When ‘Girls’ returns tonight in the UK on Sky Atlantic, it will be a bittersweet moment for the show’s many fans.
The sixth season is the last in the series covering the romances, and enormous rows, between the four lead girls, and a handful of boys, in the show that has done so much to dispel any glamorous myths about sex and the single Manhattan twenty-something.
On the eve of the final season, we spoke to one of the show’s biggest stars, the effervescent Allison Williams, whose character Marnie remains as frustrating in Series 6 as she is perfect, about the three biggest elements of the legacy that ‘Girls’ will leave in its wake…
“One of the biggest things people talk about is girls coming to them at a moment when they’ve known they need to let go of someone or something,” says Allison. “They can’t admit it to themselves. And they’ve told me ‘Girls’ helps them realise that.”
The second thing? “I think it’s also helped with their female friendships, that the purging that happens during a fight is a necessary evil and discomfort, and that if your friendship can survive it, it will be stronger for it,” says Allison. On her own friendship with the show’s creator Lena Dunham, Allison describes the quid pro quo - “She broadens my mind, I write packing lists for her.”
Finally, and most importantly, perhaps, the show provides a genuine antidote to so much material escapist fodder that passes for drama on our TV sets.
“It puts less pressure on an aspirational lifestyle for this age group,” is how Allison puts it. “There’s almost nothing that’s aspirational about it. We don’t have a chic brunch thing, none of us can always pay for our beer, if there is something aspirational, it gets thrown up on or perverted in some way.
“So it becomes about the real things underneath. You’re not watching a show and envying loafers. So you can focus on the things that are real, and that you can’t escape, the brutal reality of the show.
“When you’re not allowed to get lost in the accoutrements, you’re in it with them, there’s no escapism so you can have a more intimate relationship with what’s going on screen, and how it relates to your own life.”
Allison doesn’t strip on the show with Lena Dunham’s nonchalance but, inevitably, she has her own moments of vulnerability in filming some of the more intimate scenes. One in particular still plays on her mind…
“One of the most vulnerable moments I’ve ever had was when we all went to the Hamptons. Sitting at the table, and everyone was laughing at her portions, because she didn’t know the boys were staying for dinner, so everyone had tiny portions of food.
“It’s hard to do a scene with so many improvised insults are being thrown at you, without it starting to feel personal. I was on her side at this moment, she didn’t know how many people were staying for dinner, and all these boys came over, she wasn’t expecting them and then people were making fun of her… it was the feeling of being ganged up on, and as someone who’d been bullied, that was very familiar to me.”
As for Marnie, Allison remains protective even as she groans with everyone else every time Marnie falls into bed with someone else’s ex, or another character equally unsuitable.
“Every time I watch her make a mistake, I just wonder, is this her last mistake?” she laughs fondly. “But we make the same mistakes over and over again, and some lessons are just really hard to learn, and this area of boys is a hard one for Marnie.
“It doesn’t feel great to portray, just like it didn’t feel great to sleep with Shosh’s ex-boyfriend, or Hannah’s ex-boyfriend, and she even knows that it has to do with her dad. She said this two years ago.
“He’s a sex addict and absent from her life, she knows it, but you don’t get credit just for knowing, you get credit for no longer doing them. She frustrates me because I want her to get out of her own way, but I think eventually she’ll learn.”
Girls Season 6 premieres exclusively on NOW TV and Sky Atlantic on 13 February at 10pm or binge on the complete S1-5 Box Set now