Unlike with Bobbi, Frances lies to almost everyone else in her life about her health and what she eventually learns is endometriosis. It’s not hard to see why: a medical professional downplays her pain from her, Nick mistakes her weak voice for a late-night drunken phone call, and she does n’t want to be viewed as a “sick person,” whatever that means . But as we see her start to learn during the back half of the series, her condition is not going anywhere, and hiding it from the people she cares about wo n’t change her day to day reality. If anything, it means she shoulders the burden alone. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but one that will likely be familiar to disabled or chronically ill viewers whose condition is invisible.
In episode six, after leaving the hospital, Frances muses “What are you allowed to feel about something that probably wasn’t anything at all?” She could be lamenting the non-relationship that is her affair with Nick or thinking about the miscarriage that wasn’t, but it resonates strongly as a commentary on ongoing health issues and the particular emotional wound of the in-between world of a lack of diagnosis. Frances waits weeks, possibly even months, before she is diagnosed with endometriosis – but sadly, she’s actually lucky. In the United States, it typically takes four to 11 years to receive a diagnosis. One of the medical professionals tells Frances that “only one in ten women” has endo, but there’s nothing “only” about 10% of all women suffering, mostly in silence, from unbearable pain.
Dealing with medical news is tricky business, and it’s hard to know how we’ll react. No one has to be all things to all people, but Frances especially seems to have an all-or-nothing view of love and relationships, and she seemed to want to tell Nick, reaching out to him but falling short of telling him. That makes it seem like her keeping her health information from Nick is meaningful, and a significant hurdle to their ability to be happy together. Frances eventually admits as much, saying that she didn’t want to change how he viewed her and that she wasn’t sure if he would still care for her if she couldn’t give him a child.
The tenderness and care with which Bobbi helps Frances is moving, but perhaps the most devastatingly selfless thing she does is call Nick, because she knows that’s who Frances wants to see in that moment. She knows Frances needs to tell him about her health issues but she does not quite know how. It’s the move of a person who knows her best friend de ella better than she knows herself. She puts Frances ‘needs her above her own. It’s the kind of sacrifice you make for someone you truly love. Thankfully, though it takes a while, Frances eventually realizes how much she loves Bobbi in the present tense, telling Nick during the final phone call of the series that she loved Bobbi the whole time.
Nick’s mental health looms larger in the original text, an ongoing topic of discussion and point of concern for him and Frances as well as him and Melissa. In the book, the question becomes whether it’s responsible or fair for a man in his 30s to rely on a 21-year-old he’s having an affair with to “solve” his depression, or at least keep it at bay, adding another twisty layer to the semi-transactional nature of his relationship with Frances (he also lends her money when she’s flat out.) Whereas on the show, it reads not as a problem Frances was meant to solve, but as a situation true partners work through together , serving as an indication of her immaturity that she cut and run. Both work, but the latter version fits the kinder, gentler version of on-screen Nick.
The show’s interpretation demonstrates yet another parallel between Frances and Nick and their communication failures, but also how they could be there for one another in the future. Both have health issues that they have complicated feelings about and try to hide from the other. But realistically, they won’t be able to have the kind of relationship they’re looking for without opening up.