Hannah Helene Horvath—flasher of principals, abuser of Q-tips, stealer of housekeeping cash—is pregnant. Thanks to a brief, blue Curaçao-fueled liaison with a sweet but vacant surfing instructor in a bunkbed in Montauk, Hannah (Lena Dunham) is unexpectedly host to a six-week-old fetus, which is (the internet informs her in Sunday’s episode, “Gummies”) currently the size of a lentil. This presents a conundrum for Hannah as a character, but also for Girls as a show, which is no stranger itself to making artistic decisions that will be endlessly analyzed. No unplanned television pregnancy can occur in a vacuum; each one takes its place among a significant collection of characters mulling a woman’s right to choose, from Maude Findlay to Miranda Hobbes. So, Hannah’s instinct to keep her baby could be read as the show veering toward an unexpectedly conservative happy ending for the character. Or, maybe it’s not that simple.
Just to preempt any rebuttals at this point that Girls is only a television show and thus has no bearing on what people do in the real world, TV pregnancies do matter. Hannah admits as much herself to Elijah, when she details her primary model for single parenthood. “I don’t have to be boring,” she argues. “I could be a cool single mom, like, you know, Lorelai Gilmore.” Fictional or no, there’s power in how pop culture explores unplanned pregnancies, and how its stories filter down to young women. In 2016, a number of popular TV shows seemed to take a deliberate (and fairly revolutionary) stand when they presented the choice to get an abortion as a not-particularly big deal. Hannah’s apparent decision to keep her baby and raise it alone is a statement, whether the show likes it or not.