Lena Dunham is horrified by her original 'Girls' pitch, but is it that different from the show?

Source: HBO
Source: HBO

Girls is coming to an end. The sixth season, which begins airing on HBO on Feb. 12 at 10 p.m. Eastern, will be its last, and to usher it out creator and lead Lena Dunham has been reflecting on the half-hour comedy series about four women navigating their friendship, romance, past demons and the chaotic city of New York. 

In a Hollywood Reporter exclusive, Dunham shared her initial pitch for the series, and it appears that she doesn't stand behind it: "I mean, it is the worst pitch you’ve ever read," she said. "It was like, 'They're everything, they're nothing, they're everywhere, they're nowhere.' It's pretentious and horrifying, but I remember sitting on the floor, listening to Tegan and Sara in my underwear, being like, 'I'm a genius.'"

The thing is, when you read the pitch, it's hard to see what about it is exactly so horrifying, and what about it is that different from the show it became. 

Source: YouTube

The pitch

After receiving high praise for her debut film Tiny Furniture, Dunham found herself getting everyone's attention. "I was 23, and everyone was going, 'There's a YA novel that you might be good to adapt,'" Dunham told the Hollywood Reporter

Then she visited HBO, where she informally pitched a series that she says is a conglomeration of Sex and the City and Gossip Girl. 

Sex and the City depicted women who had mastered their careers and were now being driven crazy by the tick of their biological clocks. Gossip Girl is about losing your virginity and gaining popularity, in a world where no one is old enough to vote or has to worry about making a living. But between adolescence and adulthood is an uncomfortable middle-ground, when women are ejected from college and into a world with neither glamour nor structure. The resulting period of flux is heartbreaking and hilarious and way too human. It's humbling and it’s sexy and it’s ripe for laughs.

This is the opener to her pitch, and, at least from this point, it sounds exactly like what Girls intended to be and what it has been over the years. Throughout there has been no glamor, no structure, and there has been a lot of heartbreak and hilarity, sometimes at once.

Allison Williams in 'Girls'
Source: Screenshot/HBO

In her letter, Dunham goes on to list several descriptors for the characters that would inhabit her show: 

They're the last children of baby boomers, and the first generation to have moms who know how to text message ["HAVE U HAD AN HPV VACCINE YET? DO U HAVE HPV? LUV, MOM'] These moms probably enjoyed more swinging sex lives in their twenties than their daughters could ever dream of.

They've been on Ritalin since they were twelve and on birth control since they were fifteen (even if they didn't start having sex until college)

They're just as likely to sleep with their 40 year old boss as they are to make out like eighth graders with a 20 year old they meet at a loft party.

They're not looking for romantic partners with money or clout. Just guys who make them feel thin, funny, or superior.

Again, nothing particularly off-track here. For example, in season one of the show there was an early plot line where Dunham's character, Hannah Horvath, is told she has HPV. Then there's also the parents, who are entirely open with their kids about sex — particularly Marnie's mom. If Dunham finds this all "pretentious," then that reflects on the show itself, which at its worst is not so much pretentious but inauthentic in the way it often pretends to capture an experience shared by all 20-somethings. Still, the pitch just isn't that horrific. 

You can read Dunham's pitch in full here.

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Eric Eidelstein

Eric Eidelstein is a freelance Arts writer living in Brooklyn, NY. He has previously written for Complex, Indiewire, and other outlets.

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