Girls writer Sarah Heyward seems pretty chill about ending the whole thing. As she explains to Bustle, that's in part because the showrunners Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner have always communicated that six seasons would be as far as they'd want to go with the story of Hannah and her friends Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna, and also because the writers had the time to end the characters' stories the way they wanted to. Heyward's confidence in the ending of Girls is enough to comfort any fans who are worried about the way their beloved series will wrap up on Sunday, April 16.
When I ask Heyward how she is feeling about the impending Girls finale, the writer, who has been with the show since Season 1, casually says, "I feel fine because six years is a long time to work on anything." After all, with the knowledge that the show would probably never extend beyond six seasons, Heyward had time to prepare. "It felt very like one of those things where you know where the end is, so you adjust your expectations and your emotions to fit that. I felt ready for it to end in that we were telling stories in a complete way and nothing was being cut off abruptly," she says. Plus, "it's way better to end when you still feel like you're presenting fresh ideas and not when you're exhausting yourself trying to think of more that you could talk about."
The fact that Girls knew how it was going to end is also something that helps since although Hannah's pregnancy took fans by surprise, the writers had been planning where the characters would end up for seasons. "We knew very early at least a vague idea of what almost everyone's endings would be," Heyward says. "Since Season 2 or 3, there's been little things we've been talking about or working toward and, of course, some of that has changed over the years, but I would say almost nothing in the finale came as a real surprise to any of the writers because we've been discussing the possibilities for many, many seasons."
Those endings definitely included Hannah's pregnancy, which is something Dunham had in mind since the early seasons of the show. "From Season 2, I remember saying to Jenni and Judd [Apatow], 'I think Hannah ends up with a baby upstate,'" Dunham told Vulture and Heyward confirms that this plot was established that early on.
"She definitely mentioned [the pregnancy] really early and then we didn't talk about it as much in the middle seasons, but it was always something we had in mind — at least in the back of our minds," Heyward says. "And then as we approached what we knew to be the final two seasons, it became much more of a real conversation. You know, 'Who is the father gonna be? Is this the type of thing where she's with someone? Not with someone?' Those are the kinds of questions we then had as opposed to like, 'Are we actually going to make her pregnant or not?'"
As for if Heyward ever envisioned Girls ending differently, the thought never really crossed her mind. Although she has provided an important voice to the show, cowriting the memorable "Hannah and Elijah do cocaine" episode with Dunham in Season 2 (entitled "Bad Friend") and writing this season's "Gummies," among others, she says that she has always written Girls in a way that supports Dunham's vision.
"I would say the whole show has been so tied to Lena's vision that — whether I trained myself or it just comes naturally — I can't even think of possibilities that aren't tied to what she wants," Heyward says. "So, as soon as she says she has a vision for the end of the series I just absorb that information and then work accordingly. So I hadn't really thought about it much beyond, like 'OK, how are we gonna do [Hannah's pregnancy] in a cool, interesting way that's true to the show?'"
"I am totally satisfied with this as an ending and I had a bunch of questions from friends earlier in the season about my opinion," Heyward says. "Like people didn't know if she was going to keep the baby or not and whether it's realistic and I said to them, which is also something we talked about in the [writers'] room, like, to me, as much as Lena is the most outspoken advocate for Planned Parenthood and has said many things about abortion, including controversially saying she wishes she had had an abortion, it still makes total sense to me that Hannah would keep this baby."
She continues: "Whatever comments Lena's made, Lena is also someone who wants kids and talks about eventually having kids, so you know it's not so out of the realm of possibility that she would feel connected to a character that wants to be a young mother," Heyward says. She also mentions how people have always had a hard time separating Dunham from her character on Girls — but Dunham is not Hannah Horvath and Hannah choosing to keep her baby was something that felt very true to her character, Heyward says.
"It's both impulsive, which we know Hannah is, and also makes sense in a way because she's always been kind of seeking meaning for her life and trying to find the path that's gonna be her path and this is a path that presented itself to her and for whatever reason, she's taking it as sort of like being forced into adulthood, which is maybe the push she needed," she says.
Despite Dunham being a vocal advocate for reproductive rights, Heyward says that she liked that Girls didn't have a "choice episode" in its final season. "I know it's realistic that you would have the conversation about are you keeping [the baby] or not, but on TV, it almost feels less realistic because as soon as you see that conversation, you're like, 'Fine, they're keeping it,'" Heyward says. "To me, personally as a viewer, I just found it more pleasant to have her just make the decision and we don't have to hear her agonize about it, knowing she's going to keep it."
Thanks to the writers' careful planning over seasons, it doesn't seem like the ending of Girls will have any major surprises — especially since Hannah is already far along in her pregnancy and moving out of Brooklyn. While this preparation has made the inevitable ending far less painful than other series finales, there is still an aspect that Heyward will miss. "I'm going to miss working with all my coworkers because I love them. And it was an inspiring place to work and it was fun and I love that we were creating something that people were talking about," she says. "But in terms of an emotional arc, I felt like all of us were ready to bring it to a close." And with one of the writers of Girls being so content with how Hannah's story ends, how can viewers not feel the same sense of closure?