Take a look at the photo on the left. Starting in January, Jeff Winger will be replaced by Liz Lemon. No wonder he looks so dismayed in the picture!
In case you haven't heard, Community is being pulled off the schedule indefinitely (boo) and being replaced by 30 Rock (yay for that, at least). Whitney is swapping places with Up All Night, and in celebration I've decided to pretend the show is already off the Thursday night schedule and not bother to recap it anymore. Hope you're cool with that. Let's get started!
Patty Chase (Betty Armstrong) puts up with a lot of shit. Not only does she have to put up with playing the bad cop to good cop dad, Graham Chase (Tom Irwin), but she also gave birth to teenage drama lightning rod Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and has to work for her own dad (Paul Dooley), whose staggering immaturity puts any Liberty High student to shame. Nobody gave Patty enough credit for enduring record levels of angst and ennui once every week when the show was on the air, and that's why I'm dedicating this week's Pop Pedestal to My So-Called Life's Patricia Chase.
Today, new methods have replaced DeLee's, and yet popular obstetric interventions (cesareans, amniotomies, labor-inducing drugs, episiotomies, epidurals) are still designed to transfer control from the woman to her labor assistant. 33% of births in the United States are by cesarean, a rate that has grown significantly during the previous decade, in tandem with increasing rates of maternal injury and death. Yet representations of childbirth in television and film rarely show cesareans. Which is why I was so grateful for Reagan's recent childbirth episode on Up All Night.
I'm having a bad day. Last night, I had a nightmare about the Bella Swan birth scene from Breaking Dawn. (To summarize: I was Bella.) I'm suffering from BSO, birth scene overload. It all seems so hopeless. The woman is always suffering. She lacks control and agency; surrounded by men, she's told what's best for her and then chastised for making supposedly irrational demands. I just can't watch.
So I took a break from birth scenes to follow a lead (thanks @kristinrawls!) about last week's episode of AMC's The Walking Dead, a post-apocalyptic series about a group of survivors trying to avoid zombie bites. This proved to be terrible therapy for my BSO.
So I guess that's why the characters in the film keep talking about Bella's choice, huh? Weird stuff happens when you superimpose choice language into an anti-choice plotline. (Because of how it's only a "choice" when abortion is an option, too.) It's true that while the books create an anti-choice moral universe, nothing in the film itself suggests that Bella's options would have been limited even if her life wasn't in danger. But regardless of all that, everyone can agree that Bella's choices weren't appealing. Or, as Alex Cranz at fempop.com puts it—"'So women should choose eh? 'WELL HOW DO YOU LIKE THIS CHOICE?' was the feeling I was getting from the movie."
Which brings me to Game of Thrones, in which Daenerys "Dany" Targaryen experiences a birth situation that is (no joke!) eerily similar to—and just as bad as—Bella's.
As you've no doubt heard by now, Community is being taken off NBC's schedule indefinitely as of January. So I've decided to use this week's episode to talk about why this series, as beloved by the Internet as it ignored by Nieslen families, deserves to stay on TV.
We all know Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and others. Disney latched on to these classic fairy tales starting in the mid-20th century, and they began churning out princess after princess—treating these traditional stories as a marketers' wet dream, resting on the faith that people will continue to not only buy into these stories, but also into the massive amount of marketing and branding that surround them. But just because these stories remain popular doesn't mean they're any less unsettling when you start to pick them apart. Even with the multitude of remakes (television, movies, Broadway, etc...), very rarely do writers and producers seek to infuse a little imagination and creativity, absolving these stories from the tired tropes they've come to push. So it was with a bit of trepidation and some skepticism that I chose to watch ABC's new drama, Once Upon A Time. While the show hasn't worked out all the issues with "Disneyfied" fairy tales, it certainly is a step in the right direction.
To date, I've written 19 posts about representations of pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care in the media. I've proffered examples from a variety of television series and films: Up All Night, The Office, True Grit, Glee, Knocked Up, Look Who's Talking, The Rachel Zoe Project, Raising Hope, Modern Family, Parenthood, The Borgias, Dexter, Baby Boom, Life As We Know It, and Desperate Housewives. While a handful of these shows include women of color in title roles (none of the films do), only one of these women has children: Gaby Solis, a Latina character on Desperate Housewives.
This isn't to say there aren't any examples of pregnant/birthing/infant-caring women of color on TV, but it's uncommon—and the scant representations that exist are usually rather limiting, to say the least.
In today's complex television landscape, it's easy to argue that traditional conceptions of "parenthood" are changing as we see fewer heteronormative nuclear families, which reflects demographic and social changes in the real world. Yet a closer look at parenthood in contemporary scripted television reveals that when it comes to family life, the perspective of the cisgendered male is still privileged above all others.