When 'Girls' are cast as boys*
Lena Dunham: Allison! Hi! You know what — let’s kiss on both cheeks in case there’s any photographers around. That will help them with their headline “Lena Dunham goes Euro.” I really do try to think up headlines for them. I just can’t help it. It’s just what my mind does! Anyway. I wanted to have coffee with you because I wanted to tell you how totally excited I am for you that you’re going to be in Peter Pan Live on NBC. I mean, wow. What an opportunity. Why are you looking at me like that?
Allison Williams: I am suspicious of this meeting.
LD: Really? You are? God! How fascinating. Why?
AW: Well, I feel like Le Pain Quotidien is such the place that you, like, meet someone if you want to make it look your intentions are neutral and benign but they’re really sinister.
LD: Allison! That makes me feel terrible. I mean, it theoretically makes me feel terrible. It is the kind of thing that someone would feel terrible about if they felt terrible about things. Although I am still open to feeling terrible if in fact whatever you’re suspicious of is something that ends up happening. Anyway. Did you think it was weird that one of the producers described you as having a boyish vulnerability?
AW: Not really. I mean, I have a kind of a square jaw and maybe, like, a boyish glint in my eye?
LD: I guess. I thought it was so creepy. I mean. This isn’t against you. But I feel like the kind of guy who says stuff like that is the kind of guy who goes on vacation to Thailand, alone. You know what I mean?
AW: Look. I know you said this isn’t against me, but when you say things like “the producers who are responsible for the show you’re about to do are probably into underage sex vacations,” that is hurtful. And. Not everyone can write a book for a couple million dollars and have their own show. I’m very exited about playing Peter Pan. I have been wanting to play Peter Pan since I was three years old…
LD: Oh my God, I got it. I got it. Talking to you right now I totally know where I want to go for season four! I mean, I seriously, honestly, came here just to congratulate you, but now, I mean, I really know what direction I want to take …
AW: You’re not firing me are you? Le Pan Quotidien is so exactly where you fire someone.
LD: I’m not firing you. But you’re right. This would be a good place to fire someone! But listen, listen, listen. Oh my God, I love this so much. Wouldn’t it be cool next season if maybe Marnie was in… I don’t know, a made-for-television Broadway play. Like — wait. Oh my God. Jersey Boys. Listen. Oh, this is so great. Some weird female director – like, Julie Taymor decides to do Jersey Boys, but women playing all the guy’s parts, and Julie Taymor sees Marnie at a party at that gallery, and she’s like, “Oh you have such great boyish energy” and she casts Marnie … And it’s supposed to be this big thing, so interesting and avant garde, and it ends up being a huge flop. And then…
AW: If you think Le Pan Quotidien is a good place to tell someone you’re going to insert them in a story line where they play one of the male leads in an all-female, live television broadcast of Jersey Boys, directed by Julie Taymor, that ends up being a flop, it is not.
LD: Wait, wait, wait. I didn’t even get to the best part: In the last episode it’s revealed that the novel that Hannah’s been struggling with all season that she won’t tell anyone the plot to is actually a roman-a-clef about Marnie’s horrible experience.
AW: But that makes me look like such a loser.
LD: I don’t understand.
AW: Well it makes it look like my career, not just, you know, Marnie’s career, but my career, is a joke.
LD: Would it make you feel better if the novel Hannah writes is really, really bad and no one will publish it?
AW: Slightly better. Can Marnie sing My Boyfriend’s Back?
LD: Of course.
AW: And can the reviews say that’s a highpoint of the show?
LD: Absolutely. Oh, but your character also has to become best friends with Carrie Underwood, because she was in the The Sound Of Music, and kinda got crap for it, and she’s the only one who can understand Marnie’s pain.
AW: I don’t know about that. That makes Marnie seem really – I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like Marnie, to be friends with someone who says “mean people need Jesus.”
LD: Well, it’s kind of too late, because I already talked to Carrie Underwood and she wants to do it, so…
AW: Wait a minute. You acted like you just came up with this story line while we were sitting here. But you actually came here knowing that you were going to tell me this.
LD: Ok, remember I said I was open to feeling terrible? I feel terrible. And I will totally have a scene where Carrie Underwood finds the MS of my novel and tells me that it sucks. Ok? Plus, you agreed to come to Le Pan Quotidien. What did you think was going to happen?
*At least this is how such a conversation might go in Sarah Miller’s imagination. She also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels,Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.