TORONTO – “Girls” executive producer Judd Apatow says he thinks a graphic sex scene in Sunday’s episode of the HBO series is drawing such strong reactions from critics because it deals with complicated emotions that aren’t often explored on TV.
In the instalment of the Golden Globe-winning dramedy, about a group of 20-somethings in New York City, recovering alcoholic Adam (Adam Driver) has a dark sexual encounter with his girlfriend.
The incident is one of several cringe-inducing moments in the episode, which also sees budding writer Hannah (series creator, director, producer and writer Lena Dunham) grappling with her deteriorating mental state.
“Girls” is known for its frank and unvarnished portrayal of the characters’ lives and often elicits passionate reactions from viewers.
But Sunday’s — entitled “On All Fours” — seems to be particularly polarizing.
An article posted Monday on The Hollywood Reporter website, for instance, read: “Girls’: Did Lena Dunham Go Too Far?”
Meanwhile, a laudatory article on Variety’s site declared: “HBO’s ‘Girls’ is Defiant in the Best of Ways.”
“There’s complicated emotions and we’re talking about people trying to make connections, and sexuality, and things that go right and wrong in sexuality,” Apatow said Tuesday in a telephone interview to promote next week’s DVD/Blu-ray release of his comedy film “This is 40.”
“There’s a deep exploration of serious mental issues that Hannah’s having, and I think it’s a really fascinating storyline we’re following that forces people to think about a lot of issues much deeper than they usually have to think about … when they’re watching escapist entertainment.”
Apatow added he’s “very proud” of what Dunham has done with the show, which wraps its second season on Sunday with an episode the two wrote together.
“I think the finale is fantastic,” he said. “I’m excited for people to see the conclusion of this story she’s telling.
“And some of it is shocking but you know, life is shocking, so we’re just showing certain corners of life that people don’t explore too often.”
HBO Canada also airs “Girls,” which has been renewed for a third season.
Apatow said he finds some criticisms of the series “inherently sexist.”
“You don’t have to be that deep a thinker to understand that when a young, strong woman who’s comfortable with her sexuality presents her world view with confidence, it throws people,” he said.
“But that’s fine. I think all these debates is one of the great purposes of the show. It’s making people think about all different aspects of entertainment and feminism and sexuality and what’s happening with young people today.
“So to me, it’s all fantastic. I like that people brawl about it.”
“This is 40″ is out on DVD/Blu-ray on March 22.