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‘Girls’: Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner Explain the Series Finale and Why They Gave Hannah’s Baby That Name

The executive producers reveal the indie film inspiration for their final episode, and why they don't have any regrets. 

Girls 610 Lena Dunham Allison Williams

Mark Schafer/HBO

[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for “Girls” Season 6 Episode 10, “Latching.”]

Growing up is complicated, yet for the women of “Girls,” executive producers Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner don’t have an overworked point-of-view on the journeys of the show’s key characters.

In fact, “I feel like kind of nothing happened to [them],” Dunham recently told IndieWire about her own character, Hannah, as well as Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), Marnie (Allison Williams), and Jessa (Jemima Kirke).

“There’s never really been, on ‘Girls,’ a story that ends in complete and total satisfaction and understanding,” she said. “It’s never been our gift and it’s never really been what we’re going for — so it’s good that it’s not our gift. I remember Jenni once said in an interview — and I thought it was the funniest thing ever — someone was like, ‘How do you feel about some criticism that the show has got kind of a careening plot?’ And Jenni was like, ‘That’s just not our strength.’ And I thought it was so cool and bold to be the one TV creator who’s just like, ‘yeah, no, plot’s not really our thing.’ My partner’s basically David Lynch.”

While “Girls” has always been identified as Dunham’s voice, it’s clear that she highly values her collaborators, especially Konner, who (as noted above) she constantly references. And Konner’s contribution to the series cannot be underestimated, especially given the fact that she directed “Latching,” the final episode of the season.

The final story of the series was an extremely scaled-down narrative, considering the show’s sprawling cast of characters. It focused on just Hannah, Marnie, and Hannah’s mother Loreen (Becky Ann Baker) coping with Hannah’s newfound state of motherhood.

“We knew that Jenni was gonna be directing it and that she wanted to do something that was super, super intimate with characters that we already knew and loved,” Dunham said. “It both made a lot of sense for Hannah’s life and it was also going to give us a really clear, open space for these emotional dynamics to play out.

“Then Jenni had a very, very strong directorial vision from the beginning, about stripping it back visually, about only having diegetic sound, not having score, giving it a kind of space that you don’t often get in half-hour television.”

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Because Dunham is a film nerd, she had a very specific and obscure reference point for the finale’s narrative: “It reminds me of that Barbara Loden movie ‘Wanda,’ which is just a lonely, escaped housewife wandering across tar pits for two hours. It’s the ‘Girls’ version of the meditative foreign film — only it’s the ‘Girls’ version, so it’s not that,” Dunham said.

“I had done the finale the year before, and had way more fun than I had ever anticipated and so it just made sense to do it again,” Konner said. “It was like directing a little film. It didn’t feel quite the same as directing a ‘Girls’ episode.”

“And I can say this and it will embarrass her, but I don’t care because we’re almost done with press,” Dunham added, “which is that Jenni may have taken five years to direct but she was directing all along. We had amazing directors but it was like every time there was a deeply emotional moment that needed to take place, she was there. She was on her knees talking to the actors as gently and softly as a person can. So by the time she was directing, everybody was like, ‘But hasn’t this been going on for five years?’ It was a thrilling thing to see — it was like putting a baby in the water and just finding out that it had somehow taught itself to swim. It was the coolest thing ever.

“It’s really one of my sadnesses about the show being over — that I only got to be directed by her in two episodes,” Dunham added.

Otherwise, both Dunham and Konner have few regrets about the show. “We’re in this insanely lucky position — I feel like we really, really got to tell the story we wanted to tell,” Dunham said. “We set out with a mission and we got to approach it from literally every angle and by the end we had kind of done it.”

Added Konner: “Every once in a while now I’ll hear a joke or think of a line or think of a plot for one of the characters and I’ll think, ‘Oh I wish I could put that into ‘Girls.’ But I don’t think we have any major regrets about big stories.”

To wrap things up: Of all the odd decisions Hannah has made over the course of “Girls,” one of her last ones might be the most intriguing: Why did she name her baby “Grover”?

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The answer is more complicated than the fact that in Episode 7, “Bounce,” it’s Paul-Louie’s (Riz Ahmed) casual suggestion to Hannah — and yet also more simple, according to Dunham. “I one day went to the office and I was like, ‘I think the baby’s name is Grover,’ and everyone was like ‘Okay, sounds about dumb enough for what Hannah would want to name her child,'” she said.

“I just felt like she would want to give him a name that like wasn’t super traditional, but at the same time wasn’t like a cute, celebrity baby name. It’s like somebody who’s had a fantasy since they were eight about what they were gonna call their kid, and then they didn’t have anyone else weighing in, so they got to do it. It’s probably the kind of thing I would call my child if I didn’t have a partner.

“The idea that it was Paul-Louie’s idea is something that Jenni very brilliantly retrofitted,” Dunham added. “We were shooting that scene and she was just like, ‘What if we just give him this? He’s always thought Grover was a cool name for a baby.’ And what I never said to Jenni then is that I got the vibe that he got it from ‘Sesame Street’? He’s not that intellectual so it just seems he’s like, ‘Grover’s my favorite puppet.’ He’s the chilled dude who would have that feeling. It really made me laugh.”

“So funny,” Konner agreed.

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