A man gestating and giving birth to a baby! Can you even imagine? Well, yes. But 1994 was a different time. A time when men having babies was science fiction but Emma Thompson snogging Arnold Schwarzenegger was all too real. I couldn't write about dads as primary caregivers without considering a movie in which a (cis) man literally has a baby. Junior isn't the only example of this, but it's probably the best known.
It starts when the FDA decides not to approve the development of a new drug, Expectane, that scientist Dr. Alex Hesse (Arnie) and OB/Gyn Dr. Larry Arbogast (Danny DeVito) have been working on. The medication reduces the risk of miscarriage in chimps, and the men want to trial it with women. But having failed with the FDA, Hesse's university withdraws his lab funding and installs Dr. Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson) and her ovum cryogenics project in his place.
I used to love My Two Dads. To recap, or in case you (shocked face) never saw it: the show was about two single, straight Manhattan bachelors who were given joint custody of 12-year old Nicole after her mom/their joint ex-girlfriend died. Living with just one mom, I was fascinated by a show that centered around a girl's relationship with her two fathers. Except I re-watched some of it recently, and it's not about that at all.
I don't have exact stats, but it seems like the vast majority of shows and movies about single and stay-at-home dads feature a father-daughter dynamic. This could lead to some interesting explorations of what it means to parent a child with a different gender to your own in our patriarchal society. But most often, it's a way to reinforce society's discomfort with young women's sexuality.
As you might have noticed, there have been a lot of primary caregiver dads in pop culture (no pun intended) lately. In addition to populating long-running shows like Two and a Half Men, Castle, and Dexter, we've seen single dads on Raising Hope, Louie, and Suburgatory, plus Will Arnett as a sensitive stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) on Up All Night. This year, though, we've hit the father lode.
This week on Call the Midwife, there were only two births, and one of them was a piglet. The plot has veered away from focusing exclusively on pregnancy and birth, offering viewers the opportunity to think more broadly about reproductive health.
The hour-long PBS drama follows a group of young midwives in London's East End in the 1950s, led by a convent of Anglican nursing nuns, the Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus. The show's premise offers an opportunity to examine reproductive health on television without having to contend with contemporary political quandaries, and provides an excellent teachable moment for the anti-choice among us. Plus, it's just good TV.
Last night, nine million of us set aside our differences, turned on our TVs, and watched Connie Britton and Hayden Panetierre go country. That's right y'all, it was the premiere of ABC's Nashville, a Music City version of All About Eve with enough rhinestones, twang, and Powers Boothe bitchface to fill the Grand Ole Opry (which they did, because the first few scenes were actually filmed there). In keeping with ABC's reputation for primetime soaps, last night's episode set up plenty of fun hot-people-with-secrets drama, but it also set up a tired Madonna/whore dynamic between its two female leads. Set to a kickass soundtrack, of course.