'Girls': Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner on Series Finale Debate, Hannah's "Final Maturation"

As the HBO series comes to an end, the showrunners talk about the show's "primary love story" and how its narcissistic main character will do as a mom.
Mark Schafer
Hannah (Lena Dunham) in the 'Girls' series finale

[Warning: The following story contains spoilers about the Girls series finale.]

With Hannah (Lena Dunham) looking straight ahead as she breastfeeds her son, Grover, Girls faded to black for the last time.

The series finale, the 10th episode in the show's sixth season, was a somewhat untraditional one, with only two of the four girls, Hannah and Allison Williams' Marnie — and Hannah's mom, Loreen (Becky Ann Baker) — navigating life upstate with Hannah's new baby. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, co-showrunner Jenni Konner called the final episode's storyline "the spinoff that will never be," while Dunham referred to it as "our own, special, deranged Kate & Allie."

Indeed, the penultimate ninth episode was more of a traditional finale, with all four girls together for the last time.

When asked why the Girls team chose to structure the ending that way, Konner attributes the decision to executive producer Judd Apatow: "Judd was the first person who said, 'I think we should do our finale, and then we should do the end we really want to do, so that everyone gets satisfied and we also get to — we see how everyone wraps up, we wrap it up, and we also get to see a little bit more.'"

Konner adds, though, that they struggled with the writing of the last installment, and with their writing team.

"One of the funniest things was that our writers really turned against us on it," she says, laughing.

Dunham adds, "We were shooting one day and we were like, 'Can you give us notes on this script and they were like, 'We don't need it, let's just have nine episodes.''"

"That was like our big note from our writers," Konner says. "They just wanted it to be traditional, and they just felt like that was enough. In their defense, at that point we were struggling with [episode] 10. [Hannah's] big 'come to Jesus' moment with that teenager was maybe 14 different moments during the writing of that."

The finale opens with a nice callback to the pilot, showing Hannah and Marnie asleep in bed together. After Marnie volunteers to help Hannah raise her child, viewers see Hannah as a mom struggling to get Grover to breastfeed, leading to a breakdown that has her ranting at her own mom and storming off. Walking around the neighborhood until dark, Hannah runs into a teenage girl who's dealing with her own crisis. After the girl starts whining about being unable to see her boyfriend because her mom wants her to do her homework, Hannah lectures her.

Dunham and Konner talked to THR about that scene, Hannah and Marnie's friendship, how they weren't trying to make a statement about breastfeeding with the finale, Hannah as a mom and the story behind her son's name, and what the future holds for Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Adam (Adam Driver) as a couple.

With Hannah's big moment with that girl, what were you trying to accomplish?

Konner: Well, you know, the opening scene of the show ever is her being with her parents, being bratty, getting cut off, asking why she needs money, being the ultimate child not ready to grow up, so I think it was just this idea to show in a very Hannah way a final maturation.

Dunham: And I think that girl is being delusional, as Jenni said, in a very similar way to where we found Hannah. So to be able to have sympathy for what the role of a parent is and how stressful and exhausting it is is huge for her.

Konner: We wanted it to say, "Yeah it's Hannah, but she's going to be OK with this baby. Don't worry about the baby." We didn't want to end it with someone being like, "Should we call Child Services?"

How do you think Hannah will do as a mom?

Dunham: One the one hand: terrible. But on the other hand: Aren't most of us dealing with the fact that we have moms who either weren't ready to be moms or had some level of resentment about it? Everybody is dealing with the different iteration of pain their mom has handed them. I don't think she's going to be any worse than anybody else.

Konner: Me, too. I also don't think she's the first narcissistic mom in town. So I think she's going to be great. … She's not going to be the most traditional mom of all time, but I think she really will be good.

Dunham: And I think Hannah's displayed, especially over the last couple of seasons, that other people's comfort matters to her. She doesn't leave them when it counts. She uses her own strange methods to try to make them feel better. She knows how to nurture, even if it's not always her first instinct.

Why did you want to center the final episode around Hannah's baby not being able to breastfeed?

Konner: That was like this weird pressure that mothers are put under, like this idea that if you can't breastfeed, you're not doing something properly, or if you choose not to. And so we were interested in just telling that conversation. I think we definitely show both sides of it. I don't feel that we're saying, "Now she's a good mom because she can breastfeed" or something like that. It's much more the struggle. It's such a fundamental thing that would make you feel like you're doing it wrong.

Dunham: A couple people who have seen it, like our editor, were like, "Is this some kind of a statement on 'Should women breastfeed? Should they not breastfeed?'" And we were like, "We're the last f—ing people who have a f—ing opinion on what you should do with your body. Anything that makes your day easier, as long as you're not feeding your baby crack in milk, is really good by us."

You decide to name the baby, a boy, "Grover." What went into that decision?

Dunham: I came in one day and I was like, "The baby's name is Grover." And we were like, "Sounds about right." We were kind of trying to figure out what kind of slightly off name Hannah would give her child. And then it was Jenni who had the idea to have [the baby's father, Riz Ahmed's] Paul-Louis say [that he thought] Grover would be a really nice name for a baby. Like, "I want there to be some evidence that he is the father and that he mattered." So when she put the line in, it felt so beautiful and natural that it all retrofitted so nicely. We knew that the baby's name was Grover Horvath before we knew that "Grover" was the fantasy name of [Hannah's] water-skiing f—buddy. … We also thought that "Grover" was just odd enough that Hannah would be comfortable with it, while she wasn't also naming her child "Plutonium."

Why did you decide to have Marnie be the one who joins Hannah upstate to help her raise child?

Konner: We always said that they were the primary love story. It's well expressed when Marnie's like, "Yes, I did it! I'm a better friend than any of you!" It's just this moment when you realize that Marnie's just so competitive that she's just got to win that. And I think they do truly love each other, and I don't think they will end up being, as Lena says, the weirdest spinoff of Kate & Allie. But their friendship really is the one that we've tried to maintain that, through fighting, that could be the one that survived, just maybe not in the way that they expected it to.

Dunham: I think that's part of long-term friendship. Like I look at my mother, who is in her 60s now. A lot of her friends are people that she met when she came to New York when she was 21. And the relationships have evolved and they've been challenging but there's an essential understanding that they're not willing to give up on, and I like to think that's who Hannah and Marnie are going to be.

What's the future for Jessa and Adam? Are they still together? Do they stay together? That's sort of left up in the air.

Konner: I think they're definitely still together now, but I don't know that they're in it for the long haul.

Dunham: I think that they're together for now, and I think that they're probably going to turn out a couple of children.

Dunham: I think they're in it for long enough to really do some damage. I hope it goes great for them. I had always heard about people who have parents … who were passionate and break up and then get back together and get divorced. I feel like Jessa and Adam are headed for one of those. If they're together when they're 50, they definitely had other families and returned to each other.

What did you think about the final episode of Girls? Was it everything you hoped it would be? Sound off in the comments.

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