In a recent interview, Jenni Konner, showrunner and writer of HBO’s “Girls,” likened abortion to shooting a puppy in the head.
Konner revealed that the first episode of “Girls” was supposed to contain an abortion storyline, but the show’s executive producer, Judd Apatow, quashed the idea because it would be too jarring for viewers.
“Judd was like: ‘Don’t lead with it, like you don’t know these characters,” Konner told Alison Rosen in the most recent episode of her podcast. “You can do any story you want once you know the characters.”
Apatow told Konner that a character having an abortion in the pilot episode of “Girls” would be like “having Kramer (of “Seinfeld”) hold up a puppy and shoot it in the head in the first episode.”
“He was right,” she said. “That wasn’t the first episode to do.”
The writers ended up pushing the abortion storyline to the second episode of the first season, in which Jessa, a character with strong sense of wanderlust, never shows up to her abortion appointment. Instead she decides to hook up with a guy who discovers that she’s on her period when he reaches down her pants. So while Jessa, played by Jemima Kirke, never actually undergoes an abortion procedure, the show does introduce the topic in its inaugural season.
Ironically, Kirke had delivered a baby just six weeks before the start of filming. In a 2012 interview with Vulture, Kirke said having a baby just weeks before playing the part of a character who is supposed to undergo an abortion was not at all intentional and that she “didn’t even associate the two” at the time.
Apatow’s visceral description of an abortion is fitting, as the end result of an abortion and shooting a puppy are the same: an innocent and defenseless being is killed. But kicking an abortion storyline further into the show didn’t make it any less jarring. The critically acclaimed show eventually had a character undergo an abortion in the fourth season. Mimi-Rose cooly announces it to Adam, her boyfriend of seven weeks, by saying: “I can’t go for a run because I had an abortion yesterday.”
Adam’s stunned reaction to Mimi-Rose’s abortion announcement is probably a close representation of how many viewers felt about the revelation.
Mimi-Rose tells Adam that she’s trying to be more open with him than she has been with previous boyfriends, and the fact she told him at all is proof of her transparency. Adam asks how many other abortions she has had, and Mimi-Rose simply states that’s private.
“I’m not going to ask you how many girls you’ve gotten pregnant,” she says.
“None. I’ve gotten no girls pregnant except for you now,” Adam says before angrily shoving a bunch of decorative items from a table onto the floor.
The show’s attempt at portraying an abortion as a casual act is a failure, as Mimi-Rose’s indifference is a creepy aspect of her character fleshed out in subsequent episodes.
Her baby isn’t the only human Mimi-Rose thinks is disposable. She frequently toys with other characters’ emotions in a borderline sociopathic manner. Later in the season, it becomes apparent Mimi-Rose’s only interest in Adam is to use him as a lure to win back her ex-boyfriend. In the process, she hurts many people around her, but doesn’t feel any guilt.
Mimi-Rose’s stoic abortion announcement effectively works to prove she is a cold person who has no qualms about harming others for her own convenience. She would shoot a puppy in the head and casually wipe the blood splatter from her face without a second thought.