She’s Having a Baby…on TV

Another in a series of posts by guest bloggers, today’s is from Kirthana Ramisetti, a.k.a. the force behind Pop Scribblings on Twitter. I had the good fortune to work with her over at I Fry Mine in Butter, and I highly recommend reading anything she has to say about television. Thanks, Kirthana!

It’s hard to do a “very special episode” of a character giving birth without devolving into eyerolling cliches. But once in awhile there are some memorable ones, and in honor the arrival of Emile Dean Maroon Beechey and his parents, here are some of TV’s best baby episodes.

The Cosby Show: I always appreciate when a TV show lets its pregnant character give birth in a hospital rather than come up with a contrivance that forces the poor woman to give birth somewhere ridiculous like a broken elevator or an airplane. The Cosby Show only allows one slight cliche when Sandra and Elvin surprise their families with the news of twins (“It’s a boy!” “Awww!” “And a girl!” “What?”).

But the nice thing about letting Sandra give birth in a normal way is that the focus of the episode was on the family moments, as Cliff and Clair react to being grandparents for the first time. The best part of the show was Cliff and Sandra’s sweet and funny conversation about becoming a parent. Sandra telling Cliff “I just want to say how much I’ve loved having you as a father” is genuinely touching, as is Cliff’s response: “Good parents are made by good children.”

(the scene begins at the 2:54 mark)

General Hospital: Since this is a soap opera, contrivance is the name of the game when it comes to characters having babies. General Hospital decided to have Felicia Jones go into labor at Luke Spencer’s nightclub, with all the townspeople except the baby’s father in attendance. Its fun and a little strange to watch the delivery turn into a viewing party for the rest of Port Charles. When Lucy Coe gripes that she doesn’t know what all the fuss over Felicia is about, considering she gave birth while stranded in a remote cabin during a snowstorm, you definitely know you’re watching a soap.

Friends: This show was actually on long enough to have three (!) birth episodes: Ross’ ex-wife Susan, Phoebe and Rachel. Phoebe’s was memorable because she was acting as a surrogate for her brother’s triplets, and Lisa Kudrow did a great job of expressing her mixed emotions while saying hello and goodbye to the babies she brought into the world.

The Office: I include The Office because I liked how the episode stayed true to its mockumentary format. If it was a worse show, Michael would have delivered Pam’s baby in the Dunder Mifflin conference room while Jim was held hostage in the warehouse by Dwight. Instead, the cameras stayed out of the delivery room and focused more on the “before” and the “after” aspects of Jim and Pam becoming parents.

Clip: http://www.hulu.com/watch/132485/the-office-baby-girl#s-p37-sr-i1

Glee: Quinn gives birth while a rival glee club performs “Bohemian Rhapsody”—only on Glee would a scene like this make sense. Vocal Adrenaline’s performance weirdly compliments the scenes of Quinn in labor (although sometimes too much so, such as when Quinn nonsensically screams “let me go!” the same time the glee club sings these words), making for one of the most riveting delivery scenes in recent memory.

Clip: http://www.twitvid.com/5QQAJ

Grey’s Anatomy: The surgeons at Seattle Grace broke out into song when they helped deliver Callie’s baby after she was injured in a car crash. (Of course, it was in Callie’s fevered imagination, but its fun to imagine that Meredith, McDreamy and company always sing Top 40 hits while in the OR.) Of course, you can’t talk about Grey’s without mentioning the classic moment when pregnant Bailey yells at George to “stop looking at [her] va-jay-jay.”

I Love Lucy: This first “very special episode” remains one of the best. Ricky and the Mertzes rehearsing taking Lucy to the hospital versus the actual mad scramble once she announces “it’s time” is still laugh-out-loud funny. The Arnazes might have been the first to blur the lines between reality and fiction when they arranged to have Lucille and Lucy give birth on the same day. They also blurred the lines again, in much more sentimental fashion, when they broke character and got emotional in the scene when Lucy tells Ricky she’s having a baby.

What are some of your favorite “she’s having her baby” episodes? What do you think about how television depicts delivery room scenes?

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Categories: Family, Pop Culture, popular culture

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3 Comments on “She’s Having a Baby…on TV”

  1. IrishUp
    September 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    Well, the panic-stricken-passing-out-dad trope could use a rest. Not only has it been done to death, but really, is anyone ever going to top Mary Tyler Moore?

    I think my favorite all time has to be Murphy Brown’s “Birth 101”, which put some nice spins on the standard tropes, and had I believe, TVs first >40yo first-time Mom (whole episode, couldn’t find scenes):

  2. evmaroon
    September 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Murphy Brown, good call!
    I have a strange memory of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, giving birth in the woods, but I could have made it up.

  3. September 13, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Co-sign with Murphy Brown.

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