just finding the best of everything. They’ll find the best “this guy” to work with the best “this girl.” And that feels really different to me and really female.
What have I learned from Lena Dunham? Everything. She’s the bravest person I know. I’ve really learned to sort of speak from truth.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: How did I get here? Like, this was just supposed to be like a fun little jaunt, you know.
LENA DUNHAM: I don’t think you should say “jaunt.” That’s not a good expression.
JENNI KONNER: Jill Soloway has spoken before about being inspired by Lena, and she said, “Well, if this 23-year-old can make this truthful, beautiful movie, maybe it’s time for me to tell my story too.”
Lena not only inspired me to direct, but she kind of forced me to direct. She was like, “It’s time for you to try it.” And I actually tried it and I loved it.
I feel really lucky to work on a show that people talk about.
There was a scene that we did with Shiri Appleby, where she played a character that Adam dated. And there was this sort of a blurry grey-area sex scene where he has her crawl across the floor before they have sex. And I remember when that one aired people were saying on social media and saying “Was that a rape scene?” It wasn’t for us in the writing, but it was just even interesting that people were discussing it in that form.
The origin of “Lenny Letter,” it started because Lena went on her book tour and she had these audiences, young women, really diverse and looking for guidance.
Lena said, “You know, I want to be able to talk to them in a way that’s like beyond 140 characters.”
We decided to make it a newsletter because it feels intimate.
When I say, with “Lenny,” that I want to personalize the political, Jennifer Lawrence was a great example of that. She spoke about wage equality which is something that we all talk about. all the time and can all experience. She spoke about it in her personal story of it. People thought, “Oh i get to feel like Jennifer Lawrence feels,” and it was still something that we can all relate to even though her numbers are higher than most others.
We realized there wasn’t quite a snark-free place for women.
When we worked on “GIRLS,” we’ve had some really meaningful dialogue with our fans and with critics and really learned a lot of things, like on the question of diversity, we heard people and we responded, which is very different from like, ‘Hey fatty, what are you doing on TV?” And that’s what we’re trying to avoid.
I always say that Lena’s gravestone will read, “She read the comments.” I’m always trying to keep her as far away from the comments as possible.
Hi, this is Jenni Konner and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on creating a dialogue for women and girls.