Lena Dunham swivels in her leather mini-dress, drops her chin, then lifts her gaze to the lens. It's the South by Southwest festival’s first-ever launch of a TV series, and buzz has been rising all week, helped along by a clever HBO campaign sending "GIRLS" bicycles around Austin, Texas. In front of the Paramount Theatre, there's an actual red carpet-something not present when Dunham debuted her breakthrough movie, Tiny Furniture, back in 2010. "Well, this is new," says Alex Karpovsky, an indie director who appears in Girls, gesturing toward the carpet. "You know, I think I’ll just see where the moment takes me."
After the familiar HBO logo-hiss, buzz, dissolve-the three episodes begin. The audience awwws, they hoot; at times the laughter drowns out subtler jokes. Afterward, the show's three collaborators line up onstage: executive producer Judd Apatow, in a pink polo shirt and sneakers; Jenni Konner, Dunham's close friend and executive producer; and Dunham herself, the creator, star, writer, and director of Girls. Though she’s hovering on hooflike heels, Dunham has the body language of a very young woman.