Season 5 of Girls starts about six months after the "six months later" flash-forward at the end of last season. Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Fran (Jake Lacy) have been together for a little less than a year, Shoshannah (Zosia Mamet) has been living in Japan for seven months, and Ray's (Alex Karpovsky) coffee shop is struggling and he's getting no help from his new employee Elijah (Andrew Rannells). Marnie (Allison Williams) and Desi (Ebon Moss-Bacharach) have reconciled after he stood her up at an important showcase last season and are getting married. They're all inching closer to becoming grownups, but as always, it's one step forward, two steps back. This year is moving them closer to adulthood before the series ends next season.
It's still the same old Girls, but there are some situations and circumstances that viewers haven't seen before. Here are the ones you need to know going into Sunday's premiere.
1. Adam's around, but not Kylo Ren
Adam Driver was working on this season of Girls and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens at the same time, flying back and forth between New York and the set of the movie that was soon to become the biggest of all time. The feeling that their friend from their little show was about to become the next Darth Vader was present on the set of Girls, but not as much as you might think.
"Adam is one of the most professional actors in the world," says Girls executive producer Jenni Konner, and he went about his job like any other season. And also, he was sworn to secrecy about Star Wars and wouldn't divulge any information about it. "It's like being with someone in witness protection," Konner says.
But it couldn't be ignored, either. Adam the character's acting career is starting to take off this season in a thread that mirrors the actor on a much smaller scale. At one point, after seeing him appear as a guest star on a TV show, Jessa sings mockingly to him, "you're gonna be famous, you're gonna famous," a line Jemima Kirke improvised.
2. Jessa, of all people, is growing positively
Speaking of Jessa, she's doing great this season. She's in school studying to be a social worker and has been sober for about a year. She's actively trying to be a good person, which in her mind means doing the exact opposite of what old Jessa would have done. This, obviously, yields mixed results.
"She's too black and white about what makes a good person," Jemima Kirke says of Jessa's conflict this season. "A good person is someone who's a social worker and doesn't drink and saves people and doesn't hurt their friends," not accounting for what her life will throw at her.
But these are huge steps forward for someone who once ruined rehab for everyone, including her friends who weren't even there.
3. Elijah is finally getting his moment
After many seasons toiling as Hannah's gay best friend, Elijah is finally getting a romantic arc of his own. He gets involved with a powerful TV personality played by The Strain's Cory Stoll.
"That story shows Elijah in a really vulnerable place that we've never seen him in before," Konner says, "and Andrew's performance is really beautiful and really heartbreaking."
4. For the first time, there's gay sex
Elijah's storyline presented an opportunity for the show to put gay sex onscreen. Since gay romantic comedy Looking isn't on the air anymore, Girls had to step up and fill that void, Konner jokes.
"We show all the sex, so why would we stop there? We showed the parents having sex. There are no passes for anybody," Konnner says.
And heterosexual women Dunham and Konner went out of their way to make sure it's true-to-life.
"We had a lot of consultants in our writer's room clarifying stuff for us," Konner says. "We did our research."
5. It's the funniest season of Girls yet
Girls has always been a comedy, but it's rarely been laugh-out-loud funny. The humor came from the mental knots the characters tied themselves up in and not so much the dialogue itself. But the first episode of the season is Marnie's wedding, where her bridezilla behavior and Desi's ambivalence bring out the funniest in everybody. It feels like there are more jokes-per-minute than ever before.
Girls Season 5 premieres Sunday Feb. 21 at 10/9c on HBO.