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Arfin later deleted the comment following the uproar.

Some of the struggles facing Dunham's character Hannah—including being cut off financially from her parents, becoming a writer and making unfortunate decisions—are inspired by Dunham's real-life experiences.Dunham said Girls reflects a part of the population not portrayed in the 1998 HBO series Sex and the City.The pilot intentionally references Sex and the City as producers wanted to make it clear that the driving force behind Girls is that the characters were inspired by the former HBO series and moved to New York to pursue their dreams.Season one was filmed between April and August 2011 and consisted of 10 episodes.Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter called Girls "one of the most original, spot-on, no-missed-steps series in recent memory".

Reviewing the first three episodes at the 2012 SXSW Festival, he said the series conveys "real female friendships, the angst of emerging adulthood, nuanced relationships, sexuality, self-esteem, body image, intimacy in a tech-savvy world that promotes distance, the bloodlust of surviving New York on very little money and the modern parenting of entitled children, among many other things—all laced together with humor and poignancy".

"Gossip Girl was teens duking it out on the Upper East Side and Sex and the City was women who [had] figured out work and friends and now want to nail romance and family life.

There was this 'hole-in-between' space that hadn't really been addressed," she said.

The New York Times also applauded the series and said: "Girls may be the millennial generation's rebuttal to Sex and the City, but the first season was at times as cruelly insightful and bleakly funny as Louie on FX or Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO." Despite many positive reviews, several critics criticized the characters themselves.

Gawker's John Cook strongly criticised Girls, saying it was "a television program about the children of wealthy famous people and shitty music and Facebook and how hard it is to know who you are and Thought Catalog and sexually transmitted diseases and the exhaustion of ceaselessly dramatizing your own life while posing as someone who understands the fundamental emptiness and narcissism of that very self-dramatization." Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter stated that "Girls kicks off its second season even more assured of itself, able to deftly work strands of hard-earned drama into the free-flowing comedic moments of four postcollege girls trying to find their way in life".

The second season ran on HBO from January 13, 2013 to March 17, 2013.