How 'Girls' Redefines What It Means To "Have It All"

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After six seasons spent stumbling ungracefully through life, Hannah Horvath has finally begun to find her footing. Her career is blossoming, she's made the momentous decision have a baby, and while she will always be as insufferable as she is endearing, she seems stunningly self-aware. But what's most striking about Girls Season 6 is that it doesn't lean on these milestones to define her. There are many meaningful ways to determine adulthood, and Girls confronts them in full: Family, professionalism, friendship, love.

It's a powerful contrast to the patriarchal narrative in which women must pick between pursuing a career and becoming a mother. If they choose both, they're berated for half-assing one of the two things they've been allowed to deem important. If they choose one, they're considered somehow lacking. But that's what Girls does so bracingly well. Hannah's evolution isn't tied to a singular eureka moment; She is a summation of her parts, and the measures of her success are not limited to her job status or the virility of her womb. And in that, Girls subverts what it means for a woman to "have it all," because while Hannah chooses both, that doesn't mean she has everything — she's still misguided and broke and wildly imperfect. She simply has something, by whatever definition that means for her.

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When the season picked up, Hannah had just made her first foray into big-time publishing by landing a large, splashy feature in The New York Times. She soon parlayed it into a string of steady freelance gigs, but there was never some grand, drawn-out story arc about Hannah shedding her stunted work ethic and recommitting herself to her craft.

Instead, we were dropped quietly into her success. She trekked to the Hamptons on assignment, wrote a scathing takedown of a sleazy bestselling novelist, interviewed a prominent female author, and casually breezed over a piece for GQ as an item on her to-do list — all while life happened, inescapably, around her. Writing is something we've seen her wrestle with intermittently over the last five years, so it seemed a natural progression that at some point, she'd finally piece it together.

The show broaches Hannah's pregnancy in a similar manner. Often times, television turns to pregnancy as a demarcation for adulthood — a life-altering bar by which to evaluate a female character's growth and status as a woman. But here, it simply happens, just as it does to real women with real circumstances not that far off from Hannah's.

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Fittingly, Girls didn't devote much screen-time to Hannah's decision-making. It was a choice she made with uncharacteristic conviction, though the factors she weighed so carefully in her very characteristic Word document showed she was painfully aware of her circumstances. “I will make less than 24K this year” and “I am only 27 — I act even younger than that” were among the items on the list.

As Hannah grappled with the immensity of motherhood, she was immediately thrust into the inanity of Adam and Jessa's film proposal. In the moment, it was perhaps the last thing that she was equipped to handle, but she was forced to confront it nonetheless, and she brushed it off with remarkable restraint. Later, when Jessa showed up to accost her, she also demonstrated profound maturity. She explained, quite plainly, that she no longer cared, proving she does have the gumption to cut toxicity from her life, even after all these years.

It's not so much her job or her pregnancy, then, that delineate how far Hannah has come, but the way she contemplates, processes, and accepts the things hurled toward her. Finding her place in her career, becoming a mother — those will undoubtedly be transformative junctures in her life, but they will not be the singular things that determine whether or not she's led a fulfilling one. Because life doesn't have a lightbulb moment. Growing up is a gradual, ongoing process, and to gauge it by the impossible benchmark of "having it all" is futile. Having it all can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For Hannah Horvath, it just means embracing who she is, and whatever else that comes with it.