Lena Dunham is everywhere.
If you turn on your TV tonight to watch the Golden Globes (NBC, 8 p.m. ET), you'll likely catch her in the audience. That's because the wunderkind is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy TV series, facing heavyweights such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus and hosts Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler. If you turn on HBO an hour later, you'll catch her on the show that made her famous, "Girls." Tonight is the second season premiere.
If you think hard, one year ago today you probably didn't know who Lena Dunham was. Aside from her (not bad at all) debut indie film "Tiny Furniture," Dunham didn't do much at the time to justify public interest. By March, all that had changed.
It started with the "New York Magazine" cover story everyone buzzed about. Two weeks later, Season 1 of "Girls" premiered. The lives of 20-somethings and people who miss their 20s everywhere were changed. The way people talked about their 20s had changed. The discourse, the very conversation people carried, all that had changed: It became raw, uncomfortable, uncensored, real. The person responsible? Dunham.
The show was a hit, numbers and otherwise. Even the people who hated it, who accused Dunham of racism and saw it as a portrayal of whiny overprivileged girls, watched it. They wouldn't know what to complain about otherwise.
Between April and June, you could catch her every Sunday night feeling feelings and talking about feeling feelings. It felt refreshing, since it's been a while (if ever) that someone iterated so eloquently the very same feelings we usually bottle up. Dunham, not only the main character, but the writer and director on the show as well, also became producer Judd Apatow's protege.
Reaffirming her ubiquity, if you head over to the theater you'll catch her cameo in Apatow's funny-sad flick "This is 40." Dunham also collaborated with Apatow on the Vanity Fair Comedy Issue he edited last month and may have been the strongest voice there, summing up the 12 things she's learned in 2012 ("Drake is not interested in you romantically or even sexually," being one example, "It's possible to feel like a creepy, pervy producer even if you are a 26-year-old girl," being another.)
If "Tiny Furniture" was all about chubby, pasty, stringy haired Dunham, this past year was a testament to the transformative power of Tinseltown. Dunham, adamant about remaining her real, round self -- flashback: She's sitting naked on a toilet seat eating cake at the Emmys -- went from the girl whose boobs you don't want to see to rocker girlfriend (she's currently dating Jack Antonoff of the band Fun.) She got a pixie cut. Longtime friend Zac Posen lent her clothes. Annie Liebovitz shot her on the Brooklyn Bridge. Terry Richardson shot her for "V" magazine. Grant Delin shot her for "Interview." EW made her into Twiggy. She graced the magazine cover of British clothing e-retailer "Asos."
In between, you can catch her on Instagram.
With 170,000 followers and counting (and another half a million followers on Twitter,) Dunham keeps her fans satisfied with daily doses of quips and filtered photos of herself, her famous friends, her less famous friends, and most recently her new dog, Lamby.
Soon, a book will come out. This past year Dunham wrote for teen mag "Rookie" about her first time and for the prestigious New Yorker about her first love and Nora Ephron, though the two may be interchangeable. Her book pitch earned her a controversial $3.6 million, pinned as a self-help advice book of personal essays. According to leaked excerpts, Dunham will try to communicate her self-deprecating wit in writing, just like she does on "Girls." Success is a near guarantee.
That said, it is hard to ignore the intense backlash the 26-year-old received since bursting onto the scene -- over the race issue, the repeated nudity, the vanity -- almost as much as it is hard to ignore her talent. With all our adoration, there are those out there who slam her every move. Just last Thursday night a dainty, radiant looking Dunham told David Letterman about the one insult she loved most.
"[Howard Stern] said, 'Congrats to her. It’s so hard for little fat chicks to get anything going these days,'" Dunham said with a laugh, referring to herself. "It put me in the best mood! I just want to be like, my gravestone says, ‘She was a little fat chick and she got it going."
Man, we even admire her sense of self.
So what's next? In September, Dunham was nominated for four Emmys but won none. If she wins her first Golden Globe tonight, the sky is truly the limit. We're not sure what she can do that she hasn't yet done but we can hardly wait to find out.