Q. Lena Dunham, the show’s writer, has said that a lot of what’s in “Girls” comes directly from her life and the lives of other cast members —
A. Right, for instance the tattoos that Lena has, that she shows in the first episode, are all real. It was Jemima Kirke, who plays Jessa, who gave her the one on her butt and who has subsequently given her many more. And she has given them to Zosia [Mamet, the fourth lead actress on “Girls”].
Q. Not you yet?
A. I think I’m going to remain un-tatted.
Q. It’s not a rite of passage — an initiation into the show?
A. It’s not something I’m interested in. And, funnily enough, they encouraged me not to do it. They said, “It’s a slippery slope. Once you have one, you can’t stop.” It’s almost like they’re haggard and on the other side and telling me, “Don’t start, kid.”
Q. The media has hyped “Girls” a great deal to be ‘representative’ of young women, and it’s also received some criticism for being another show focusing on relatively well-off, white, metropolitan, heterosexual women. How do you feel about these sorts of expectations and comments?
A. I think the media often wants a TV show to ‘say something’ broad. But I think one of the nice things about the show is that it is very specific — it’s specifically Lena [Dunham]’s experiences, summed up. Rather than forming a thesis, it’s showing a number of different lives and alternatives. That makes it broader as a show, because it’s not looking to take a stand and then alienating people. I know, personally, it’s much easier for me to enjoy and ingest something if I know it isn’t trying to argue a point, at least not consciously. If the show makes you laugh, awesome. If it makes you feel angry, great. If you see yourself in it, or if it makes you feel less alone, great.
Q. “Girls” is written for women, by women. What do you think or hope that men will take away from it?
A. I’ve been surprised that more people haven’t asked this question, because it feels like a great one. A lot of the people who have seen the show so far are men. The male executives at HBO have seen it, and they are responding to it. It may be because there are nooks and crannies of female friendships that they didn’t know about. There are many men out there who watched all of “Sex and the City.” They will admit it under cover of darkness, but if you make a reference — you say “Smith,” and they know what you’re talking about — you can call them out on it, and I think that’s great.
[Williams’s HBO entourage and mother, who are waiting patiently while Allison gives WEEKEND this interview, politely make noises indicating Allison has to go soon. Allison insists she can answer another few questions.]
Q. Are you sure? If you have to get back to New York …
A. It’s fine. I’m going rogue.
A. This is my Palin moment.
Q. On “Sex and the City,” there were characters who were “sex-positive” — who would have sex for sex’s sake. At least in the first episode, the sex shown on “Girls” is uncomfortable. Do any of the characters on “Girls” have a good, exclusively physical relationship?
A. Yes. Some of the characters do, some don’t. Each of the characters has a different sensibility with regards to sex.
Q. “Girls” has already generated articles and opinion pieces in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and New York Magazine. What do you hope the social impact of the show will be, if anything?
A. I hope it gets groups of people watching it together — friends of all genders, ages, and backgrounds in a room. I think so much of the digital age, and the way we live and absorb media and culture today, is so individualized. It happens alone and in front of a laptop. The great thing about television is it’s one of the few forms of media left that people can sit down, watch together and then discuss. I hope the show creates discussion, and I hope there are girls out there who see themselves in us.