‘Girls’ to Women: How to Make Your Characters Grow Up

Standard tropes for different folks – a lesson in TV writing that in its way makes way too much sense:

by Kathryn VanArendonk

Spoilers ahead for season six, episode four of Girls.

Last [week]’s episode of Girls introduced a major development for the endgame of the series: After a one-off, freewheeling weekend with her surf-camp instructor, Hannah learns she’s pregnant. It is a complete surprise to her, even though the episode introduces us to the potential crisis of such an event in the opening scene. Hannah interviews a famous, well-established older female writer who tells her, in no uncertain terms, that “childlessness is the natural state of the female author.” The question of how hard it is to be “a writer and a woman at the same time” is also unequivocal — it’s not as hard as it seems, the older author tells Hannah. It’s harder. But although she provides few details on that front, the dictum against parenthood for women who want to write is presented as an obvious statement. Maternity and writing are fundamentally incompatible. Dutifully, Hannah scribbles the rule in her notebook.

It’s too early to say how this plot will play out for Hannah Horvath. She responds with understandable affront when her ER doctor instantly offers to help arrange an abortion, but that is the obvious path forward for her. Her pregnancy arrives at a moment when her career is finally headed toward a stronger footing, but long before she has any kind of financial stability. The father is nowhere to be found. And yet, as the episode’s closing moments suggest (and promos for the next episode make even more clear), Hannah’s not entirely sure what to do.

As a move for the series, though, Hannah’s decision matters less than you might initially think. The event itself — the mere presence of this choice in her life — has already set in motion a train of rhetorical and narrative tension that will chug along irrespective of what Hannah chooses to do. The choice and its implications are already in front of us, and whatever Hannah decides, the mere existence of this story has already served its purpose. Hannah’s growth, her commitment to her career, her status as an “adult” and what kind of adult she wants to be will now be measured by the yardstick of this question….

Read it all at Vulture