Modern Family: Baby on Board

24 May

Last night Modern Family took a big leap that won me over.  When I saw the episode title “Baby on Board” I thought, oh no, this is going to be another one of those sitcoms that makes having a baby look so easy.  The previous episodes hinted that Cam and Mitch were expecting a second baby, but completely glossed over the how part.  I figured they could gloss over this as they had that TV magic that causes babies to appear at the perfect time whenever the plot needs to introduce one.  The same magic that misleads impressionable naive viewers like myself  (pre 2008) into thinking that we too will be able to have a baby easily when we want.

I love the characters Cam and Mitch and I did want their dream to come true, but it seemed totally unrealistic for them to be having such an easy time adopting, twice!  The first baby arrived with almost no explanation as to what they went through.  I figured it was just my bitter infertile side coming out, so I chose to let the episode unfold rather than give in to my cynicism that gets in the way of me enjoying baby/birth-related TV episodes.  Resigned to see yet another couple have a happy ending, even if it seems unrealistic, I found myself totally surprised when the episode took a turn.  As Cam and Mitch were waiting as the birth mother gave birth, out of nowhere the grandmother appears and tells them in Spanish that the adoption is off and she is going to take care of the baby instead, rather than give it to strangers.  What?  Is this the cute and fuzzy sitcom I’ve come to know?  How could they build up the arrival of the new baby and then leave Cam and Mitch empty handed like that?  How could they build this perfect picture and then tear it down?  I was sad for the characters, but I found myself cheering inside.  Seeing mainstream TV characters crying in despair about how hard having a child is and how this just keeps happening to them was incredible.  I felt for that moment that they were speaking for me and for a moment validating and normalizing my everyday crazy talk.  At the same time it disproved the misperception/lie that adopting is an easy plan B as implied by the common phrase non-IFers like to give ” why don’t you just adopt?”.  Maybe after seeing this episode one less person will give that terrible unwelcome advice.

As they were describing their agony I felt for that that brief moment like the mainstream world acknowledged and recognized the grief and frustration of what setbacks to family building feel like.   Adoption loss, pregnancy loss, infertility- those of us experiencing these things can all relate to being angry, sad, frustrated, stressed out and beat up by this exhausting and demanding process that seems to take everything we have.  Ultimately I want to give kudos to the writers for forgoing the easy crowd pleasing baby arrival and keeping it real.  You guys get it.

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4 Responses to “Modern Family: Baby on Board”

  1. Mo May 25, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    I had the same feeling exactly through the whole episode, and was a bawling mess at the end. What they did was amazing!

  2. Katie May 25, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    I don’t watch the show, but I’ve been loosely following this particular part of the plot. As sad as it is, I’m happy to see that they are treating adoption more realistically the second time around.

  3. bodegabliss May 25, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    This season Parenthood did a really great of this as well. Two of the main characters have infertility and became close to a woman who was pregnant and planned to give up her child for adoption…but once she gave birth, she changed her mind. They portrayed the devastation and process almost perfectly. I was in awe. I’m glad to hear another well-watched show is doing the same.

  4. Misfit Mrs. May 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Nothing like baby magic in movies and TV to send one into a tizzy of doom. I am glad the show is making a move toward reality and hope that the trend of truth in trying continues across other shows. If only we really knew how hard this might be…

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