Allison Williams on How Girls Has Changed Modern TV for the Better

Marnie from the Emmy-winning HBO series talks to Rotten Tomatoes before the sixth and final season premieres.

by | February 11, 2017 | Comments

Girls (HBO)

It’s with a heavy heart that we bid adieu to the Girls girls we love to love and love to hate: Hannah Horvath, Marnie Michaels, Jessa Johansson, and Shoshanna Shapiro.

Luckily, we still have a whole 10-episodes of mishaps left to help ween us off our Sunday-night habit, starting this weekend, when the sixth and final season of the Emmy-winning series created by Lena Dunham premieres on HBO.

The latter half of season 5 featured some of the best episodes of the series — ever. And that’s in no small part thanks to Allison Williams as the indelible Marnie.

Last season saw Marnie ball-and-chained to an ill-fated marriage with her musician partner Desi before coming to in her unforgettable standalone episode, “The Panic in Central Park,” and calling for a divorce. It was a moment of growth for the oft floundering and emotionally guarded Marnie, and it’s one we hope to see continue through season 6 with Ray, who just may be the love of her life.

Alas, though, Williams tells Rotten Tomatoes it’s not all that simple. (Surprised?)

We caught up with Williams a few days before the season’s big premiere to get a taste of what’s to come and to see why she feels Girls has shifted today’s TV landscape.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Allison Williams in Girls (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

Benjamin Lindsay for Rotten Tomatoes: Going into this final season, how are things looking for Marnie? Is she still making music with Desi? How are things with Ray?
Allison Williams: So Marnie and Ray are trying to make it work. I think they both want it to work out, but Marnie is feeling a little claustrophobic about everything and is not the best communicator in terms of what she’s going through. So there’s a lot of that kind of classic Marnie talking-around something. And she’s trying to figure out what Marnie-and-Desi-the-band look like now that Marnie-and-Desi-the-couple are no more.

Alex Karpovsky, Allison Williams in Girls (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

RT: She definitely has a few balls in the air. Ray regards Marnie as the love of his life. Do you think that she’s capable of treating him right? Do you think they belong together?
Williams: I think it has more to do with how she treats herself. I don’t know that she’s ready to be treated well. I want her to feel worthy of love and commitment and respect, but I’m not sure she’s quite there yet because the self-love isn’t there yet. You know, I often feel like girls need to date the wrong person for a while — and guys, too—before they’re ready to be respected and loved adequately. So that’s kind of the phase that Marnie’s in. She’s having one last rebellion against her better angels.

RT: Dating aside, do you ever wish that she would just be single for a bit and be on her own?
Williams: I think that that’s a great idea. I just think that notion makes her a little nervous because she doesn’t feel like she knows who she is outside of the context of a relationship. But that would be so good for her. If I could prescribe her something, that’s what it would be.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Allison Williams in Girls (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

RT: Well, we’ll see what the rest of the season has in store then. Are you going to miss playing Marnie?
Williams: So much. It’s really hard to describe. I will miss knowing what’s going on in her life. I’ll miss getting to play her, which is really fun — even though it seems mostly cringe-y, it’s actually a blast. And I’ll miss just seeing her evolve, I guess. It sounds insane talking about it, but it’s going to be strange. I don’t yet know how to feel about it because it hasn’t happened, but it definitely hit me hard when we wrapped, and I expect it to hit me again when we never go back to filming.

RT: What do you think audiences can learn from Marnie’s journey these past few years?
Williams: I think that she’s really brave and she lives loudly, even when she doesn’t know it. And often, she makes big mistakes, but she doesn’t do anything small, which I cannot help but kind of respect because it’s a departure for me in a lot of ways. I also feel like I’ve learned a sense of carpe diem from her. She kind of just attacks life, and I try to take that from her as a useful piece of baggage to bring with me on my way. I have a lot of love for her. I totally get why she rubs people the wrong way and people are very willing to tell me all of their feelings about her. I will always have a soft spot for her, but I think that part of that is just because I have a very clear understanding of who she is and I know that at her best, she is incredibly supportive and loyal and loving, and at her worst, she’s the opposite of all of those things. But I don’t know anyone who only operates at her best, so she’s always felt really real and three-dimensional.

Allison Williams, Lena Dunham in Girls (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

RT: Right — everyone has their own contradictions. Do you think you’ll ever work with Lena Dunham again?
Williams: I would love to. I mean, she’s one of those people that, I’m sure the more I do in my career the more I will appreciate how talented she is and what a gift it was to work with her so early on in my career. But, I mean, it is a standing reality that when she calls, I will go. I will just do what is asked of me. I trust her so much — it would be impossible to do this work if I didn’t — and I’m very excited as a consumer to see what her attentions turn to next. I just love the world she creates, and I can’t wait to see more.

Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham in Girls (Mark Schafer/HBO)

RT: Do you think Girls has lived up to the sort of meta-promise to be “the voice of a generation”?
Williams: I think the second thing [Hannah] says where she says, “Or a voice of a generation,” is probably more — I think [Lena] is the voice of a group of people in our generation. I think it’s narrower than it is portrayed to be in the show, but I’m very comfortable saying that I think she’s been a very valuable voice of our generation. I understand that it is not a voice that represents everybody, but that was never her intention, and that line was of course delivered in kind of self-aware jest. I don’t know how content would be different without her, and I’m just glad that I don’t ever have to know how it would be.

Allison Williams in Girls (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

RT: But you do see an influence? Do you see a shift in the TV landscape after Girls?
Williams: I definitely do. I feel like I see shows where I have a feeling this pitch went like, “It’s Girls, but ‘blank.’” You know what I mean? And that is fantastic because that usually just means it’ll be really honest and not too aspirational. And that’s, like, maybe not total escapist entertainment, but at the very least, it will be valuable and relatable. I think we’re all just hoping to feel a little less isolated in our daily issues, and shows like Girls and Insecure definitely work towards that goal because you watch them and you think, “Oh, I’m so not alone. There are a bunch of other people going through what I’m going through.”

Girlsfinal season premieres Sunday, February 12 at 10 p.m. on HBO

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