Lena Dunham Defends the Sex Scenes on 'Girls': 'They're Not Gratuitous'

by Leanne Aguilera 5:55 PM PDT, March 08, 2015
Photo: HBO

It's well-known that HBO's critically-acclaimed series Girls has pushed the boundaries of showing sex on TV.

The unapologetically exposed scenes can range anywhere from awkwardly passionate to uncomfortable and emotional, but according to Girls' creator Lena Dunham, they all have one thing in common: they're on the show for a reason.

"We really do try to show -- and people may laugh at this -- but we do sex scenes that we think really do push the characters and the plot forward, and that doesn’t feel gratuitous," the 28-year-old executive producer explained to a packed room of fans at Paleyfest on Sunday.

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Dunham referenced one season five sex scene in particular that was used as an information cheat-sheet to bring audiences up to speed on Marnie's current relationship status. "I'm sure that someone would have a quibble with that, but what we really saw in that first episode was that Marnie was the most vulnerable that she has ever been," Dunham explained of the character evolving scene.

Girls star Allison Williams agreed and expressed that it was the perfect way to fill audiences in on what they needed to know, in the least amount of time.

"The dialogue [in the sex scene] was that Dezzy said, 'I love that' and Marnie said, 'I love you too,'" Williams said to a roar of laughter from the audience. "And I know that people may not have heard the dialogue, but it was everything we needed to know in like 12 seconds to bring the audience up to speed about Marnie's entire love life, and where she physically and emotionally is."

"The ultimate [shock] to me was that a masturbation scene of mine this season got cut," Williams said with a laugh. "We're at the point now where me masturbating is so boring."

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According to the showrunners, each and every frame on a Girls' sex scene is carefully planned out. "What we always do is we take a photo of Lena doing the position," Girls executive producer Jenni Konner explained. Dunham then chimed in with a quick clarification: "We do the position clothed in the writers' room," she said.

Dunham's on-screen co-star, Andrew Rannells, is fully supportive of the way sex scenes are used on Girls, and it's for this reason that he would not be opposed if he was ever asked to do a full-frontal scene.

"I don’t think anyone has read anything in the scripts that doesn't seem like it doesn't belong in this world," he remarked. "They would never ask us to do things that were not organic to these characters or that don't belong in the story. It's there for a reason -- it's not just there to do it."

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And although Dunham is all for the sex scenes on Girls, don't expect to see the star strip down on Thursday's episode of Scandal – in which the actress guest stars in a very questionable wig. Dunham was tight-lipped on the details of her appearance, but the star confessed that she was not walking around set in her "underpants" like she typically does on Girls. "Their set is a delight," she added.

Girls airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Can't get enough Girls? Click on our video below for your exclusive look at Lena Dunham's most hilarious bloopers from season four!