In a parallel universe, somewhere between here and the one in which Jennifer Aniston plays Monica instead of Rachel, exists a very different version of HBO’s Girls wherein Alison Williams does not play Marnie Michaels. Instead, Jenny Slate, the actress who starred in an irreverent abortion comedy, plays the series’ high-maintenance, type-A buzzkill.
Slate was a guest on Wednesday’s episode of the Las Culturistas podcast, and, while telling a story about the period after she was fired from Saturday Night Live, mentioned how close she came to landing the role that eventually went to Brian Williams’ daughter—who, in my opinion, was tailor-made for the part.
“At the time the show Girls was being cast, and I went in a bunch of times for the role of Marnie and thought maybe I’d get it,” she told the show’s hosts, Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers, who are also both funny, famous comedians.
Obviously, she didn’t land the role. And thank god! As wonderful and talented as Slate is, I absolutely cannot imagine anyone other than Williams playing the character who, while on a weekend getaway to the North Fork, threw a temper tantrum when a few more people showed up for dinner.
What would Slate’s Marnie have even looked like? Definitely a lot funnier, potentially a lot more self-aware—something like the #WokeCharlotte meme come to life—and overall, just way more likable. We did not need Marnie to be any of these things.
Of course, if you’re a paid actress, your job is to successfully embody whatever insane role you’re cast in. But Slate—who fucking nailed it as Mona-Lisa Saperstein, the spoiled, klepto and nymphomaniac whose described in Parks And Recreation as the “worst person in the world”—simply could not have convinced me that she genuinely believed performing a slow, a capella version of Ye’s “Stronger” at her ex-boyfriend’s company’s party was a good idea. Slate probably could have pulled it off, but Williams was literally born for that scene.
Slate did, of course, end up with a role in Season 1 of Girls: She played Tally Schifrin, Hannah Horvath’s nemesis from college who finds early success after writing a memoir about her boyfriend’s suicide—who Bowen described as “one of the Girls characters who has an amazing arc.”
Slate still went on to star in Obvious Child (the abortion comedy) and I Want You Back, Williams went on to star in Get Out and The Perfection, and Marnie still got her ass eaten out. All’s well that ends well.