David Liebig

HBO’s “Girls” was perhaps one of the most discussed television series last year. Now the hip “dramedy” is back: The show’s sophomore season premiered on Sunday with an episode that opened doors to fresh developments and new conflicts.

“Girls” portrays four 20-something females’ tumultuous post-college lives in New York City. The show’s writer, director and lead actress Lena Dunham, whose self-inspired character Hannah Horvath wears her own awkwardness like a kind of superhero cape, met both high praise and sharp criticism for the initial 10-episode season.

A Huffington Post critic dubbed the show authentic and original. However, women’s interest blog Jezebel was one of many outlets to point a finger at the cast’s lack of diversity.

Season two, episode one seems to function as a promise to expand on the show’s triumphs while reconciling with past shortcomings.

1. Hannah seems happier

For a series that was originally built on the misfortunes of its main character (the first season opens with Horvath’s parents telling her she is monetarily cut off), “Girls” seems to be entering new territory with Horvath’s nearly constant bounciness throughout the second season’s first 30 minutes.

The brilliance of Dunham’s semi-autobiographical character lies in her stark humanness. The well-meaning millennial wins the audience’s affection by resembling (in manner and form) a person one might actually know, rather than some Hollywood construction of perfection. Viewers learn to root for Hovarth as the perpetually defeated underdog of season one.

Horvath’s elevated attitude, relatively stable social life and new love (or at least love-making) interest might not equate that underdog winning the World Series, but at least these things indicate she had a good run at the playoffs since the first season finale.

2. Donald Glover

In what might be a brashly obvious rebuttal to the aforementioned critiques of the show’s cultural monotony, African American writer-turned-actor-turned-comedian-turned-rapper Donald Glover makes his “Girls” debut as Horvath’s new friend with benefits within the first three minutes of season two. Glover is no stranger to television — his high-profile career began as a writer for NBC’s “30 Rock” and progressed to include the role of Troy Barnes on the same network’s “Community.”

As if to prove there is no form of show business he can’t handle, Glover signed a deal with Glassnote Records in 2011 and released his first bona fide album under the rap moniker Childish Gambino later that year.

As Sandy on “Girls,” Glover assumes a degree of the charming boyishness that defines his character on “Community” — one could easily imagine Barnes running through the aisles of a bookstore shouting about boners the way Glover does in this new role.

3. Shoshanna gets fierce

After being wronged by a guy, Horvath’s friend Shoshanna Shapiro — easily the most adorable character on the show — decides she is going to put her “big girl pants on” and give Ray Ploshansky (the wrongee) the cold shoulder she thinks he deserves.

Unfortunately for Shapiro, this newly acquired sassiness proves to be about as intimidating as a spiked collar on a chihuahua. Her quirky brand of vindictiveness has her spewing hilarious one-liners practically prepackaged for Twitter.

4. Two Golden Globes

If you don’t want to take my word for it, check the results of Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards. You’ll find that Dunham took home trophies for Best Television Series (Comedy or Musical) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical).

“This award is for every woman who’s ever felt like there wasn’t a space for her,” Dunham said after accepting her best actress award.

“Girls” has also been nominated for multiple Emmys, Critics Choice Awards, Writer’s Guild of America Awards and other honors. Last year, the show won an Emmy for its casting.

“Girls” airs Sundays at 9 p.m.

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