For two people making a show called “Camping,” Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner sure hate the outdoors.
“It was not well thought out,” deadpans Konner, returning to HBO after the pair co-created “Girls.” “We loved writing the show, and then we were like, ‘Oh, this really means we need to be in the dirt all day, every day.’ “
Their aversion to nature was particularly amusing to series star Jennifer Garner, who “didn’t realize how outdoorsy I was until I was (on set) with Jenni and Lena, who felt punished every day we had to be outside,” she recalls. Meanwhile, co-star David Tennant and Garner “thought it was the biggest gift. Every day, all we could do was be like, ‘Look at that oak tree! Look at that sunrise!’ ”
If only Garner’s “Camping” character shared her serene outlook. In the acerbic new comedy (Sunday, 10 EDT/PDT), the “Alias” actress makes her small-screen comeback as Kathryn McSorley-Jodell, a high-strung mom who invites her friends on a camping trip to celebrate her husband Walt’s (Tennant) birthday.
Equipped with binders of meticulously organized activity schedules, Kathryn imperiously attempts a picture-perfect getaway but instead makes her young son (Duncan Joiner) and fellow couples miserable. Among them: a randy reiki healer (Juliette Lewis), an oafish recovering addict (Joe Sullivan, “This Is Us”) and Kathryn’s dim younger sister (Ione Skye), who drink and have sex in irreverent rebellion.
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“Camping” is based on a 2016 British series, which also revolved around unpleasant people working through relationship issues in the claustrophobic setting of a camping trip. It’s a natural follow-up to “Girls,” which ended its six-season run last year, in that both also mine toxic female friendships for uncomfortable laughs.
Through Kathryn and her estranged best friend Nina-Joy (Janicza Bravo), “we hoped to explore how women can be really cruel to each other, even though we believe deeply in female friendships being the core of our lives,” Konner says. “One of the central questions of this is, ‘What happens when you get a group of people together and you can’t just walk away from the friend who is annoying you and not call them for three days?’ “
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