Lena Dunham and the girls of "Girls"
(CBS News) Lena Dunham's hit TV series "Girls" is the most talked-about television these days . . . and she talked about it all with our Tracy Smith:
If you want to feel better about yourself, consider Hannah Horvath, the central character in HBO's comedy-drama series, "Girls." Hannah is an aspiring writer on her own in New York City. She's too self-absorbed to be worldly, too awkward to be popular, too, well, dumpy to skate by on looks alone.
For the show's creator Lena Dunham, the dumpy part is purely intentional. She says Hannah's clothes are specifically tailored to be LESS flattering. "Yeah. We will do a thing sometimes where we'll, like, all fit clothes with Spanx so that they're kinda, like, fit right. And then I'll remove the Spanx so they're kinda like rumpled up."
"So you want her to look a little awkward?" asked Smith.
"Yeah. I think it's important. I think it's a big part of who she is."
Pity poor Hannah. But if you want to feel BAD about yourself, look at Lena Dunham. At 26, she's the head writer, executive producer and as of last month the Golden Globe-winning star of what might be the most talked-about TV show in recent memory.
If "Seinfeld" gave us a show about nothing, "Girls" is a show about everything. Hannah and her pals (played by Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke) are twenty-somethings trying to make it in New York City.
The characters live, love, and love far too graphically for us to show here.
Kirke says that, while the show can sometimes be vulgar, "Probably it does have to be. The obvious example would be a sex scene. I mean, if we're really going to show what a sex scene looks like between two people who only sort of know what they're doing, it's going to be not that sexy."
"That's what makes our show so unique," added Williams. "And then also a little bit alienating, 'cause people aren't expecting that. And it's definitely a challenge. It's saying, 'Okay, we're putting this out here for you. We want you to know these characters this well. Can you play ball?'"
Twenty-something angst is a fertile topic for Dunham, a New York native who says she's been writing plays since she was seven. She got noticed in a big way with 2010's "Tiny Furniture," her film about a recent college grad stumbling into adult life. The HBO "Girls" deal followed soon after.
Now, "Girls" is a phenomenon, and bashing the show has become a sport in itself. A frequent dig is that the cast got their jobs because of their famous parents.
WEB EXTRA VIDEO: Click on the video player below to hear Lena Dunham tell Tracy Smith that appearing naked on her hit HBO show is meant to be poetic, not political.
Jemima Kirke's dad is Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke; Zosia Mamet's dad is prize-winning playwright David Mamet; Allison Williams' father is NBC anchor Brian Williams.
Dunham -- herself the daughter of noted artist Carroll Dunham and photographer Laurie Simmons -- says it's the mother of all misperceptions.
"The whole, you know, kids-of-famous-people dialogue is so kind of, like, overdone and outplayed to me," Dunham said. "That is one that I really can attribute to jealously, 'cause why else would anyone say that? Why else would you be so horrified by the children of creative people continuing on to do creative endeavors, unless you felt like there was something you were owed that you weren't getting that they were getting?
"And also, my parents are famous in the tiniest corner of the world, which is the art world," she added. "I dare any of your viewers to, you know, describe any of my parents' artistic works, or even name their names."
"So it didn't exactly help you with your entree into the film business?" asked Smith.
"No. As much as I would like to say having an abstract painter for a father and a mom who, you know, takes photos of small dollhouse interiors, it was not the thing that brought me to the attention of HBO."
Now it's her show getting her attention -- and a raft of awards, including a pair of Golden Globes.
"Do you guys feel like you have to warn your family that certain scenes are coming, those uncomfortable ones?" asked Smith.
"I've found a heads-up is a nice gesture," laughed Williams.