If there’s one thing that Millenials reject wholeheartedly, it’s the idea that there’s an identity passed to us that we should subscribe to. We don’t like being told that we’re supposed to live a certain life, that we’re supposed to be a certain way, or that we’re supposed to fit some idealized form of “adulthood”. Certainly, there are markers in place that traditionally mark “adulthood”, like getting that post-college job, getting married, having a child, buying a house, but those markers are coming further and further down the line, not necessarily because we want it that way, but because of the conditions forced on us. And that makes it difficult for us to use those markers, because they’re from an era that doesn’t exist anymore.
Now, I hate to generalize among all Millenials, but I think there’s something to be said about growing up under a specific set of world events. I consider myself a Millenial, and that means that (as an American) I grew up under two presidencies: George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Bush was during my teenage years, and so all of the patriotism that I had learned growing up, all of the flag waving and song singing, had been shattered much like it had been for others during Vietnam. I listened to punk music. I remember learning about Abu Ghraib. I remember hearing about conditions in Guantanamo. I remember hearing about thousands upon thousands dying for a war that had to real goal, that was built on a lie. My illusions were shattered. And then Obama was elected. He was an imperfect president, but he was an icon for America becoming something greater. Gay marriage was legalized. Black people were able to say in public with real force that their lives mattered. Millenials felt like they had some sort of national identity, that America was a force that was moving forward. And now we’re dealing with our first real president as people in our mid/late 20s. And that president is Donald Trump. The sheer whiplash that America has gone through has an effect, and many of us don’t look to these prescribed notions of identity that are given to us because it all looks like a bunch of lies.
All of this rambling is to say that this episode of Girls deals with trying to find an identity in a world that you both reject and that rejects you. And nobody really knows how to find that identity. This episode, more than anything else, takes Hannah and places in front of her a massive, massive question. What will make you whole? Your writing career? Motherhood? There’s an extent to which Hannah rejects what the writer tells her at the beginning of the episode, that motherhood is an unnatural state, not because she’s not a feminist, but because there’s something dogmatic about the way that feminists adhere to third-wave feminist thought. It’s organized, and because of that, it’s somewhat contorted. Hannah is the kind of person that rejects any sort of organized thought because her identity revolves around a sort of adverse reaction to that thought. So she wanders aimlessly, going to different professions, trying on different versions of herself in order to see what fits. But she still doesn’t know, and now she has to make a choice when it counts.
So Hannah’s pregnant. It’s Joshua from Season 2 that tells her, that coddles her and tells her that he knows somebody who can help her with an abortion. But she doesn’t like that, not necessarily because she wants a child, but because she clings to others for help and is sick of it. She calls her mom when she has an untreated UTI and needs somebody to tell her what to do. She has Elijah comfort her when she’s scared and unsure what to do. Hannah rejects these patterns of organized thought, but clings to other people for dear life. And this pregnancy is her chance to break free from that, to break free from preconceived notions that she has of herself and old patterns that keep her from becoming something better.
The rest of the episode deals with the way that Marnie and Ray search for a sense of purpose. Marnie is really just infatuated with herself, unwilling to deal with the problems of others. Desi’s counselor tells it to her straight, and even though she balks at it, there has to be a part of her that agrees, even if it’s not enough to act on. Ray, on the other hand, is getting older and really doesn’t have the sense of purpose he hoped he had. He runs a coffee shop, but he’s seeing people close to him die, and it’s making him think about what his own life is worth. He and Marnie are coming to a breaking point, and quickly, because Marnie and Ray aren’t able to help each other out of their respective crises.
Is it even possible to find that purpose that everybody is looking for? It’s like hunting for the meaning of life. It morphs and changes and evolves as we do, and because it’s everchanging, it’s undefinable. What Hannah needs to figure out, as she asks herself whether she should have a child, is whether or not a child will bring her some sense of purpose. But more than that, she needs to figure out whether it will bring her a sense of purpose that she chooses. Not what her mother tells her. Not what Joshua tells her. Not what some snooty writer tells her. Hannah needs to figure out for herself, in as independent a way as possible, what her life is supposed to be.
What did you think of this episode of Girls? Do you think Ray is going to kill himself? Do you think Hannah is keeping the baby? Let me know in the comments!