Becky Ann Baker, Lena Dunham, and Andrew Rannells (Photo: HBO)

One of Lena Dunham’s strengths as a writer is her understanding of how weird and arbitrary people can be, and how people’s actual reactions to life’s curveballs are often different than how they would imagine reacting. So it’s no wonder that Dunham is bringing that same chaotic worldview to the story of how Hannah and the people closest to her cope with the news of her unexpected pregnancy. Hannah is conflicted about the idea of having a child, which seems to come as a surprise to her, as if abortion was the default option for a woman in her situation.

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This is the same Hannah who was the least anxious when Jessa thought she needed an abortion in the second episode of the series. There was at least one point in Hannah’s life where her attitude was “If you need an abortion, you go get an abortion.” And as a young feminist, Hannah is evangelical about the importance of women’s access to abortion services. But that doesn’t mean she wants to get one herself, and though her child is only the size of a lentil, Hannah has already claimed it as her own. She knows that she’s probably not the most worthy candidate for single motherhood, but Hannah also understands that the idea of readiness to procreate is kind of imaginary. Chances are, she won’t feel any more prepared for children in, say, two years than she does right now.

Hannah didn’t expect Loreen to react as calmly to the news as she does, which is why she essentially staples the pregnancy detail to the back of a lengthy, momentum-building monologue. Loreen is surprised, for sure, but also understands exactly what Hannah is going through, the combination of anxiety and joy and a newfound awe for aspects of nature you took for granted before. It also helps that Loreen, who is still in a state of emotional disarray following the sea change in her marriage, is toting a baggie full of cannabis gummies. Naturally, Loreen breaks the first two rules of edibles. (Rule number one: Wait another half-hour. Rule number two: Why are you asking about rule number two already? A half-hour hasn’t passed.)

Loreen’s happy-go-lucky high curdles into something nastier during a trip to the laundromat, and she huffs back to Hannah’s place ahead of schedule carrying a stack of fresh laundry in her arms. When Hannah arrives home, the clothes are there, but Loreen is gone, and Hannah and Elijah are tasked with tracking her down. This is only the latest in a recent string of events in which Hannah, who is frequently treated like a child, is forced to be the grown-up because no one else will. She stepped up when Marnie and Desi were having a frantic, violent fight about Desi’s opiate addiction, and last season Hannah came through in the clutch when Tad left his wallet behind after a hasty hook-up. Loreen’s gummy binge offers Hannah another opportunity to learn on the job.

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One motherhood training exercise bleeds into the next when Loreen casually mentions Hannah’s pregnancy, and Elijah becomes the latest person not to react to the news of her pregnancy the way Hannah thought they would. Hannah goes from the frying pan right into the fire, starting with Loreen’s fairly straightforward lost child simulation, then launching directly into the Kobayashi Maru that is Elijah’s adolescent, impotent rage. Initially Hannah thinks Elijah is pissed because he wasn’t brought into the loop as quickly as he would have liked, but he’s pissed because he doesn’t want Hannah to be pregnant at all.

The confrontation between Hannah and Elijah feels more real and more fraught than anything Hannah has gone through with Jessa, including the latter pair’s similar argument when Hannah was preparing to head to Iowa. Hannah was hoping Elijah would be excited about helping her raise the baby in Paul-Louis’ absence, but he doesn’t want to be part of her rom-com pitch for the next phase of her life. Elijah is definitely being selfish, but he’s in a similar position as Loreen, which is perhaps why they get along so well. They both found a life partner only to learn that the person has an idea of the future that might not include them at all. It’s a bitter pill, but I trust Hannah and Elijah to iron out their differences and get through the growing pains together.

Meanwhile, halfway through the final season, I could care less if Hannah and Adam never share a moment of screen time together. Back during simpler times, when Hannah’s biggest threat was the cartoonishly irritating Mimi-Rose Howard, Hannah and Adam still seemed like Girls’ take on a meant-to-be, endgame couple. Now Adam and Jessa both seem kind of irrelevant. It doesn’t help that they’re moving at a furious pace with their indie movie, which frankly is just a terrible plot. There are hints of a good idea somewhere in here, particularly with Jessa’s growing anxiety about how a little artistic perspective is actually making Adam more sympathetic toward Hannah rather than less so.

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But there’s something so self-indulgent about a plot in which Adam and Jessa make a movie about their not terribly interesting story of romantic betrayal. Hannah is already a funhouse mirror reflection of Dunham, so to cast another actress to play a version of that character takes Girls to some very Charlie Kaufman places. It’s distracting and pulls focus from the other part of the story, which feels very real by comparison. Even Ray’s grief and frustration with Marnie makes for more interesting television than Adam and Jessa’s navel-gazing production, and for all the time spent wondering if Hannah can repair those relationships, I now wonder how much value they are to her at all. She’s got much bigger, lentil-sized things to worry about.

Stray observations

  • The Ray and Marnie scene was really rough. She needs to let their relationship go if she feels put upon by this level of investment.
  • I really want Elijah and Hannah to mend their relationship, but Elijah owes her a huge fucking apology first.
  • I think I’d legitimately watch a Loreen spinoff, like a darker take on Grace And Frankie.

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