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In Defense of Allison Williams as Peter Pan

Let me start by admitting something that I’m not proud of.

When I first learned that Allison Williams had been cast as Peter Pan in NBC’s Peter Pan Live, I was gleeful. I absolutely could not wait to sit down in front of the television—with a platter of sad tacos—and savor the schadenfreude of seeing Marnie from Girls unleash her theater-geekdom on national television. And apparently, I’m not alone. Not everyone is happy about this news. Some have blamed the casting on nepotism. Critics like to suggest that Williams and other Girls stars are only successful because of their celebrity parents. (Williams’ dad is NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, though I’d challenge anyone to explain exactly how having visual artists for parents has helped Lena Dunham.) So the idea that Daddy might’ve sprinkled some pixie dust on the casting directors until they planted that feather in Allison’s little green hat won’t do anything to silence that argument.

Others claim that Williams’ voice is strained, judging by her many awkward performances on Girls. (I couldn’t find YouTube links to her versions of “Take Me Or Leave Me” or “Building a Mystery,” but they’re out there somewhere.) Williams, though, claims that these scenes were just good acting. “I made the choice pretty early on, just in terms of maintaining my own sanity, to not try to make Marnie a very studied, exacting singer. Or trained, really,” she told EW earlier this year. “And I’m someone who took voice lessons for many, many years, so in making that decision, it sort of took the pressure off of me to sing perfectly.”

You don’t have to believe her, but I do. It’s obvious that she’s capable of singing beautifully when she wants to. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I started to question my own knee-jerk reaction. First of all, the casting is kind of genius. Williams is best known for a show about young people who won’t grow up. Marnie and her friends are so obviously the Peter Pans of their own private Hipsturbia that they even wear actual Peter Pan collars sometimes. Also, Pan plays with gender roles in a way similar to Girls. HBO’s comedy shows that women can be just as stunted as the man-children in Judd Apatow’s movies. But in J.M. Barrie’s original book, Peter Pan, Or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, it’s only the guys who get to act like kids forever: The Lost Boys even demand that Wendy act like their mother, tucking them into bed at night. So it feels appropriate that a Girls star is the one following in the musical’s tradition of casting a woman to play Pan.

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Let's cast everyone from 'Girls' in NBC's 'Peter Pan'

That collective “whaaaaa?!” you heard around 9:40 a.m. this morning was the sound of the internet learning that NBC had cast Girls star Allison Williams as the title role in its upcoming production of Peter Pan Live.

On its surface, the decision seems, well, kind of bizarre. Think about it for a minute, though, and you may get where NBC is coming from: Williams is a practiced, experienced singer, and she’s also long harbored dreams of voicing a Disney character someday. (This Pan musical is different from Disney’s animated take, but it’s just as much of a family-friendly classic.) She’s also got the wide-eyed, gamine quality of a young Mary Martin or Cathy Rigby, the two actresses who have most famously played this version of Pan in the past.

That said: For anyone who watches Girls, it’s going to be pretty tough to get over the cognitive dissonance of watching judgmental, aimless Marnie flitting around in tights, belting about how she’s gotta crow. Which is why we should take this opportunity to imagine an even weirder parallel universe in which a) the characters on Girls are real and b) they’ve all been cast in a live TV production of Peter Pan. Here’s who’d be playing who. (Since he joined the production before Williams did, this cast list assumes that Christopher Walken is still on board as Captain Hook—even though I’m sure we’re all yearning to see Brian Williams take over the part now.) READ FULL STORY

HBO Go ads explain why you don't want to watch HBO with your parents -- VIDEO

Well played, HBO.

HBO has released a series of ads for its streaming service, and the whole set of spots attempt to drive home one message: For a lot of HBO programming, it’s really nice not to have to watch it with your parents. From the sex scenes on True Blood, to the sex scenes on Game of Thrones, to the sex scenes… well, basically, HBO has a lot of steamy programming. And if you want to continue to pretend that your parents aren’t also watching these shows, that’s your right. HBO is looking out for you.

Each of the seven ads — featuring different HBO shows — end the same way after a TMI encounter:  “Might be a good time for HBO Go,” voiceover suggests. “HBO Go. The best of HBO on all your favorite devices. Far, far away from your parents.”

Check out a dad attempting to give some advice to his daughter during a cringe-worthy Adam/Hannah Girls sex scene below — and be thankful that you haven’t been there.(Right?) READ FULL STORY

'The Good Wife,' 'New Girl' and the hollow gamesmanship of TV 'game-changers'

It’s been a bad week to be a ‘shipper. Last Sunday, The Good Wife killed off legal eagle Will Gardner (Josh Charles), gunning down the dreams of fans who’ve hoped that the series would reunite Will with Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies). That same night, Girls drove a wedge between Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver): In a development as out-of-the-blue as the bullets that claimed Will’s life, Hannah was accepted into the University of Iowa’s prestigious writers’ workshop, then mishandled the communication of the news with Adam, who used the occasion to break up with her after a season of growing doubt about their relationship. A couple days later, another pair of scrappy-scruffy love birds surrendered to anxieties about their union when New Girl‘s Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) decided to decouple and revert back to just-friendship. All this, and Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin called it quits, too. It’s all very sad and Phil Collinsy.

With the three television shows, ‘ship death (and just plain death) brings creative opportunity (albeit not before an obligatory grief ep or two). As Mark Harris observes, Will’s death should seed “dramatic possibility” for several characters, notably Alicia and Diane (Christine Baranski). Season 4 of Girls (due next year) could feel like a markedly different show — one with new characters, conflicts, and of course setting — if Hannah follows through and relocates to Iowa. And New Girl – struggling since the sitcom put Jess and Nick together — has a chance to win us over anew by basically reverting to its original settings.

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TV Recaps: 'The Good Wife,' 'The Walking Dead,' and 'Girls' -- VIDEO

See what you missed on last night’s episodes of The Good Wife, The Walking Dead, and Girls with our TV recaps below!

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TV Recaps: 'The Walking Dead,' 'The Good Wife,' and 'Girls' -- VIDEO

Watch our TV recaps below to see what you missed on last night’s episodes of The Walking Dead, The Good Wife, and Girls!

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Lena Dunham talks boyfriend and leaving acting -- maybe -- in 'Glamour' cover story

Lena Dunham is everywhere. She hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend, she’s working on a series of Archie Comics, she was on the much-talked about cover of Vogue last month — and now, she’s gracing the cover of the latest Glamour. In the accompanying story, Dunham chats about her boyfriend (fun.’s Jack Antonoff), how she chose the cast of Girls, and her future as an actress. Check out some highlights from the story below:

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'SNL' recap: Lena Dunham is just a girl, standing in front of an audience, asking them to like her

So, how did Lena Dunham do in her inaugural episode of Saturday Night Live? It depends who you’re asking.

Those who are generally into Dunham’s work were probably amused on the whole, even if they also wished Lena had broken out of her comfort zone a little more. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dunham played a bunch of girls — immature, fast-talking, hyperbole-happy variations on her HBO persona — and one serviceable Liza Minnelli.) But if you’re one of those people who can’t stand cable’s wunderkind — here I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that dislike has nothing to do with Dunham’s looks — your feelings likely weren’t swayed by Lena’s SNL performance, since it hewed so closely to what she does weekly on Girls.

Since I’m in the former camp, I’ll give the episode a tempered thumbs up. While SNL‘s writers’ room is clearly still suffering from growing pains in the wake of Seth Meyers’s exit — someone has to, like, remind them that sketches are supposed to have jokes — last night’s show was, pound for pound, stronger than March 1’s Jim Parsons Experience. And it packed in a few  solid laughs, particularly in the night’s…

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Lena Dunham hosts 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend: Talk about it here!

Girls is smart, well-made, thought-provoking, and very entertaining — provided you’re in the right mindset and/or have a high tolerance for watching selfish people go about their lives. That said, Lena Dunham’s adventure in auteurism isn’t exactly a laugh-out-loud sort of show — and really never has been, barring a few notable exceptions (Shoshanna on crack; Hannah and Elijah on coke; suddenly I’m sensing a pattern). I like to describe Broad City as “Girls, but funny” — which is probably why I like Broad City a whole lot more than I like Girls.

Despite all this, I’ve still got high hopes for Lena Dunham’s first episode as host of Saturday Night Live. Why? Because while Girls isn’t funny, Dunham herself is; I’ve got no doubt that when she decides to make a pure comedy, she’ll end up creating something great. And perhaps more importantly, Dunham is an experienced writer with a fully developed voice, which is just what SNL needs right now.

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