By: Sarah E. Bull
Fictional pregnancies ruin everything.
Have you ever been watching a show, and it’s getting on in seasons? The writing slips and viewership declines, but you stick with it out of habit—then BAM. In search of a ratings boost, one of the main characters is either pregnant or fathering a child, and all the sudden that’s all the show is about.
In some cases, this works great. Viewership increases and the plot is refreshed. It might even keep the show on the air a while longer, instead of getting mercifully put out its misery.
The pregnancy itself is often annoying enough. You’ve got the pregnant character clutching her faux bump, the actress likely getting a rash from wearing the thing. 90% of her dialogue begins to contain the word baby or, something pertaining to it. And I’m left wondering if I’m an awful person when I think, you know, I’m beginning to wish this fake unborn child would miscarry.
To make matters worse, once the kid is born the writers typically come out of their baby-drama induced comas, blinking in wonder at the situation they’ve created. A cry pierces the beautiful vision of their show, flourishing with almost an average amount of viewers. They look down and there is a squalling infant at their feet. Now what?
A common “solution” is SOARS, soap opera rapid aging syndrome. What this means is that the darling just-birthed infant turns into a teenager within a season of their birth and, hooray! Now the writers get to torture their viewers with ridiculous teenager drama.
In fantasies, this is typically justified by the baby being magical, the chosen one, or some other trope meant to whip audiences into a frenzy. When the child’s born, they may age up to follow the “chosen one” plot line— still getting some of that sweet teenager drama in there too.
Anyway, the point I wanted to make at the end of this rant is that, fictional baby drama is not fun. It should not be used to save a dying show. Often, it just destroys the reputation of a once at least semi-watchable show. Notable exceptions to this, that I can think of, are in Breaking Bad and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I’m sure there are others, but I can’t think of any.
So at the end of all of this, you’re often left with a show gone off the rails on the baby train. I often wonder who enjoys this, and why we the viewers allow this to happen. It seems to me someone needs to draft up a petition. No more plot-convenient babies. Let dying things die in peace. I’d sure sign it.