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What made viewers passionately love — or hate — 'Girls'?

by John Horn and Monica Bushman | The Frame

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(L-R) Executive producer Jenni Konner, actress Zosia Mamet, actress Jemima Kirke, executive producer Judd Apatow, actress/creator/executive producer Lena Dunham, and actress Allison Williams at the 2012 New York premiere of HBO's "Girls" at the School of Visual Arts Theater in New York City. Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

The HBO series "Girls" comes to a close on April 16, after six much-talked-about seasons.

Lena Dunham created, wrote and co-starred in the show about four young women on the perpetual verge of adulthood. Dunham collaborated with executive producers Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow on "Girls," which, when it premiered back in 2012, launched what seemed like a million think pieces.

Variety TV critic Sonia Saraiya was one of those writers offering a frequent analysis of the show. And even though she counts herself as an admirer now, she says it took her pretty much all of the first season to really get on board with the series.

Saraiya's take on what it is about "Girls" that generates so much conversation is that Dunham is "very canny about what audiences will be surprised by, or moved by, or even provoked by."

"She's very interested in challenging our expectations about nudity, about women's bodies, about what we expect from a romantic sex scene on television," Saraiya says. "And as a result, I think the audience that watched it was compelled to say something. It was a show that pushed a lot of buttons."

What makes Saraiya excited for the final episode of the series is what she calls Dunham's cinematic sensibility. "She's very good at ending things. I think that's one of the major differences between TV and film. So her episodes that are closed-ended, that land in a specific place, are some of her most powerful."

With all the controversy and conversation that's surrounded the show over the years, whatever happens in the final episode is sure to get people talking.

To hear the full interview with Sonia Saraiya, click the blue player above.

The final episode of HBO's "Girls" airs on Sunday, April 16.

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