Does anyone not have a very strong opinion about Lena Dunham? The Golden Globes adore her edgy HBO comedy Girls. So does Jon Hamm. And Jon Stewart. And broke twentysomethings everywhere. And probably their parents, too. But in this week’s cover story, Dunham acknowledges that her show has also earned some haters, and she’s ready to respond to everyone from James Franco (who famously called Dunham out for “creating another show about white people… [set] in one of the most culturally mixed cities in the world”) to Barbara Walters (who said she found the show’s depiction of sex “shocking” and “depressing”). Other things she’s ready to reveal to senior writer Melissa Maerz? The story of The Great High School Cheese Puff Fiasco that helped shape her taste in comedy. The inspiration behind that amazing conversation about race that she had with Donald Glover on Girls. Oh, and what happened with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and that “middle school” comment.
Dunham isn’t the only woman behind a show we love. In The Women Who Run TV, EW celebrates the on and off-screen talent creating the smartest, female-driven comedies and drama on TV right now. We eavesdrop on conversations between Scandal’s show runner Shonda Rhimes and star Kerry Washington, Homeland’s writer Meredith Stiehm and star Claire Danes, and New Girl’s show runner Liz Meriwether and star Zooey Deschanel. We get Amy Poehler’s advice for making it in show business, and we chat with Mindy Kaling about the perks of being a boss lady. Then we throw a spotlight on the directors, producers, and other talent who work behind the scenes. All of these women answered our burning questions. What’s it like to be the only female writer on Homeland? Who was the real-life inspiration for Scandal’s Olivia Pope? And is there anything Tina Fey can’t do?
For more with Dunham and the Women Who Run TV, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands February 1.