EXCLUSIVE: An Oral History of 'Girls' Fan and Cast Favorite: 'Welcome to Bushwick aka the Crackcident'
By Stacy Lambe and Darla Murray
Dubbed a millennial’s answer to Sex and the City when it premiered, Girls proved itself to be much more than that. Created by Lena
Dunham, the show started out as a spotlight on a group of 20-something women --
Hannah (Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna
(Zosia Mamet) -- who were as lost as they were indignant about perceived
notions of what it means to be an adult, with Hannah proclaiming herself to be
a voice of a generation in the pilot episode.
Over the course of six seasons and 62 episodes, the HBO
series expanded its world to include as many men -- Adam (Adam Driver), Ray
(Alex Karpovsky), Elijah (Andrew Rannells) and Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) -- as
there were women while addressing issues of adulthood, addiction, rape, sexism
season, fans followed them down their own paths -- Hannah’s ongoing journey to
become a writer, Marnie’s often misguided attempts to find (and define her own)
happiness, Shosh’s desire to find value and meaning in her work and Jessa’s
bumpy road to maturity. Often, that meant all four “girls” were not in the same
room, which executive producer Jenni Konner admits is not very common for a
show meant to be about a group of friends. In fact, it wasn’t until
episode seven of season one, “Welcome to Bushwick aka the Crackcident,” that fans got to see what happens when Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna all interact with each
other -- and some of those boys in their collective lives.
In the episode that premiered on May 27, 2012, the four
girls, Charlie (Christopher Abbott), Ray and Adam all attend the same warehouse
party -- the best one ever, according to Jessa -- in Bushwick, Brooklyn. What
followed was a series of shenanigans -- including Shoshanna famously smoking
crack -- as well as some unexpected character development, particularly for
Hannah, who confronts Adam about their relationship.
Ahead of the Girls
series finale, which airs Sunday, April 16 at 10 p.m. ET, the cast, Konner and executive
producer Judd Apatow look back on this rare episode that featured all the core characters in the same location -- a feat only repeated a handful of times during the series -- that not only set the course for many of its storylines but proved to be a fan and cast favorite.
Lena Dunham (creator,
executive producer, co-writer and “Hannah”): The first interesting thing
about [the episode] is that is the first episode of Girls that Jenni Konner and I wrote together -- we ended up writing
many episodes of the show together, but that was our first real collaboration,
handing pages back and forth.
Jenni Konner (executive producer and co-writer): We
tend to check into hotels and watch Scandal and then write and then watch Scandal and then write. We have a very
strong writers’ room where everyone can do their own script. So, we sit and
break the story in a fair amount of detail and then we go off and write
together. It’s usually me and Lena or me, Lena and Judd [Apatow]sometimes just sitting in a room and
saying, “You take this scene and I’ll take this scene.”
really had the idea for the structure and the idea that for the first time, we
were seeing all of them in a social situation together and this would be this
very specific reveal of how each of them behaves -- not just when they're
hanging out alone in their apartments, but what they look like as social
Konner: That is the first episode where all the
girls are in the same place in the first season. So they’re not all together
until episode seven, which is pretty untraditional in TV when it’s about a
group of girls who don’t see each other all the time. We tried to make it more
realistic friendships, but we did want to do an episode where we did see them
all interacting and what that would look like. I think it taught us a lot about
the four of those girls.
(“Ray”): We only really see each other at premiere parties, press events
and occasionally these big scenes. So, you have a certain dynamic when you hang
out with one or two people and then a new kind of dynamic forms when you're in
this big group environment. It's fun to find and explore and get to know
someone better based on this critical mass as a group. It brings out different
Konner: I think
the statistic is literally that they're all together 12 times over the series.
It's really low. But we thought it would be really fun.
(“Marnie”): I remember it as the first time Lena really learned how much
power she had in her role -- neither Lena nor Jenni somehow realized that what they
put in a script would appear onscreen.
Dunham: It really
came when Jenni asked for a baby. She was like, “Wouldn't it be funny to have a
baby at the party?” Then it showed up and it was crying. Jenni was like, “I
want it to go away; I feel that it is cruel. I don't want this baby to be
here.” But that's how we got the great line from Alex Karpovsky: “What the f**k
is a baby doing at this party?” We also asked for a group of clowns. Then
everything we asked for arrived and we were like, “Whoa. This is a wild power.”
sure they wrote that and they were like, “Well, of course no one will bring an
actual baby. No one is willing to have their baby be at this party.”
Dunham: We shot
for a week and a half in a warehouse in Bushwick at night. We were also all
losing our minds because we were living completely nocturnally.
Konner: It was an
all-night shoot. It was 150 degrees.
(“Shoshanna”): We were vampires.
(“Elijah”): This was only my third time working on television at this
point. I was still doing The Book of
Mormon, and we shot all my stuff in one day. I remember having to go
Karpovsky: I was
also excited about this episode because it was directed by Jody Lee Lipes, who
was also our cinematographer on Girls
and Tiny Furniture. He's a brilliant,
weird kind of genius. I was excited to see the vision unfold.
(“Jessa”): I'm traumatized from something Jody said to me during that. He's
like, “Jemima on that line [“This is going to be the best party ever”] you
sound like and look like you're pretending.” I was like, “It's true.” But it's
really funny though, actually, because I am pretending.
Dunham: I still
love the shot of the four of us walking in together holding hands more than
anything. It’s so Ocean's Eleven.
was really essential to look real -- even the casting of the place had to look
really real and it really did. That's when we first introduce Roberta
[Colindrez] who plays Tako, and we were really excited that all of Adam’s
friends would be lesbians. That just made a lot of sense to us.
friend Rachel Lord played the topless girl Jemima shoves out of the way. She
was thrilled for the job.
were so many people in the background. The location was huge and also, in
retrospect, very unsafe. We were climbing on shit that was like, “I'm pretty
sure this isn't up to code.”
Dunham: We were
also surrounded by hundreds of Bushwick extras. The show wasn't on yet, so we
weren't famous. We were no one and our set had been taken over by these style
Mamet: It was so
crazy. I remember whenever they would re-up the craft table and we'd break for
a second, they would descend like locusts. We would be trying to get a snack
and then they'd all depart after, like, 90 seconds and it’d be, like, scraps
Dunham: We also
had 11 cases of prop beer stolen. But the joke was on them because it was nonalcoholic. So
they were, like, off getting “wasted.”
Dunham: That was
special because every single character had their own, very distinct arc, and
that's something that's really hard to achieve in an episode. It’s hard to find
a way to give everyone their emotional due. I also feel like it was Zosia's “coming
out” as a character.
Mamet: I've never
done crack. It was tough. I was definitely nervous.
Shoshanna is based on my cousin, I have a friend who accidentally smoked crack.
Mamet: I’ve said
this before, but I wanted to be a good actor and do my research, so I started
to find YouTube videos of people high on crack and that just led to a really
dark place very quickly. I was like, “Obviously, this is not going to work.” So
it was really a collaboration, because everybody was weighing in with the
little knowledge that they had. I was like, “Maybe I'll try a lot of
twitching,” and Jodi, very quickly, was like, “I think that makes it too much
like you're high on coke and that might be overboard.” So it was a mix of going
really extreme and then sort of pulling it back and trying to find the middle
ground, which is particularly tough with Shoshanna.
Dunham: We talked
about the idea that at first she's freaking out but then once she's really on
it, that she actually slows down a little bit. She already talks so fast that
she seems like she's on crack, so the idea became that time kind of slows
down. It almost calms her.
question we kept asking was: “What is Shosh like on crack?” Because she's so
Dunham: I love
when she says, “Don't tell my mom. Don't even tell me.”
even tell me” is so good. How many times have we thought that?
Konner: I had a
friend who took a model mugging class, which was like a self-defense class in
high school. The guys are full of foam and one of the things you're supposed to
do is scream what you're hitting -- that's part of the training -- like,
“Groin” and “Neck.” So I always thought that would be so funny to see it played
out. Shosh would be the exact person who would take that class. Also, the
idea that she would lose her skirt and there would be no explanation for it
really made us laugh in the writers’ room.
Williams: It was also
the beginning of Ray-Shoshanna.
Karpovsky: It was
a really big script for my character because it starts introducing the
possibility of a romance with him and Shosh. I was particularly excited about
Mamet: We played
that clip at Inside the Actors Studio.
Watching that when they're essentially strangers to each other and then knowing
where they end up was so interesting because I hadn't seen the episode in so
were just certain combinations you put together over the years that you were
like, “This is a real magical combination.” (Last year, just having Andrew
[Rannells] with Becky Ann Baker was really fun for us.) I always thought Shosh
and Ray were kind of a perfect couple, because they both had more strong
opinions than anybody else. They both knew exactly who they were, what they
wanted, and told everyone all the time very directly. So, I always thought it
would be funny to see what they would be like together.
someone dresses as Jessa for Halloween, they wear that dress. It’s always the
feathers and the bouffant.
Kirke: The dress
was mine, but it was very fragile. It was so old, it was actually rotting. So [costume
designer Jennifer Rogien] copied it.
Dunham: They did that
a lot of over the years.
Jennifer Rogien: [As
told to Fashionista] The dress itself
was a piece from the 1930s. I didn't know if it was going to hold up the
production demands for the show, so we remade it so it could travel through the
fight and the hospital and the potential blood. The look has to be right, but
there is also a practical demand that we have to take into consideration for
every single piece.
Rogien is a genius. The way she talks about wardrobe, it’s so much deeper than
what you're thinking. It’s very deep and academic and amazing. Our costume
meetings were 10 minutes long. There was never a moment like, “That doesn't
work at all.” Seriously.
Dunham: Then, the
hair was a Gibson girl-style hairstyle.
Mamet: That was
the strongest look that I'd ever seen her in.
Rannells: When I
first started, it was just supposed to be one episode, so to get to learn more
about Elijah in this episode -- like him being in Rent, his relationship with Marnie and uncovering more of who he is
-- was really fun and exciting.
Dunham: We always
knew Allison could sing because we found her through her YouTube video, where
she sang the Mad Men theme song. So
we always knew, between her and Andrew, that there was going to be some
singing. We liked that they had a musical theater college backstory, because Allison
had so many funny stories.
Konner: Both of
them have such gorgeous voices that it just seemed like a real tragedy not to
use them as often as we could. Actually, episode seven of [season six] really
showcases Andrew's full talents and it's so special to watch.
Dunham: I will
never forget when Jenni and I were sitting in my trailer trying to figure out
how to end that scene and she was like, “Oh my god, we should slap Marni in the
face.” And we were like, “Can we? We will.”
physical stuff was all scripted. The slap, all the running -- I think Adam
picking up Roberta was probably not. Usually, when Adam picks up people it
wasn't scripted until later seasons when we realized how great he was at
picking up people and how funny it looked. All the physical stuff was pretty
planned out in that episode. It's kind of rare, so it’s usually pretty plotted.
Rannells: What I
was nervous about was in the script, I was supposed to haul off and hit her,
which I was not comfortable with. Even as a character, I can't imagine doing
that. I remember saying to Lena, “Maybe if I was a smaller gay, it would be one
thing. But I'm 6-foot-2 and it feels mean.” So we had to come up with a way
that I could hit her and it wasn't too violent, which sounds ridiculous. We
worked on a lot of different things to make sure Allison was comfortable and I
was comfortable. I’d never hit anyone before, let alone a girl. So, it felt
weird to figure out logistically.
thing we didn't realize yet is that if you write a slap in a script, a stunt coordinator
shows up. They just wanted him to slap me, which I was totally fine with, but
of course, we had to choreograph this careful slap. It ended up being a bop
that is very clearly not making contact.
Mamet: It's also
the physical manifestation of the way he says “Ma'am.”
what I remember being stressed by: “Here I am, this new character on the show.
Am I going to look like a f**king dick because I smacked Marnie?” Turns out
people wanted me to hit Marnie.
Williams: He also
mentioned my dad [Brian Williams].
Dunham: There was
a part where he was like, “By the way, you look like Brian Williams and not in
a sexy way,” and Allison just goes, “F**k you.”
has a unique role in this show a lot of times. He's sort of the audience. So I
get to say some sh*t to these women that some people at home are like, “Thank
you! Call her out on that.”
favorite thing, which is like a real subtle detail Jenni wrote in, is when
Jemima is at the ER with James LeGros and we have the woman who is there
obsessed with getting pills. She's just crazy. Anyone who has ever been to the
ER in New York knows that, like, half of these people have problems and half of
it is just people who are drug addicts. So, she was holding her side and saying,
“I've got appendicitis.” That actress was so polite and then she just
transformed into a raging drug addict.
Kirke: We were
talking about [how] she had just adopted a baby or was in the process of it and
then she was like, “Go f**k a…”
Dunham: I love,
love, love when Jemima -- and this was all her -- nervously pets James’ head
when he cries, because what is more revolting that being cried on by a grown
Kirke: I could barely
do it. It was the ponytail.
Konner: We’ve never seen Adam in the real world
[before this]. Hannah’s never seen him with his shirt on. None of the girls had
met him. He’s kind of a Snuffleupagus of Hannah’s life until that moment. We
just sort of thought, “What is Adam’s point of view of this relationship? Let’s
show what it looks like from the other side of being in a relationship with
Hannah.” It’s similar to introducing someone’s parents. It’s like, “Oh, that’s
how you build Shoshanna, having those two people.”
(executive producer): It's always fun to slowly reveal more layers of the
character, and Adam [Driver] was somebody who we met at the auditions and you
could tell he was a fascinating person.
favorite thing about that episode was at the end when Hannah’s in the big fight
with Adam. We've only seen Adam from her point of view until then -- and he
seems withdrawn and withholding and like he's not really that into her -- and
then he says, “You never ask me anything about myself. You don't know shit
about me.” To me, that moment was the moment we realized Hannah has become an
unreliable narrator and maybe we shouldn't have trusted her so much. It’s when
Adam became a man.
Apatow: A lot of
the creation of that character was a collaboration between the writers and him.
It was really fun to try to figure out who he was. And one way to do that was
to see her side of it and then just flip it and realize, “Oh, we didn't know
any of this information, that she doesn't treat him well, that she's afraid of
commitment and she's a weird person to be in a relationship with.”
Konner: It’s such
a big, pivotal scene -- that was one where we didn’t play around that much
because we needed to get what we needed to get. [Adam, Allison and Lena’s
reactions were] completely scripted. The whole idea of that was that we’re
going to do this hard cut to Hannah being so happy. I think it’s in the stage
direction: “A huge smile spreads across her face.” We knew that was going to be
very delicious for her.
Apatow: It set
the relationship off into a new trajectory. It was more complicated than we
thought. It wasn't just a sweet girl with a unique guy.