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HBO’s acclaimed comedy ‘Girls’ off to a slow start in the ratings

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Critics evidently love ‘Girls’ more than viewers do.

HBO’s comedy got off to a slow start in the ratings Sunday night, despite some brilliant reviews. An average of 872,000 total viewers tuned in to the 10:30 p.m. premiere, with 246,000 more showing up for the 12:30 a.m. encore, according to Nielsen.

That means ‘Girls’ — which stars Lena Dunham as a young woman navigating career and relationship troubles in New York — lost more than 20% of the audience from its lead-in, the third-season finale of ‘Eastbound & Down’ (1.1 million). Generally speaking, TV executives look for a show to retain at least 80% of the audience from the show that preceded it.

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Maybe it’s for refined tastes. The critics poured love on the show, with an aggregate rating of 87 out of 100 at the website metacritic.com. However, Times critic Mary McNamara noted that although ‘Girls’ is ‘wildly smart,’ it’s nevertheless ‘a difficult show to love.’

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— Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)


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