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Five Things to Know About HBO's Angsty Girls

Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham, Zosia Mamet, Girls Mark Seliger/HBO

In HBO's pitch-perfect new comedy Girls, Generation Whine has finally found its voice.

You may not like hearing what Lena Dunham (the 25-year-old star, creator, writer, director and executive producer) and her quartet of privileged 20-nothings have to say—but you will be wildly entertained by this unique and provocative series.

Here are five things to know before you tune in to Sunday night's premiere…

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1. It Is Not Sex and the City: Girls does feature four female friends having lots of sex in the city (make that three—one is still a virgin), and Hannah (Dunham), like Carrie Bradshaw, is a writer. But although she considers herself the voice of her generation—"or a voice of a generation"—Hannah is an unpaid intern relying entirely on the financial support of her frustrated parents. It's difficult to sympathize with Hannah's self-entitled outrage when her folks cut her off and she has to find a job. (Her lackadaisical attempts aren't helped by her self-sabotaging rape jokes during an interview.) Also unlike Bradshaw & Co., Hannah and her friends are much younger and poorer, and even if they could afford Manolos the shoes would clash shockingly with their ill-fitting/vintage/preppy/bohemian wardrobes. And instead of Cosmopolitans, these Brooklyn besties are downing opium tea (it's legal!) and cheap wine.

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2. But There Is Lots of Sex and Lots of City (via Brooklyn): Sex in Girls isn't glamorous or even sexy. It's messy (Jessa, who thinks she's pregnant, waves her bloody fingers triumphantly when she gets her period during a random sexual encounter in a bar's bathroom), clumsy (Hannah's joyless sex with her kinky-wannabe "boyfriend" is almost unbearable to watch) and complicated by abortion, STDs and Hannah's AIDS obsession. On Girls, Sex and the City's Mr. Big would be played by Hannah, whom her now-out-and-proud college boyfriend said he dated because she is "handsome."

3. It's Not 2 Broke Girls Either: Two girls are broke, but this half-hour comedy is nothing like the raunchy sitcom and canned jokes. Like the works of Dunham's co-EP Judd Apatow, Girls is hilarious because it's real. And like Ricky Gervais' original mockumentary The Office, when you're not laughing at Dunham's brilliant, wry dialogue, you're squirming in your seat with discomfort at the characters' raw  vulnerability, impossible cynicism and too-close-to-home circumstances.

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4. Casting Couch? Try Futon: Aside from their obvious talent, the cast of Girls (women and men) are both extraordinary and ordinary. The average-looking and overweight actors brazenly bare their imperfect bodies (and souls) in graphic sex scenes, lounging in the bathtub and spread-eagled on the gynecologist's table. The cast is a far cry from Gossip Girl's "Manhattan elite"—or any other CW hotties.

5. Family Matters: Although the female quartet are maybe most unfamiliar faces to us (Mad Men fans might recognize Mamet as Peggy's lesbian hipster BFF Joyce, a Life photo editor who works in a nearby office), their careers—like Hannah's frustrated parents—no doubt got an assist from their famous parents. Mamet's father is award-winning playwright David Mamet; Williams is the daughter of the NBC anchor Brian Williams; Kirke's father is a drummer for Bad Company; and Dunham's parents are renowned  artists whose works reside in museums like MOMA and the Whitney.

Girls premieres Sunday night on HBO.

Are you watching Girls? Share your reactions in the comments!

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