Gina Florio
March 13, 2017 4:24 pm
HBO

The final season of HBO’s hit series Girls has been jam-packed with all kinds of drama, and we’ve only seen 5 episodes so far. We found out last week (major spoilers ahead) that Lena Dunham’s character Hannah is pregnant, which came as just as much of a surprise to us as it did to her. Last night’s episode, entitled “Gummies,” informed us right off the bat that Hannah has decided to become a mother, insisting that this baby feels like “my baby.”

We have to admit we were pretty shocked at this news, and we were equally shocked when Hannah’s mother Loreen reacted in such a calm way. Was it the pot-filled gummy worms talking? Or was she genuinely pledging her allegiance to her daughter’s decision? Whatever the case may be, Hannah spent the majority of “Gummies” chasing her super stoned mother around the city, participating in a not-so-coincidental, not-so-subtle parental role reversal.

The pinnacle of the episode came right after Loreen, in her altered state of mind, let the news of Hannah’s pregnancy and soon-to-be motherhood slip out in front of Elijah, who was previously oblivious to it all. He stormed out of the restaurant and into a busy kitchen, where he and Hannah hashed it out in a cramped space in front of strangers, NYC-style.

Elijah made it very clear from the beginning that he thinks having this baby is a mistake. “You’re not ready for this,” he says definitively. Watching Hannah develop (or, you know, not) over the last several seasons, we can’t help but agree in some ways. She’s highly self-involved, financially unstable, detrimentally insecure, and she has trouble taking care of herself.

Therefore, we are hardly surprised when Elijah spouts, “You’re gonna be a terrible mother.” More importantly, it’s difficult not to agree with him when those words come out of his mouth, seeping with venom. We start to imagine all those times Hannah screwed up — jamming a Q-tip so far into her ear she has to rush to the ER, badgering her late editor’s wife for publisher contacts at his funeral of all places, showing her vag to her boss in an attempt to get out of trouble. You yourself probably internally nodded in agreement with Elijah. Maybe you think Hannah will make a “terrible mother.”

HBO

Herein lies the problem, though.

As soon as a woman announces she is going to have a baby, our society thinks it has free reign to assess everything about her character, as if it’s their job to determine whether she will be a worthy mother. We see this happen just as much in real life as we do on TV or in the movies.

For example, in Juno, the snooty ultrasound technician expressed relief when she learned that Ellen Page’s character was giving her baby up for adoption, since she was convinced Juno would make a terrible mother because of her age. They had been in the same room for all but 5 minutes. It’s as if pregnancy gives people free reign to put a woman in front of an unforgiving crowd and examine all her qualities to determine what kind of mom she will make.

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The most devoted fans of Girls are likely wondering what the purpose of this storyline even is. Is Lena Dunham attempting to give Hannah a traditional happy ending? Are we finally going to see Hannah turn into a functioning adult because she’s pregnant (which is a common Judd Apatow-inspired storyline, btw)? Or is this narrative meant to be a commentary on how a woman’s choice to have a baby in her 20s is rarely accepted in this day and age?

We won’t know the answer to these questions until we see more of this season play out, but we have a strong feeling that Elijah will merely be the first of many characters on Girls to dole out their opinions on Hannah’s future caliber of motherhood. And that might just be the point. Maybe the writers of Girls are intentionally showing how gendered and unfair it is that women have to deal with such heavy criticism simply because they’re expecting.

Hannah may not be in the most ideal position to give birth at the moment, but would the father of her child, a cute yet ditzy surf instructor, come under the same amount of investigation by the public if he announced he was having a child? Probably not.

One could argue that Elijah was being the voice of reason when he told Hannah parenthood was “a really bad idea.” She nearly convinced herself of the same at the beginning of the episode when she typed out all the reasons she shouldn’t have the baby (“I am only 27 — I act even younger than that”). However, Elijah — the unemployed, aimless, “unhinged” friend who has mistreated just about everyone on Girls, albeit hilariously so — crossed over from being a concerned companion to an unnecessarily condemnatory critic. And it seems like Girls doesn’t want us to overlook that.

It’s worth pointing out that Elijah’s hurtful words partly arose from his own fears. Life as he knew it was about to change forever. “We had a really special, specific thing going on, you and me,” he said to Hannah. He’s in pre-mourning over the fact that his life with Hannah is essentially coming to an end. Even so, while Mama Loreen is busy getting high, Elijah is left to represent how cruel our society can be towards pregnant women and the choices they make.

We have no idea what Hannah will actually end up doing about her pregnancy before the end of this season, since she’s known to change her mind about big life decisions. No matter what, though, “Gummies” has forced us to think twice before we pass judgment on her, because just like us, she’s doing the best she can with the hand she’s been dealt.

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