HBO Max’s Love Life became one of my favorite new series of 2020; though it looked to be a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, it defied these expectations. Anna Kendrick plays Darby in the anthology series (meaning season one is Darby’s story of her growing up and eventually finding the one, while subsequent seasons will follow different lead characters). Settling into the first couple episodes, the format—one love interest per episode—seemed predictable yet comforting, and I awaited Sex and the City-like dating hijinks. (Warning: spoilers ahead!)
However, Love Life surprised me with some twists and turns in Darby’s life. A whirlwind romance turns out to be an emotionally abusive situation she must extract herself from; Augie, the first love who returns to her does not fulfill the cliché of being The One, but instead the one with who she gets accidentally pregnant… just as she decides to dump him. Augie and Darby make the decision to have the baby, and as two mature adults, decide to co-parent their son.
As much as I admired the positive co-parenting portrayal, the decision I ended up thinking the most about was Darby’s choice to keep the baby. A friend of mine who binged the show just as fast texted me about this, wondering why a 20-something single New Yorker would keep an accidental pregnancy. Partially due to the way the show fast forwards through parts of her life, we don’t get to hear Darby’s reason for wanting to keep the child; she isn’t portrayed as being particularly religious or worried that this is her only shot. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even mention having kids up to this point.
The more I thought about it and wondered about the decision, the more I was glad the show decided to have Darby keep the baby because it’s the most pro-choice thing it could have done. When we think of being pro-choice, we often think of the other choice—not to keep a child, but of course, it’s there right there in the name. Darby chooses this. She’s in her late 20s, her career is on fire, and she has just broken up with her boyfriend. Maybe many of us would not choose to have a baby at a time like this, but Darby decides offscreen that it’s right for her. (It’s never really the right time, though, right?)
It’s not smooth sailing for Darby—she does have to navigate a co-parenting web and raise a tiny baby in a tinier New York apartment—but she’s happy. It’s actually a fresh angle to take on a romantic comedy show, and while unplanned pregnancies become TV plot twists all the time, Darby’s isn’t a play for laughs or a path to bring her and her ex together. It just is, like so many of our parenting and life decisions. As with its depiction of sharing custody, Love Life pulls off another positive portrayal we could stand to see more of: that of the happy single mom.