Lena Dunham was just 23 years old when her second feature film, Tiny Furniture, won the best narrative feature prize at the South by Southwest Film Festival. The movie's success led to Dunham striking a deal with HBO for a comedy series about a group of 20-something girls navigating New York City.
Girls, which Dunham writes and also stars in, premiered on HBO in April. Critics immediately heaped praise on the comedy for its voice and colorful storylines; The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman called the show "one of the most original, spot-on, no-missed-steps series in recent memory." A New York Magazine cover story called the show revolutionary — and USA Today noted that "Dunham is clearly a talent to be reckoned with."
But not everyone was so enamored. Within hours of Girls' premiere on April 15, a backlash started growing online, with critics charging that the show is narcissistic, lacks racial diversity and showcases whiny, privileged millennials complaining about topics only relevant to whiny, privileged millennials.
On Monday's Fresh Air, Dunham talks about creating the show, as well as her own experiences navigating life in New York City after graduating from college. She also addresses some of the criticisms lobbed at Girls, and details how she came up with the ideas for many of the scenes in the show. Interview highlights are below.