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Oversympathetic Pregnancy

The Viking funeral for Alias started last night, as ABC burns off the once-great show's final episodes and consigns its bones to the deep.

Anyway, at the end of the second hour of the two-hour airing, Sydney Bristow finally gives birth. And my wife and I stare incredulously as the entire labor apparently takes two minutes, including a single push that delivers a relatively happy breech baby.

Television does births all the time, and it almost always gets it laughably wrong. My wife says the best TV birth she's seen is that episode of Friends where Rachel endlessly waits for her baby to arrive as other women come and go with easy labors. (Can you tell that both of my kids were, er, reluctant to greet the world?)

I understand that, with the exception of medical shows, TV shows are not really going to be about the often lengthy act of having a baby. They want to move on to the next plot. But for heaven's sake, at least make it seem vaguely real. All Alias really needed to do was cut back to the birth as if they'd been at it for a few minutes, telling Sydney to keep pushing -- stuff to indicate that it was an ordeal! At least a little bit!

At least the newborn babies they use are getting better. It used to be that every TV birth was greeted with a shot of a completely clean six-month-old baby. Let me tell you, if that thing was just born, the mother would not be smiling. Anyway, these days the newborn babies look a bit more newborn, and they're often made up to look wet and gooey, like real newborns do.

That's some progress. But when your best example of a real TV birth is Friends, it suggests that the TV industry isn't really giving it the old General Hospital try.


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