<p>Lena Dunham directing a scene in the &quot;Girls&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Lena Dunham directing a scene in the "Girls" season finale.

Credit: HBO

'Girls' producers Lena Dunham & Jenni Konner talk finale, backlash, Judd Apatow and more

What did they learn making season 1 of the HBO comedy? And how do they feel about James Franco, TV critic?
Even by the standards of a national approach to popular culture where we build people up quickly only to tear them down just as quickly, the roller coaster of good and bad hype for Lena Dunham and "Girls" was pretty extreme. Before the show premiere, TV critics were falling over themselves to come up with new superlatives for it. (Mine was "it may, in fact, be the best new HBO comedy since 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'") Almost immediately after it debuted, there was a backlash to the show (and to the reviews), then a backlash to the backlash, a backlash to the backlash to the backlash, etc.
 
The praise and pans kept flying back and forth, back and forth, and all the while Dunham and showrunning partner Jenni Konner just kept working on the show, first finishing up the 10 episodes of season 1, then seguing almost immediately to production on season 2. And because the two of them in general — and Dunham in particular, who co-writes every episode, stars in all of them and directs many of them — are so busy making "Girls," they were able to exist in a bubble about the feedback — but only to a point. Dunahm says she tries to do "half press avoidance," but can only avoid so much — especially since her mother likes to forward her press clippings.
 
So when I sat down with Dunham and Konner for a bookend to the interview we did before the season, it was in the context of me having seen the entire first season (here's my review of the season finale), and of them being aware of most, if not all, of the good and bad things people had been saying about it. Over a long lunch — I should warn you, this transcript clocks in at close to 9,000 words, so I've broken it up into sections for those who want to read it piecemeal — we talked about the reaction to the series, about the ways the show and their working relationship evolved, lessons learned that will be applied to season 2, Dunham's weight loss (thanks to better eating habits and a daily spin class, she's noticeably slimmer than when the first season was filmed), and more, all coming up just as soon as I'm wearing two plaids...
 
UPDATE: It turned out this interview may have been the point at which word limits actually do matter on the Internet, as it keeps being cut off before the end. So I'm splitting it up into two parts, with the first three sections down below, and the next two here. Sorry for the confusion.
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<p>Edie Falco and Bobby Cannavale in &quot;Nurse Jackie.&quot;</p>

Edie Falco and Bobby Cannavale in "Nurse Jackie."

Credit: Showtime

Season finale review: 'Nurse Jackie' - 'Handle Your Scandal'

A consequence-heavy season comes to a strong conclusion

A review of the "Nurse Jackie" season finale coming up just as soon as security comes to escort me from the building...

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<p>Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif) and Johnny (Sean Bridgers) in &quot;Deadwood.&quot;</p>

Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif) and Johnny (Sean Bridgers) in "Deadwood."

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 2, Episode 4: 'Requiem for a Gleet' (Veterans edition)

Al's health worsens while Wolcott's power base strengthens

We're into week 2 of our summer trip back through David Milch's epic revisionist Western "Deadwood." As always with this project, we're going to have two parallel discussions going at once: identical reviews, but one where the comments section is just for people who are new to the series and don't want to be spoiled on anything past the events of the episode being discussed, and one for people who know "Deadwood" backwards and forwards, and want to be able to discuss it all at once. This is the veteran-friendly version; click here for the newbie-safe one.

A review of episode 4, "Requiem for a Gleet," coming up just as soon as I have a Nubian genie at my disposal...

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<p>Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif)&nbsp;and Johnny (Sean Bridgers)&nbsp;in &quot;Deadwood.&quot;</p>

Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif) and Johnny (Sean Bridgers) in "Deadwood."

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 2, Episode 4: 'Requieum for a Gleet' (Newbies edition)

Al's health worsens while Wolcott's power base strengthens

We're into week 2 of our summer trip back through David Milch's epic revisionist Western "Deadwood." As always with this project, we're going to have two parallel discussions going at once: identical reviews, but one where the comments section is just for people who are new to the series and don't want to be spoiled on anything past the events of the episode being discussed, and one for people who know "Deadwood" backwards and forwards, and want to be able to discuss it all at once. This is the newbie-safe version; click here for the veteran-friendly one.

A review of episode 4, "Requiem for a Gleet," coming up just as soon as I have a Nubian genie at my disposal...

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<p>Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

If I had an Emmy ballot 2012: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

The women of 'Suburgatory,' 'Big Bang Theory,' 'Cougar Town' and more

Okay, it's part 2 of our look at the Emmy nominations process for 2012. As always, Fienberg and I are going to approach things in two ways. I'll pretend that I have an Emmy ballot and make my picks for the six actors or shows I would put on my ballot, while Dan will rank the potential nominees from most likely to least. And, as always, we are working off of the actual Emmy ballot, so we can't consider people who didn't submit themselves, nor can we reassign anyone to a more suitable or easier category.

Yesterday, we looked at the comedy supporting actors, so now it's time to make our picks for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. (Click here for Dan's predictions.)

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<p>Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen in &quot;Burn Notice.&quot;</p>

Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen in "Burn Notice."

Credit: USA

Season premiere review: 'Burn Notice' - 'Scorched Earth'

What did everybody think of Michael Westen and friends' return?

When "Burn Noticewrapped up its previous season back in December, I wrote that while I still enjoyed the show as a summer diversion, it had been telling the same kinds of stories for so long that I'd run out of new things to say about it, and had lot some emotional investment along the way. So unless this new season presents an unexpected masterpiece at some point, I'm going to be watching but not writing.

But since I got to see the season premiere in advance, I wanted to at least take the temperature of the room on where the show is right now. Many of you agreed with me on last season's finale — not that the show had gone awry, but that we'd seen it all before, many times. Did the seven months away rekindle your passion for Michael, Sam and Fi, or are you still feeling the same ennui I am? How did you feel about the way the Anson and Fiona stories played out in the premiere? Do you buy that Michael would be this reckless for the sake of Fi? Were you happy to see the return of an old face? How did you feel about the introductory narration finally including Jesse? 

Have at it, folks. Again, barring something special, I'll be back around mid-season finale time.

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<p>Bryan Cranston from &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Bryan Cranston from "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

Bryan Cranston to host the 2012 Television Critics Association Awards

'Breaking Bad' star is also up for a TCA Award

Last year, the Television Critics Association Awards were hosted by Ron Effing Swanson himself, Nick Offerman. So perhaps the only way to top that in terms of finding someone capable of making very dangerous things was to recruit Bryan Cranston from "Breaking Bad" to emcee this year's awards.

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<p>In my ideal world, Jim Rash from &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;would be up for an Emmy to go on the shelf next to his Oscar.</p>

In my ideal world, Jim Rash from "Community" would be up for an Emmy to go on the shelf next to his Oscar.

Credit: NBC

If I had an Emmy ballot 2012: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The men of 'Parks and Recreation' and 'Community' dominate the first stage of our annual exercise

It's Emmy nominating time once again, which means it's time for Fienberg and I to resume our annual tradition of predicting the people and shows we either wish will be nominated (me) or think will be (Dan). I pretend that I have an Emmy ballot and pick the six performers/shows per category that I'd be happiest to see nominated, while Dan runs down the contenders in each category, starting with the locks, then moving to the contenders and then the ridiculous longshots.

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<p>It was hard for &quot;Mad Men&quot;&nbsp;creator Matthew Weiner to have Peggy and Don split up.</p>

It was hard for "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner to have Peggy and Don split up.

Credit: AMC

'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner talks Peggy, Joan, sci-fi and more

How did moving into the late '60s change the series? And does he think the show's become unsubtle?
I loved the fifth season of "Mad Men" overall, but did not love the season finale, in part because I felt the show's creator Matthew Weiner spelled out the themes of the episode in less subtle fashion than usual.
 
So when Weiner was able to spare a few minutes this afternoon from the set of "You Are Here," his writing and directorial movie debut, among the things we discussed was whether or not he feels ths season has been more overt in its meaning than previous ones. We also talked about his reasons for writing Peggy out of the agency — if not necessarily off the show — how the show has changed as it's moved into the more famous half of the '60s, this season's obsession with science fiction, and more.
 
Given the limited amount of time we had, I tried not to rehash too much of the ground that was already covered in previous post-finale interviews Weiner gave to the New York Times and to Slate — both of them deal with Don's feelings about Megan, and about Weiner's belief that of course Joan would have accepted the indecent proposal in the Jaguar episode — and instead look at the finale, and the season, from other angles.
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<p>Yvonne Strahovski from &quot;Chuck&quot;&nbsp;will be guest-starring on &quot;Dexter.&quot;</p>

Yvonne Strahovski from "Chuck" will be guest-starring on "Dexter."

Credit: NBC

'Dexter' casts 'Chuck 'alum Yvonne Strahovski for season 7 guest arc

The former spy will go to work helping out Miami Metro in several episodes next season

Credit to Showtime for casting one of the few guest actors who might convince me to give "Dexter" another try, as they've just announced that "Chuck" alum Yvonne Strahovski will be doing a multi-episode story arc in the upcoming seventh season.

Strahovski will play Hannah McKay, whom the press notes describe as "a strong, independent woman with a past that she's struggled to put behind her." Miami Metro recruits Hannah to help solve some old cases, Dexter works alongside her, begins to wonder if there's more to her than meets the eye, etc., etc., etc. It's "Dexter." You know how this works.

That said, loyalty to "Chuck" and admiration for Strahovski's work — along with some other interesting guest stars like Ray Stevenson and Jason Gedrick — might lead me to give the show one more look when it returns on September 30.

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