Despite the surprising maturity that Hannah found in the first half of “Girls’” final season, episode six proves trying in familiar ways. Hannah gets a ridiculous idea in her head: that she has no obligation to tell Paul-Louie she is bearing his child.
Kudos to the even-handedness of the writers for including characters that think this is an extremely unfair and unreasonable decision on Hannah’s part. Thankfully, towards the end of the episode, she starts to come around and she even tries to contact him. Hopefully she follows through.
Marnie takes the news of Hannah’s pregnancy pretty well considering her powerful inability to care about anything except herself. Her narcissism is reaching parodic levels—and yet we all still probably know at least one real-life Marnie. She, again, doesn’t realize that Desi is super high as they are about to perform at a birthday party. Upon realization, she accuses everyone of preventing her from being the godmother to Hannah’s baby that she is destined to be—whatever that means.
I have no idea how long it actually takes to make an indie film, but Jessa and Adam are finished with their project just as quickly as they start. Adam shows up at Hannah’s house and begs her to watch it and tell him what she thinks. He needs to know if his memories mirror reality in any way. There is also a glimmer of remorse on his face when Hannah announces her pregnancy to him. Who knows what will come of it in future episodes…
The news of Hannah’s pregnancy through the grapevine also sparks a long-awaited confrontation between Jessa and Hannah. After months of silence, Jessa is still hurt that Hannah wouldn’t tell her about the pregnancy in person. Hannah is hell-bent on erasing Jessa from her life and her memory. But Hannah finally starts to realize that this kind of erasure is impossible. She can’t eliminate Jessa, or Adam, or the father of her baby by ignoring them. Once again, as Hannah grows into her own adulthood, she is forced to look soberly at the world, her past, and herself.
All the pregnancy questions raised during this season keep giving me mental throwbacks to the first couple seasons of “Friends”—which I’ve watched religiously since I was a kid because my parents loved the show. While both shows have been controversial for progressive sexual ethics, the cultural conception of what it means to be a mid-twenty-something living in New York City could not be more different since the sitcom aired in 1994.
In just over 20 years, the social questions we are asking and representing through television shows have progressed wildly. When Monica was twenty-six, she was practically plagued by baby fever. Her friends had to assure her, “don’t worry, it will happen one day, you’re going to be a great mother.” But now, as Hannah is accidentally pregnant at roughly the same age, her decision to have a child seems full of impossibilities. Is she mature enough? How can she afford it? Shouldn’t she do what is best for herself?
I know plenty of women today who decide to start having children before they turn thirty and they are treated like irrational aliens by their friends, colleagues, and even their employers or parents—yet not very long ago it was treated as a perfectly reasonable, even desirable, decision.
Similarly, in “Friends,” when Susan is accidentally pregnant with Ross’s child, abortion is not even alluded to as a possibility. And there is no social questioning about whether or not Ross should be included in the decision process. While Susan’s body remains always her own possession, the child inside her is implicitly understood as a product of both Susan and Ross. No such assumption is easily granted in “Girls” or in the milieu in which we find ourselves today.
Whether you call this transition “progress” or a symptom of rampant individualism contributing to the erosion of a full and harmonious understanding of the social nature of humanity, the comparison is striking. Have people ever lived in a time when social consciousness developed and changed so quickly? While social memory subsequently eroded?
If “Friends” were made in 2014, would Ben exist? If Hannah were a character in 1994, would the human life inside her be considered an ultimate catastrophe? What does this juxtaposition say about the way we think of women and pregnancy today? There are plenty more comparisons between the two shows that could be made. Our ideas about living in New York, professional success, friendship, adulthood, money, and much more have all changed radically since 1994.