How Hannah's Decision To Keep Her Baby On 'Girls' Changed The Conversation About Choice
On Sunday night's episode of Girls titled "Gummies," in the cold open, the camera cut to the graphic of how big a fetus is at six weeks pregnant. It was the size of a lentil, which also balanced preciously on Hannah's fingertip for consideration. This was one of many moments which led to my elation over Hannah choosing to keep her baby on Girls. As a woman who chose her career over her pregnancy, I found "Gummies" to be a profound viewing experience because it allowed me to appreciate my choices but see the importance of both sides of this big choice. "Gummies" was a pro-choice episode that chose to go the other way, the unexpected way, the way that was completely antithetical to what we've come to expect of Hannah.
Seeing that lentil, which was balanced so carefully for inspection on Hannah's fingertip, reminded me that that was the size of the the fetus that was growing inside me when I chose my career over continuing with a pregnancy resulting from a one-night stand. It reminded me that I was at the crossroads that Hannah was standing at and that for women, this choice is never an easy one to make. I wanted to write, I wanted to work, and I wanted to be independent. That lentil reminded me that there's no shame in the fact that I chose to have an abortion, but there is also no shame in Hannah choosing to be a single, working mother.
Watching Hannah choose a different path to mine — despite that fact that we are both Millennial women, feminists, and pro-choice — gave me an incredible sense of perspective. While Hannah will most likely spend her pregnancy taking care of herself (as opposed to having a friend or partner close by to help) and she will most likely raise her child by herself, I remember what it was like to be alone and going through the process of having an abortion. It's a scary road to travel, no matter which one you take, and going through life with the decision to keep or not keep a baby has a way of changing you. But the choices that Hannah and I made are two powerful sides to an argument around reproductive rights still being waged in our nation now.
That's what I found so beautiful and praiseworthy about "Gummies." These days, some television shows are openly discussing abortion, but we don't often see a realistic, yet positive portrayal of a young woman choosing to keep a baby, knowing she wants to keep going but still unsure of what her life will look like six months, one year, or 10 years down the road. That was Hannah in this episode of Girls. She appeared scared, but excited at what the future held for her. For viewers, and especially for young women who find themselves at this similar crossroads, seeing this kind of choice can be powerful.
I not only applaud Hannah, but I applaud Girls writer Sarah Hayward, who wrote this moment in Hannah's story in such contrast to Hannah of days gone by. It shows growth in a character who has often been shown to be messy, blissfully self-contained, independent, and regularly unprepared for the realness that life has to offer.
While previous episodes in this in final season have shown that Hannah is now the only grownup in the room (remember how she had to wrangle Desi and Marnie on the road trip from hell?), this decision to keep her baby and go forward is proof that we're dealing with New Hannah. This is the Hannah that, arguably, we've always hoped Original Hannah would become.
Knowing what we know about Ms. Horvath from previous seasons, her choice is perhaps the most radical thing that this show has ever done. Built on the idea that Millennial women can do anything they want to today, Girls proved with "Gummies" that it is vital for women to be empowered enough to know they have actual choices and rights over their own bodies. Sometimes that means having an abortion. Sometimes that means choosing to be a mother.
Yet again, a television show offered up a depiction of the world that I have not experienced: choosing to becoming a young, single mother when the world has told you you're not ready. The power of this medium has always been to show us different aspects of life, of society, and of the human condition. "Gummies" did all three of those things and by the time the credits rolled, I was practically giving applause.
Girls gave a new meaning to the term "pro-choice" on Sunday night and left me, a woman who chose differently, in a state of contented awe.