In an effort to help ensure journalists have plenty of content to fuel future articles expressing outrage, disappointment or defense of Lena Dunham, HBO has ordered another round of her critically-acclaimed series Girls, along with a second season of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' political comedy Veep, just to level out the controversy a bit.
Dunham's Girls is currently riding the post-backlash wave that followed the substantial hype leading up to the series premiere on April 15. Though it was met with mostly positive reviews, the show, its creator and HBO were also handed a series of accusations claiming racism and nepotism in the casting of Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke and Zosia Mamet (all caucasian daughters of famous people). Naturally, this being the Internet, those accusations incited a wave of retorts in defense of Dunham, her cast and her program. The result was a few days of the media covering the media, with all of it leading back to HBO and Girls. If the old saying of "there is no such thing as bad publicity" still holds true, then Girls is certainly doing pretty well.
Ratings-wise, Girls garnered 872,000 viewers for its premiere, but has since managed to rake in 3.8 million viewers after encore airings and on demand/DVR viewings were tallied.
Meanwhile, amid all the controversy and backtalk surrounding Girls, HBO's other new comedy, Veep, from The Thick of It and In the Loop writer/director Armando Iannucci, quietly premiered and earned 1.4 million viewers – the network's highest ratings for a comedy since the Entourage finale last September. The series, which pokes fun at the aimlessness of the vice presidential position and the petty squabbles that arise from those desperately trying to achieve some level of power and influence in government, enjoyed critical praise along with its ratings success.
Moving forward, given that both series have essentially hit their mark, HBO has extended the run of Girls and Veep for their second seasons to 10 episodes each.
This is certainly good news for HBO, which has lately not drawn the audience it once did with its comedies. While the third season of Eastbound & Down performed reasonably well, the network canceled three of its comedies, How to Make it in America, Bored to Death and Hung late last year, after the typically highly-rated programs saw their numbers plummet to well below a million viewers per episode. The cancellations came as a bit of a surprise, given the presence of well-known actors like Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis and Thomas Jane. Perhaps even more surprising was HBO's decision not to cut the Laura Dern-led Enlightened, which premiered to numbers well below those of the now-cancelled comedies.
Nevertheless, the success of Veep and Girls is a bright spot for the network, and with Game of Thrones acting as a lead in until June 3, it seems likely that the numbers for both comedies will manage to keep HBO happy.
Girls and Veep can be seen Sunday nights on HBO starting @10pm.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter