TV & Movies

9 Years Ago, Jenna Lyons Was One Of Girls’ Most Underrated Guest Stars

Time for a rewatch!

Lena Dunham on 'Girls.' Screenshot via Max

Throughout its six seasons, Girls welcomed countless guest stars into its fictional corner of New York City: Patrick Wilson as Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) dreamy doctor fling, Jenny Slate as her college frenemy, Riz Ahmed as her good-vibes-only surf instructor (who turned out to be the show’s most fateful hookup). But one celebrity visitor on Girls is not talked about nearly enough: Jenna Lyons as Hannah’s GQ boss, Janice.

With the former J.Crew president and creative director strutting onto screens once again with Bravo’s rebooted Real Housewives of New York City, now is the perfect time to revisit her 2014 Girls arc — which was actually her acting debut. The gig came about after she befriended Lena Dunham at a Glamour event, Lyons told The Cut in 2014.

To recap: Hannah’s GQ stint begins in the Season 3 episode, “Free Snacks.” She tells Ray she has to quit the coffee shop because she’s scored an advertorial writing job at the magazine, after they “saw one of [her] pieces online.” (Yes, just one!!) She’s quickly befriended by some of her new co-workers, who are amazing guest stars in their own right: Jessica Williams and a pre-Mrs. Maisel Michael Zegen. Her boss Janice is a little more brusque, but the fact that she legitimately likes Hannah’s ideas makes their dynamic that much sweeter.


But Hannah soon worries that her new corporate job (even with all its perks and, uh, money) might interfere with her ability to be a “writer writer.” Fearing she’ll never be fulfilled with GQ’s Neiman Marcus-sponsored column, she goes to Janice’s office to say she doesn’t want to be there anymore — only to take it back seconds later, leading to an iconically unbothered line from Lyons:

“I’m putting copper pipes in my house. I really can’t deal with this right now,” Janice says, distracted. “You want to just email me and let me know if you still work here?”

As fun as Lyons’ moments are to watch, it seems they were just as enjoyable to make. “I can honestly say it was one of the most dynamic, creative, interesting, inspiring experiences I’ve ever had,” she told The Cut.

And despite having a relatively short turn on Girls (Hannah ultimately leaves the magazine for real a few episodes later), Lyons had a major impact on the show’s storyline. After all, many of Hannah’s career prospects up to this point were thwarted due to factors outside of her control: her inappropriate boss, her book editor who passed away unexpectedly. Janice, though, is so cool and composed (similar to Lyons herself) that she serves as a foil to Hannah’s ambivalence — forcing the Girls protagonist to look inward and make an active decision about the kind of writer she’d like to be.

In the long term, leaving pays off! But in the meantime, it’s hilarious to watch Hannah self-sabotage her way out of a gig she was actually quite good at — and to tell her chic, successful new boss that, No, I would actually hate to be you in 10 years.