'Girls' Boss on How Main Characters Are "Really Going to Try to Grow Up A Little Bit" in Penultimate Season

Jenni Konner reveals how much the HBO show's fifth season storylines were written with an end game in mind and talks about season-premiere surprises from Desi, Jessa and Adam.
Courtesy of HBO

[Warning: The following story contains spoilers about Girls' fifth-season premiere, "Wedding Day."]

HBO's Girls began its second-to-last season on Sunday night with Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams) taking a big step into adulthood by marrying her boyfriend and musical partner Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).

Marnie's wedding comes as the main characters in the series about four female friends in their 20s navigating life in New York are finally, at least trying, to grow up—sort of.

"This is the time when the girls are like, 'We're really going to try to grow up a little bit'," co-showrunner Jenni Konner tells The Hollywood Reporter. "And it's Girls, so it won't work as easily as making that decision, but I think they're really [trying]."

One of those "grown-up" choices is Hannah's (Lena Dunham) decision to pursue a relationship with her fellow teacher, Fran (Jake Lacy). The final moments of season four showed that the two had become a couple, six months after she rejected the advances of ex-boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver), and at the start of the fifth season they're still going strong despite some differences of opinion.

"This is [Hannah saying,] 'I'm going to date a guy who I think is normal, who doesn't have crazy sex fantasies that I have to fulfill where I'm like a prostitute walking down the street or things like that and who isn't kind of an insane person and who I actually like.' She feels like he is good for her," Konner says. "And she's sort of willing to tolerate the [occasional disagreement] as if Fran is like the health food of her life."

With Girls set to end after season six, with HBO renewing it for that final installment, Konner says that "a lot" of the season five storylines were written with the show's end game in mind.

"Especially the second half of the season," Konner adds. "That's when we really knew and really were going for it. I do think when we knew we were going to end for sure then what we knew was that time was ticking on the stories, and so it's like speak now or forever hold your peace."

It's also only a matter of time before Marnie discovers what Hannah and Fran learn in the fifth season premiere: that Marnie is the eighth woman to whom Desi has gotten engaged and that the ring he gave her was meant for his ex-girlfriend.

"Whenever we find out a secret, which is pretty rare that we learn a secret that the character doesn't know, then it's just a ticking time bomb," Konner says. "So you'll see it play out."

For the moment, though, Hannah not telling Marnie that gossip was another grown-up choice Girls' narcissistic main character made.

"It was making this choice not to tear it all down based on something she'd heard," Konner says. "Who even knows what the truth is about that story? She just chose to let it go. And I'm not saying that's the right or the wrong answer but I do think it's a step for Hannah towards adulthood, sort of toward the, 'This is actually none of my business at the end of the day.' Because it's not like she found out he was a murderer, you know what I mean."

Someone who also doesn't choose to ruin the wedding is Alex Karpovsky's Ray, who seems quite despondent about the "love of [his] life" getting married and how he's not able to "pull a Graduate" and get her back.

"He doesn't really have it in him to make more of a spectacle out of it and I think that's partially rooted in the fact that he isn't the bravest person in the world, but I think it's also rooted in the fact that he doesn't want to ruin this beautiful day that these people have chosen to put together," Karpovsky tells THR. "He kind of feels like that's rude in some way. He has very mixed feelings about it. But ultimately Marnie's still an object of desire and to see Marnie become a married woman is very, very difficult for him."

As for what Marnie and Ray's dynamic will be like now that she's married, Karpovsky says, "I think that their relationship—it was strained to begin with—but now I think it's strained with an additional healthy dose of frustration on Ray's part. It's a lot harder to pull a woman away when she's full-on married to someone, I think, in Ray's mind. And so when she was dating Desi, it was such a volatile relationship that there would be these gaps where they would have these huge fights and things like that, and I think Ray always had this notion that we could get together or that possibility was there but now that she's married, that has gone away and been replaced by a form of frustration."

Despite all of this, Ray ends up being the one who unintentionally talks Desi into going through with the wedding after the groom has a panic attack and throws himself into a pond. Yet Desi's convinced because he completely misinterprets what Ray's trying to say.

"I think what Ray is hoping in that speech he gives to Desi in the pond is [for Desi to realize] that Desi and Marnie are not right for each other," Karpovsky says. "And they have destinies and their destinies are not intersecting destinies, and he's getting in the way of her fulfilling her own destiny. I think Ray is hoping that this will really sink in with Desi and he'll man up and have this moment of clarity, this road to Damascus moment, and finally pull back on this wedding."

Another somewhat odd couple spending time together in the fifth-season premiere were Adam and Jessa (Jemima Kirke), who took the friendship they'd established in season four to the next level with a kiss at the wedding. While Konner was quick to say she couldn't talk about what's next for Hannah's friend and her ex, Konner did share what was behind their brief make-out session.

"We started to hint at that last year; we knew it was coming," she says. "They're two people who are almost too volatile and too sexual and too reckless that it feels a little bit like it's only a matter of time, and I don't think there was anything going on behind Hannah's back in that way. I do think they built a friendship through AA and it started to turn and they're both really freaked out about that possibility."

What did you think of "Wedding Day" and what's next for Jessa and Adam and Shoshanna, briefly back from Japan, and her instant-soup-mogul boyfriend (Jason Ritter), whom she chose not to invite to Marnie's wedding? Sound off in the comments.

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