Before you write that "Girls" think piece, know showrunner Jenni Konner will probably actually read it. Konner sat down with Slate TV critic Willa Paskin on Thursday as part of the 2014 New York Television festival's Creative Keynote series to discuss her early career, the Internet and "Girls." Here are some of the most fascinating things we learned:
1. Konner loves the Internet fervor surrounding "Girls."
Though she acknowledges it can turn nasty, Konner appreciates fans and critics' heated engagement with "Girls." "I actually love it," she said. "There are days where I'm like 'Oh my god, everyone is evil and so mean and terrible and why are they talking about bodies like that.' But in general, I actually think it's really exciting. And having done shows before there was Twitter, it's nice to engage with people most of the time when they're not awful." The showrunner said she reads many of the think pieces about the show, and has learned from the most thoughtful. "Even when it's kind of terrible or really angry, I tend to really enjoy people thinking about 'Girls.' If it's a thoughtful piece, even if it's like people completely misreading things, I still enjoy reading them," she said. "For every 200 stupid things, someone will say something thoughtful, and you feel so heard and it's so exciting. When people are super nasty then I just shut it out. But if someone has a point -- like when we got into all that stuff about race after the first season, we learned a lot, because the people who were thoughtful about it and who were smart and who came at us in a thoughtful way made us think differently about what we were doing."
2. She can never predict the episodes that will stir the most controversy.
Over its three seasons, "Girls" has been known to provoke controversy with certain episodes and storylines. But Konner says she hasn't managed to predict ahead of time what parts of the seasons will stir people up the most. "What is funny is that I literally can never predict what people will react to. Whenever I'm like 'Oh my god, that's gonna be a big deal,' it just, like, breezes over," she said. "It's really funny because I don't have any gauge for what people will respond to in that way or not."
3. Konner thinks Tim Molloy -- The Wrap reporter who asked about the purpose of nudity on the show at this year's TCA Winter press tour -- should "google it."
At one point, Paskin steered the discussion toward reactions to Lena Dunham's body on "Girls" by saying: "You have gotten mad at people asking about this before. I don't think I'm asking in this way, but have you been surprised how obsessed people are about Lena's body?" Konner then addressed her remarks to Molloy. "Yeah. I mean the time that I got really mad about it which I think you're referring to -- the TCA's, my rage spiral -- was because it was our third season. And the guy, he asked this question, [he] was a 'journalist,' he asked a question that was like: 'Why do we have to look at you naked so much?' And that's the kind of thing that I'm just, like, 'Go fuck yourself, dude.' We were also at the TCAs. We've been to that place for three years now talking about her nudity. If it had been the first season, maybe. But we were so, like ... I mean, google it. Google it. There are so many answers to the question about her nudity. The whole thing was so offensive. I don't even think in the transcript you could tell how fucking mad he sounded. He sounded so enraged about her nudity. And I was just, like, I can't."
4. She thinks "unlikeable" characters are just realistic.
The conversation also touched on the famous topic of the "Girls" characters' likability, and Konner said it's not something the writers are concerned with. "What I personally think is that I like so many people in real life who are probably unlikable," she said. "We all like unlikeable people and we like people who do bad things. That's like HBO to me. It's, like, 'It's not TV, it's HBO,' but it should be, 'People who do bad things, we like them anyway.' That is every show they've made. Kind of all great shows tend to be that. So I think the whole idea of likability is kind of silly because I think we all go through our lives making choices to enjoy people who are not perfect."
Konner also said she thinks self-centered behavior is a truthful part of being young. "They're really young," she said. "Part of it to me, especially with Hannah, is that she's really young and she's getting older and we're trying to grow her and make her a little bit less narcissistic and self involved. And we'll see if you guys agree with that. But I do think that they're really young girls, and I know I, at that time -- like, I look at myself and I'm like I cannot believe I had friends, or parents. I can't believe anyone talked to me. Or jobs. It's sort of this like really self-centered moment."
5. She and Dunham have mapped out the way all the "Girls" characters die.
Asked about how far into the future the writers have planned for the characters, Konner revealed that she and Lena once imagined all the characters' death scenarios. "Lena and I were at SXSW once, and we were in separate hotel rooms but we were on the phone, which is something we do a lot. And we figured out where everyone died," she said. "It was the 'Six Feet Under' ending. So we know where everyone dies."
6. Lena Dunham punctured her eardrum with a Q-tip the same year Hannah did.
Konner said it was difficult to film the scene in which Hannah punctured her ear drum with a Q-tip, in part because it was so close to when Dunham had done so in real life. "The first time we shot [the Q-tip scene], I could not watch because I was so grossed out. And Lena had truly pierced her eardrum in this exact way that year so it was very close." Unfortunately, Konner didn't manage to avoid looking forever. "So, she was doing it, and I couldn't watch and I just kept looking away and looking away," she said. "And we shot it and then I get a call from Judd [Apatow] a few days later. And he's like, 'You gotta reshoot the Q-tip.' And I was like, 'What do you mean?' And he was like, 'It's not gross at all.' And he's like, 'Were you watching?' And I was like, '... No.' So we had to reshoot it. So what you see -- the gruesomeness -- was me behind fingers."
7. Konner also stood by the romantic ending to the same episode, which Paskin admitted she had not been a huge fan of when it aired.
Viewers may remember the pretty unsavory reception to the finale of "Girls" second season, when the show suddenly went rom-com and had Adam swoop in as Hannah's savior. But Konner said she thinks it worked because it wasn't supposed to actually be a happy ending. "What we wanted it to end with was this feeling of her feeling rescued. But I think that that is not the same thing as a happy ending," she said. "It's someone in the middle of a breakdown and [Adam] has this crazy, over-the-top reaction that then sends them into a relationship that doesn't necessarily work, right? So for me it was a very sweeping romantic idea, but I always thought, well, this is Hannah's idea of what romance is, not the world's idea of what romance is. It was like her dream, but not necessarily a great dream."
"Girls" Season 4 will air in 2015.