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[Warning: The following story contains spoilers from the sixth-season Girls episode “Painful Evacuation.”]
Lena Dunham wasn’t kidding when she said that Riz Ahmed’s surf instructor would have a lingering effect on her Girls character.
Dunham’s Hannah discovered on Sunday night’s episode that she’s pregnant from her fling with Ahmed’s Paul-Louis, learning about the news very matter-of-factly from Joshua (Patrick Wilson), the doctor she also had a fling with in the second-season episode “One Man’s Trash.”
Hannah goes to the ER, on the insistence of her mom, after suffering from what feels like a particularly painful UTI. Joshua turns out to be the doctor delivering her diagnosis — and he mentions the pregnancy as an afterthought, surprising Hannah and viewers.
Joshua quickly begins talking about abortion options, but Hannah shoots back, “What makes you think I want an abortion?” She walks out and seeks comfort from Elijah (Andrew Rannells) back at their apartment.
So why did the Girls team decide to have Hannah end up pregnant this way, and is she keeping the baby?
Co-showrunner Jenni Konner spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about all of that as well as how Garry Shandling influenced the episode’s other big moment: the death of Ray’s (Alex Karpovsky) boss, Hermie (Colin Quinn).
When did you have the idea that you wanted to have Hannah get pregnant and have this be a storyline that you’d explore?
Lena’s been talking about it since the first season, that this might be a possible place where Hannah would wind up. She’s been talking about it for so long. But I guess it was in the fourth season that we decided, for sure, to go for it [in the final season].
What about the fact that she gets pregnant from a fling as opposed to someone that she’s been in a relationship with?
I mean, I guess the idea with Paul-Louis was to have not someone you want necessarily as your co-parent but who could be great in terms of the genes that you want. He’s very beautiful. He’s very positive. He’s a sweet guy. I think that all of those things make him appealing.
After she gets the news, Joshua starts talking about abortion and she says, “What makes you think I want an abortion?” And it seems, from the preview for the next episode, that she is possibly thinking about keeping the baby. Is she still considering it? Has she made a decision to keep the baby?
I think in this episode the answer is still slightly unclear, but [she makes a decision] pretty soon.
With the “One Man’s Trash” episode, there was a theory that that might’ve been a dream—
[Girls director] Richard Shepard [who helmed the “One Man’s Trash” episode] had kind of always kept saying, “Don’t you think this all could’ve been a dream?” He kind of liked the idea that it could have all been a dream. And we were like, “It wasn’t a dream! It happened. Trust us, it happened.” So he was kind of jokingly upset when we said we were bringing [Joshua] back, because it really kind of answers that question.
Another thing that happened in the episode was that Hermie, Colin Quinn’s character, died. Why did you decide this was the time for him to go?
Honestly, the truth was that Judd [Apatow] lost Garry Shandling, who was one of his closest friends and his mentor, and it just seeped into everything. It seeped into our creativity. It was a real time of loss for Judd. I don’t know exactly how it came up, but that’s where it came from.
Was that tied to what we see in the episode of Ray wanting to talk to Hermie and understanding that Hermie had a message for him and not being able to speak to him that last time?
How’s this going to affect Ray going forward?
His immediate reaction will be a really dark one. It’s one of those things where, like with the pregnancy, the stakes change when it’s actually life or death. It’s going to wreck him, but it’s ultimately going to set him on his path.
You mentioned that Lena had the idea of Hannah getting pregnant for a while and you decided to go for it in season four, and there were those paparazzi photos over the summer. But viewers didn’t see any hint of the pregnancy in the first few episodes of the season. Was it something you were intentionally trying to keep under wraps at the very beginning of the final season?
Yeah, I mean, we wanted it to be as much of a surprise to the audience as it was to Hannah.
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