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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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71 Responses

  1. Julian Sanchez
    Julian Sanchez November 15, 2005 at 2:56 pm |

    “Six Feet Under’s Claire had an abortion without regret, headache, or the requisite moral punishment that seems to come with abortion on other shows.”

    I’m not sure I’d describe it quite that way; I recall a certain amount of agonizing about it after the fact.

  2. Slim Slow Slider
    Slim Slow Slider November 15, 2005 at 3:27 pm |

    …and what about in movies? all the mainstream blockbuster-y types seem to do the same thing, I think.

  3. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost November 15, 2005 at 3:53 pm |

    The only mainstream movie I can think of offhand in which a character has an abortion is Fast Times at Ridgemont High….. I can’t rmember how that turned out, but I dont’ remember it being disastrous….. Anyone remember more clearly?

    But the issue _is_ barely even visible on TV or movies….. Nevermind how rare it is to hear womens’ stories of having abortions in real life. That’s _another_ venue where we have to hear more about it….

  4. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 November 15, 2005 at 4:42 pm |

    Hey, Jill, maybe you want a Real Life TV show where we mount cameras in the rooms where the “procedures” are carried out. Heck, let’s turn in into a game show.

    “Sorry, your tribe of confused, distressed, financially-challenged, leftist-influenced women have voted you out of the clinic. No abortion for you.”

    By the way, the girl who had the abortion in Fast Times at Ridgemont Highhad no real problems after-the-fact. I believe she eventually married the nice, nerdy guy. The asshole who got her pregnant ended up getting arrested for scalping.

    A classic movie.

  5. Amba
    Amba November 15, 2005 at 4:44 pm |

    There’s an 80s-era Canadian TV show aimed at teenagers called Degrassi High. On of the subplots entailed a girl getting an abortion, and her identical twin sister, who was a devout Catholic, told her that she wasn’t OK with what she was doing, but that she still loved her and supported her. I doubt that they’d show anything like that on American TV targeted at the same demographic.

  6. Thomas
    Thomas November 15, 2005 at 4:59 pm |

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High — they don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Laughs aside, it was the real experience of the writer, and as I understand it, the movie was very true to the book. The studio would never let it out the door like that today. They’d rewrite, recut and reshoot until they killed it.

  7. Adrienne
    Adrienne November 15, 2005 at 5:03 pm |

    As far as mainstream network TV goes, the second season of the OC featured a bit on abortion when Teresa (Ryan’s ex-girlfriend from Chino) got pregnant–Kirsten (the mom) then revealed that she’d had an abortion when she and Sandy (the dad) had just gotten married.

    I knew my knowledge of teen pop culture would be good for something someday.

  8. Sally
    Sally November 15, 2005 at 5:10 pm |

    There’s High Fidelity. But it’s interesting that it’s a movie that talks about abortion from the point of view of a guy. A while back there was a discussion on an academic mailing list I subscribe to of pregnancy in pop music, and it was interesting that the only abortion song anyone could come up with was Ben Folds’s “Brick.” I can’t think of any songs by women about having an abortion.

    I don’t know if Cider House Rules counts, because ultimately that’s a movie about abortion. It’s not just that a character has one: the movie is basically a pro-choice polemic.

  9. Sally
    Sally November 15, 2005 at 5:19 pm |

    My knowledge of pop culture is better, because I know it’s the first season of The O.C.!

    It certainly seems, though, that Kirsten regrets her abortion. At least, she regrets the way she made the decision. And at the end of the talk, Theresa decides not to go through with the abortion she was planning to have. The storyline still hasn’t been resolved, actually: we still don’t know if the baby is Ryan’s, and he still doesn’t know that the baby exists.

    Grey’s Anatomy recently did the convenient miscarriage thing, although this time it was a convenient ectopic pregnancy. Words cannot express how much I hate that stupid cop-out of a plot.

  10. Holli
    Holli November 15, 2005 at 8:30 pm |

    “Degrassi,” the next-generation version of the 80′s show Amba remembers, has had at least one character have an abortion, and another who’s currently hiding her pregnancy from her parents.

    And there’s an episode of Everwood– I think in the second season– where we learn that Harold Abbot, the town doctor, provides abortions despite his religious beliefs, and that his father did too when he was Everwood’s doctor. It’s a bit preachy, but a pretty good episode overall.

    Abortion isn’t totally absent from network television, but it can’t seem to escape the Very Special Episode treatment.

  11. aeonsomnia
    aeonsomnia November 15, 2005 at 8:39 pm |

    Baby & Johnny in Dirty Dancing wouldn’t have ever found True Love if Penny, Johnny’s friend/dance partner, hadn’t needed an (illegal in 1963) abortion. The movie’s also notable for portraying an illegal abortion gone wrong (Penny’s); if Baby hadn’t rushed to get her doctor-father to fix up Penny, that character would’ve been in serious trouble. As far as regrets are concerned, Penny doesn’t express any regrets about her abortion.

    The IMDB has some listings for movies & TV that’ve portrayed or mentioned abortions.

  12. Sally
    Sally November 15, 2005 at 8:41 pm |

    “Degrassi,” the next-generation version of the 80’s show Amba remembers, has had at least one character have an abortion, and another who’s currently hiding her pregnancy from her parents.

    Yeah, and the show’s American network refused to show that episode.

    And there’s an episode of Everwood– I think in the second season– where we learn that Harold Abbot, the town doctor, provides abortions despite his religious beliefs, and that his father did too when he was Everwood’s doctor. It’s a bit preachy, but a pretty good episode overall.

    Didn’t a character on Everwood have an abortion, have no regrets, and then die in a fiery car wreck in the very next episode?

  13. Julie
    Julie November 15, 2005 at 8:51 pm |

    I read an article similar to this a few months ago, but it was written from an anti-abortion stance. I do find it interesting. My husband watches days of our lives, and I watch it if I’m home with him. One of the main characters had an abortion months ago and suffered horrible amonts of guilt afterward, got an infection and was told she can never again have children and lost her boyfriend because she hid it from him. Now there’s real life for you. Of course, this is a soap opera, so what do you expect? Much as I may personally dislike abortion, I’m really not into lying about it and trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. That only stigmatizes the women who have them and stops us from having honest conversations about how we can best help women.

  14. aeonsomnia
    aeonsomnia November 15, 2005 at 8:56 pm |

    Sorry for not including this in just one post, but Everlast sung “What It’s Like” several years ago, and some of the lyrics mentioned a teen girl having to make her way through anti-choice protesters to get an abortion.

    Hmm. Ben Folds Five & Everlast – there’s two men singing about abortions.

    Oh, in Usher’s song, “Confessions part 2″, Joe Budden (another rapper) raps (for Usher) about how he wants the woman pregnant by him to abort, or otherwise it’s ” ‘One hit to the stomach, She’s leakin’ it’ ” And of course, there’s that Nick Cannon song, “Can I Live”, where he shows up as a holy apparition begging his mother not to get an abortion.

    So, that’s 1-2-3-4 men singing about abortion; only the Everlast song is about the woman’s experiences & feelings re: an unplanned pregnancy. The other 3 guys make it all about them instead of the women.

    Oh, wait, there’s an anti-abortion song by Seals & Croft (2 men), too. Came out a year after Roe v. Wade, according to (I think) Michael Berube or someone at his blog. The song sunk like a rock.

    Really, though, surely there’s a woman that’s sung a song about this topic.

  15. Lauren
    Lauren November 15, 2005 at 10:14 pm |

    Grey’s Anatomy recently did the convenient miscarriage thing, although this time it was a convenient ectopic pregnancy. Words cannot express how much I hate that stupid cop-out of a plot.

    I was so going to write on that before I took a break from blogging.

  16. oudemia
    oudemia November 15, 2005 at 11:08 pm |

    I think Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Fast Times at Ridgemont Hight” is one of the last characters really to get an “abortion on demand without apology.” Claire doesn’t really work for me, since “Six Feet Under” had a habit of presenting those involved with abortion decisions (like Nate, on the male end) with dead children of varying ages representing the “lost lives.” Claire perhaps even holds her swaddled “dead baby” — I know she meets the now-dead Lisa in a graveyard and Lisa is holding the “baby” and even promises Claire that she’ll take care of it. I found the notion that it required care and tending (having been abandoned parentless into the netherworld) grating.

  17. Luna
    Luna November 15, 2005 at 11:23 pm |

    I remember on ER a couple years ago, Julie Delpy guest starred as Dr. Kovach’s mentally unbalanced, pathologically lying, kleptomaniac girlfriend. She told him she was pregnant, then told Abby she wasn’t, then Abby told Kovach, then Kovach broke up with her, and then it turned out she really was pregnant and got an abortion without him knowing.

    The lesson was, only crazy bitches get abortion, or something like that.

    Ooooh, Abby herself also had an abortion, but that was in her backstory. I guess it’s okay for main characters to make that choice, as long as they do it in their past.

  18. Jon C.
    Jon C. November 15, 2005 at 11:40 pm |

    Don’t forget last year’s “Vera Drake”, a film in which an abortionist in 50′s Britain is portrayed as near-saintly.

  19. Lauren
    Lauren November 15, 2005 at 11:52 pm |

    near-saintly

    Damn straight.

  20. Elizajoey
    Elizajoey November 16, 2005 at 12:46 am |

    Didn’t a character on Everwood have an abortion, have no regrets, and then die in a fiery car wreck in the very next episode?

    That was Jack and Bobby but it is from the same creator as Everwood – Greg Berlanti.

    FWIW and attempting to not spoiler anyone majorly and agreeing that it was dealt with in a conservative manner, the girl in Reunion had to have the child because of future storylines it seems.

    The character on Degrassi – The Next Generation who had the abortion was Manny whose family were Catholic. However, the abortion hasn’t been mentioned since (probably because The N was too freaked to show it even though it can show the episodes that deal with rape, drugs and school shootings) except for when another character has used the pregnancy as an insult.

    I would love to see an episode of a TV show where *shock horror* – the women doesn’t regret having an abortion and she also isn’t portrayed as ‘selfish bitch.’ I’m dreaming right?

  21. The Raving Atheist
    The Raving Atheist November 16, 2005 at 12:56 am |

    In the first episode of West Wing, President Barlett revealed that he spent eight months traveling the country in a private crusade trying to discourage teenage girls from having abortions. That must be common behavior by pro-choice politicians, who actually disapprove of the practice but just don’t want the government involved. I wonder what he said to the girls?

  22. randomliberal/Robert
    randomliberal/Robert November 16, 2005 at 1:03 am |

    Several years back, “Third Watch” did a story-arch in which the 40ish woman cop (I don’t remember any names, I didn’t watch the show that much) with two or three kids gets pregnant again. She and her husband can’t afford another child, but the husband insists that she carry the pregnancy to term. Sometime in the first trimester she was chasing a guy who ran into a subway tunnel, hid, then as she moved past him he knocked her down and hit her in the stomach with a crowbar, then took off. She was wearing kevlar, so she wasn’t seriously hurt. She went to her ob/gyn and asked if her getting hit had killed the fetus. The doctor told her no. The cop went home and told her husband that she had been hit on the job, and the hit had caused her to miscarry. Very soon thereafter, she had an abortion. She did later feel guilt and remorse, but I’m pretty sure it was mostly over lying to her husband, not having the abortion itself.

  23. That Girl
    That Girl November 16, 2005 at 7:26 am |

    The song Slide (also sung by a man) is also about abortion. I think your being a little too hard on these tv shows like desperate houswives and Grey’s. Although I too hate the convienant miscarriage, as Eva Longrain pointed out, many pregnancies DO end in miscarriage and it’s possible to be conflicted about your decision, to be both relieved and upset about it – whether you intended to have an abortion or not.
    My friends and I had a long discussion once about our abortions and miscarriages and the truth is that our miscarriages stay with us far longer (whether we were going to go through with the pregnancy or not) and involve much more guilt than our abortions do.
    Yet on tv most miscarriages are portrayed as being times when characters have dodged a bullet and by the next episode they have gotten over it – which physically does not happen for either a miscarriage OR an abortion and mentally probably not so much either.

  24. Elizajoey
    Elizajoey November 16, 2005 at 8:45 am |

    Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls?

  25. Amba
    Amba November 16, 2005 at 9:52 am |

    Elizajoey, I was talking about the old-school Degrassi show, not the one that’s currently in production. As I recall, the twin who got the abortion didn’t suffer any terrible repurcussions. The abortion subplot was dealt with over the course of several episodes: the pregnant twin had to contend with aggressive anti-abortion protesters, for example. PBS had to do a lot of cutting to make Degrassi acceptable to an American audience.

  26. Jon C.
    Jon C. November 16, 2005 at 10:10 am |

    I would love to see an episode of a TV show where *shock horror* – the women doesn’t regret having an abortion and she also isn’t portrayed as ’selfish bitch.’ I’m dreaming right?

    I think this kind of sentiment is a bit silly. First of all, if it’s predicated on some sort of suspicion that Hollywood is anything less than full-throatedly pro-choice, then you are in fact dreaming. As I think this thread has shown, there is much more frequent (and more positive) portrayal of abortion in popular culture than there is of, say, gun ownership. Millions of law-abiding Americans own guns, yet I can’t recall ever seeing a gun owner on TV or in the movies (who wasn’t a cop or a soldier) portrayed in a positive light. But supporters of the 2nd Amendment generally don’t gripe about the failure of Hollywood to promote a pro-gun agenda.

  27. Jon C.
    Jon C. November 16, 2005 at 10:12 am |

    ::sigh:: I accidentally block-quoted my own comments in the above post rather than the ones I intended to quote…

  28. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere November 16, 2005 at 10:38 am |

    I’d be curious to know how many women writers there are in television vs the number of men writing for shows. I know a lot of decisions can be made higher up than the writers (of course), and also men could write about women’s various experiences of abortion, but I’d hazard a guess that if there were more women writers for TV there would be a more varied selection of stories including abortion.

    Also, regarding Jon C’s comment: You don’t think the cops and soldiers portrayed on TV don’t implicitly promote a pro-gun agenda, in general, even if they aren’t explicitly exercising their 2nd amendment rights? The point being: Lots of guns on TV are used in a ‘positive light’. How many abortions are seen that way?

  29. Sally
    Sally November 16, 2005 at 10:43 am |

    As I think this thread has shown, there is much more frequent (and more positive) portrayal of abortion in popular culture than there is of, say, gun ownership. Millions of law-abiding Americans own guns, yet I can’t recall ever seeing a gun owner on TV or in the movies (who wasn’t a cop or a soldier) portrayed in a positive light.

    You must be kidding. The last positive portrayal of a civilian gun owner that I can remember was the day before yesterday on Prison Break, when the crusading lawyers tried to hold off the psycho bad guy with their gun. The same day on Wife Swap, a nice family that did a lot of hunting was swapped with a bunch of vegans who came off as total loons. So that’s two in the past week.

  30. Sina
    Sina November 16, 2005 at 11:27 am |

    Good discussion.
    Just to throw in a song about abortion sung by a woman:Lost Woman Song, by Ani DiFranco, form the first album.
    Also, I think Bitch magazine did a great piece about abortions in television-land not too long ago.

  31. piny
    piny November 16, 2005 at 12:06 pm |

    What everyone else said about cops. Don’t forget Bree on Desperate Housewives.

  32. Jon C.
    Jon C. November 16, 2005 at 1:05 pm |

    I wouldn’t say Hollywood’s failure to focus on abortion to your satisfaction is “gutless”. I’m sure we could we all come up with lots of social issues that are neglected to one extent or another in pop culture, but I don’t know to what extent that’s indicative of fear of advertiser backlash versus just a general calculation to focus more on other issues viewers are more interested in.

    I brought up civilian gun owners basically to illustrate this same point, not to start an anecdotal back-and-forth over whether they’re generally portrayed positively or not.

  33. piny
    piny November 16, 2005 at 1:14 pm |

    I wouldn’t say Hollywood’s failure to focus on abortion to your satisfaction is “gutless”. I’m sure we could we all come up with lots of social issues that are neglected to one extent or another in pop culture, but I don’t know to what extent that’s indicative of fear of advertiser backlash versus just a general calculation to focus more on other issues viewers are more interested in.

    You mean, portraying characters whose experiences speak to the lives of the audience? Given the number of women who’ve had abortions, it’s a conspicuous absence in Hollywood’s stories. It’s like leaving out divorce, the death of a child, or serious illness.

  34. Sally
    Sally November 16, 2005 at 1:24 pm |

    That would make sense, Jon, if they ignored the existence of unplanned pregnancy. But they don’t, at all. Unplanned pregnancies happen on T.V. constantly, because they make for good drama. Often, the woman even considers having an abortion. But almost always, she either has a convenient miscarriage or has the baby. And I do think that this requires explanation.

    I’m having trouble coming up with a show that I watch that hasn’t had an unplanned pregnancy that didn’t end in abortion. Veronica Mars hasn’t, and I don’t think Prison Break has. Ones that have: Gilmore Girls, the O.C. (as discussed above), Grey’s Anatomy, Lost. I’ve stopped watching Reunion, but that had an unplanned pregnancy not resulting in abortion. And not a single show that I watch has shown a woman aborting an unplanned pregnancy. You really think that people who make T.V. aren’t avoiding the issue of abortion?

  35. EricP
    EricP November 16, 2005 at 1:47 pm |

    The fact is the networks are businesses whose only goal is to make money. They couldn’t care less about realistic representations of life unless they can turn a profit from it. There is no money to be made in showing women choosing to have abortions. There is however the possibility of people tuning out or advertisers shifting their spending if they do. At the very least, they would get more complaints for having abortion featured than they would if the avoid the topic.

    It is not a matter of having guts or not. If there was no risk or if there was enough money in it to counter the risk, they would show anything. Absent that, they have a legal obligation to maximize shareholder value.

  36. piny
    piny November 16, 2005 at 1:53 pm |

    More unplanned pregnancies: Joan of Arcadia, ER (several times), Battlestar Galactica (sorta), Desperate Housewives, Star Trek: TNG, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, X-Files, Angel, Gilmore Girls, House, Rome, Party of Five, Rescue Me, and Sex and the City. Those are just the ones I remember, and I don’t watch that much TV.

    One abortion I do remember: Helen Mirren’s character in Prime Suspect.

  37. piny
    piny November 16, 2005 at 1:55 pm |

    The fact is the networks are businesses whose only goal is to make money. They couldn’t care less about realistic representations of life unless they can turn a profit from it. There is no money to be made in showing women choosing to have abortions. There is however the possibility of people tuning out or advertisers shifting their spending if they do. At the very least, they would get more complaints for having abortion featured than they would if the avoid the topic.

    Yes, but by telling stories that women can actually relate to, they might increase their loyal audience. You’re also pretending that television responds to popular belief, rather than having any power to shape it, and that’s not true.

  38. piny
    piny November 16, 2005 at 1:55 pm |

    Oh, and Roseanne.

  39. piny
    piny November 16, 2005 at 2:01 pm |

    And come to think of it, the ST:TNG had a potentially interesting sidenote on abortion: when Deanna Troi becomes pregnant with some alien thing, the officers call a meeting and are discussing what to do about it right above her head for several minutes until she breaks in all, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hi, remember me? Adult human being.”

  40. Sally
    Sally November 16, 2005 at 2:14 pm |

    One abortion I do remember: Helen Mirren’s character in Prime Suspect.

    Yeah, but that’s (1) British and (2) like the worst episode of Prime Suspect ever.

    Absent that, they have a legal obligation to maximize shareholder value.

    Gosh. How did I miss that the reason there are no abortions on T.V. is that it would actually be illegal? I didn’t realize that you got to make up new laws. If I spend three months in law school, can I have that superpower, too?

    Look. The entertainment industry pretty consistently underestimnates its audience. For years, fashion magazines wouldn’t put black models on their covers, not, according to them, because they were racist, but because white women just wouldn’t buy magazines with black models on the cover. Then a magazine had the guts to try it, and lo and behold, it turned out that it didn’t hurt sales. Now, there’s nothing unusual about seeing a black model on the cover of a fashion magazine, because consumers are actually not as shitty as the industry thought they were. I’m not convinced that it would have hurt ratings if Christina on Grey’s Anatomy had gone through with her abortion, rather than conveniently losing the baby. I’m sure that the Parent’s Family Whats-its loons would have had a fit, but you know, Grey’s Anatomy is probably not a good show for elementary school kids, anyway. I don’t have any problem with them pointing that out. I’d like to the think that the audience for Grey’s Anatomy is comprised of grown-ups who realize that women do sometimes have abortions.

    So yeah, I think it’s gutless. I’m not saying that I’m going to sue. But I think it stinks. But I also think it’s spineless that you almost never see a religious believer on T.V. (or not as anything but a crazy), so I’m an equal-opprtunity annoyed-with-T.V. person.

  41. EricP
    EricP November 16, 2005 at 2:47 pm |

    Yes, but by telling stories that women can actually relate to, they might increase their loyal audience.

    Quite possibly. From their point of view, it is a gamble though. Ask yourself would you tune into a show on a regular basis just because it featured a realistic presentation of a woman having an abortion. I doubt most people would. A one-time storyline (I had an abortion, I have no regrets isn’t something that by definition can milked for long) would not be enough to improve a bad show or improve a good show.

    You’re also pretending that television responds to popular belief, rather than having any power to shape it, and that’s not true.

    What we see on TV are the shows that make the networks the most money. It responds to what is popular – I’m not sure how that tracks with popular belief. As you mention, TV does have the power to shape belief and perception. The TV networks however have no obligation to use this power in any way except to make money.

  42. Thomas
    Thomas November 16, 2005 at 2:49 pm |

    EricP, the obligation to maximize shareholder value does not remove their ability to make artistic choices. In fact, if ever anything were covered by the Business Judgment Rule, it is the artistic choice of a media company. Showtime, in particular, has openly chosen controversy as a branding tool. One could just as reasonably adopt “telling real stories, that real women can relate to” as a brand identity. It might not work, but there is no good argument that management is barred from doing so.

  43. Sally
    Sally November 16, 2005 at 2:59 pm |

    A one-time storyline (I had an abortion, I have no regrets isn’t something that by definition can milked for long) would not be enough to improve a bad show or improve a good show.

    Again, you’re missing the point. The shows already do unplanned-pregnancy, will-she-or-won’t-she plots. When it comes time to end those plots, instead of having the woman have an abortion, she has a convenient miscarriage. Sometimes, as on The O.C., she chooses to have the baby and then disappears, because a baby would alter the characters’ lives in the same way that a baby changes real people’s lives. I’m not talking about adding a new element to T.V. shows. I’m talking about having a more-realistic resolution to plots that are already all over T.V.

    One problem with the convenient miscarriage plot is that it’s painful for women who have had miscarriages. I’m told that it’s no fun to have your extremely difficult life experience reduced to a cheap resolution for a storyline that’s run its course.

  44. EricP
    EricP November 16, 2005 at 3:05 pm |

    Showtime, in particular, has openly chosen controversy as a branding tool. One could just as reasonably adopt “telling real stories, that real women can relate to” as a brand identity.

    The problem is the big networks have already invested heavily into their brand identity. They’ve branded themselves meat and potatoes of television. They want to largest audience as possible which means catering the lowest common denominator and offending as few people as possible. They are safe, predictable and boring.

    BTW, except for a couple of shows, I haven’t watched any of the major networks regularly in years.

  45. Sally
    Sally November 16, 2005 at 3:19 pm |

    BTW, except for a couple of shows, I haven’t watched any of the major networks regularly in years.

    This doesn’t entirely surprise me.

    ABC has completely rebranded itself in the past couple of years. Now, they do “edgy” stuff like Desperate Housewives and Lost.

  46. EricP
    EricP November 16, 2005 at 5:58 pm |

    ABC has completely rebranded itself in the past couple of years. Now, they do “edgy” stuff like Desperate Housewives and Lost.

    Actually Lost is one of the ones I watch. I’ve been curious about DW but missed the first season. It’s on DVD now so I might check it out and get caught up.

  47. EricP
    EricP November 16, 2005 at 6:11 pm |

    What we see on TV are the shows that make the networks the most money. It responds to what is popular – I’m not sure how that tracks with popular belief. As you mention, TV does have the power to shape belief and perception. The TV networks however have no obligation to use this power in any way except to make money.

    BTW, to add to my previous statement, since they respond to money, they can be influenced. This site is obviously well known in the feminist community and has some reach. Why not start a letter writing campaign on this issue? Tell the networks that this situation bothers you. Give executives who might personally want to do a story like this something to point to support them.

  48. Thomas
    Thomas November 16, 2005 at 6:25 pm |

    The problem is the big networks have already invested heavily into their brand identity. They’ve branded themselves meat and potatoes of television.

    But if they decide to change that, it’s a business decision of the kind that courts universally recognize as within the purview of management, right? I’m not arguing the business logic. You raised the legal obligation to maximize shareholder value. I’m pointing out that the law gives them wide latitude to make artistic decisions, such that they could say as you are, “that’s not a decision we can make the business case for,” but they could not say with any honesty, “counsel has advised us that if we do that, we are exposing ourselves to liability for failure to maximize shareholder value.”

  49. jeffliveshere
    jeffliveshere November 16, 2005 at 7:57 pm |

    Jon C:

    I brought up civilian gun owners basically to illustrate this same point, not to start an anecdotal back-and-forth over whether they’re generally portrayed positively or not.

    Well, if yer not so into the anecdotal back-and-forth, perhaps you should avoid statements like:

    …yet I can’t recall ever seeing…

    Seems sort of strange to address a discussion that started out basically anecdotal, give us your anecdote, and then accuse people of doing the anecdotal back-and-forth…

  50. EricP
    EricP November 16, 2005 at 8:02 pm |

    You raised the legal obligation to maximize shareholder value. I’m pointing out that the law gives them wide latitude to make artistic decisions, such that they could say as you are, “that’s not a decision we can make the business case for,” but they could not say with any honesty, “counsel has advised us that if we do that, we are exposing ourselves to liability for failure to maximize shareholder value.”

    My original point was that their only obligation was to maximize shareholder value. They have other rights but this is their only obligation. Whether they are legally on the hook via lawsuits or simply run the risk of being replaced if revenue drops, the results are the same.

    Obviously they do have latitude to manage the company. If not they would spend all them time in court fighting shareholder lawsuits every time they made a long term decision or initiated PR campaigns that doesn’t have immediate gratification. For example Walmart spent a lot of money helping out Katrina victims but received a lot of praise as a result – you can’t directly quantify that. Executives are chosen by the shareholders to make day to day decisions.

    NBC would be completely free to decide that they are now the bikini channel and all female characters on all shows would henceforth appear in a bikini. Or CBS could decide to be the homosexual channel and every show would now have at least one gay/lesbian character. If the earnings per share went up the execs would get nice bonuses. If they tanked, there would be new execs.

    Anyway you slice it, the bottom line is the bottom line. If you want to change what appears on television you need to give them a financial reason to do so.

  51. Peter
    Peter November 16, 2005 at 8:08 pm |

    Back in March 2004, there was an episode of the West Wing (“The Supremes”) where Glenn Close plays a prospective liberal Supreme Court nominee. In the course of her questioning by the White House staff, she starts ticking off some of her personal history, and tosses into the list “Oh, and I had an abortion.” After Toby and Josh pick their chins up off the floor, she says that it was while she was in law school, and yes, that was AFTER Roe v. Wade. The debate among the staff gets into the politics of the whole thing quite well, IMHO, with CJ (if memory serves) asking why we (the Bartlet admin) should be afraid of nominating someone who had the same legal medical procedure that many other American women have had. Good episode, if you can catch it on Bravo re-runs or on a season 5 DVD.

  52. billy
    billy November 16, 2005 at 9:27 pm |

    If a man got a woman pregnant and left her, people would look down on that man for not being more careful to prevent the pregnancy and/or for not bothering with helping to raise the child.

    And so they should.

    When a woman, who knows she can get pregnant, doesn’t take the extra precaution to drastically reduce her chance for an unwanted pregnancy – not to mention disease – by encouraging her partner to use protection, or providing her own (which is to be responsible) then society looks down on that woman.

    And so they should.

    Our society should not encourage people to take decisions that could mean the difference in life or death – whether it be an aborted fetus or an infection of HIV – with a casual, trivial and sophmoric attitude.

    Abortion should not be illegal because abortion is a medical procedure and as such there are times when we may need it, but we should work toward making those needs less, not more. And achieving that goal can be attained by challenging others to be responsible for themselves.

    You have every right to have an abortion, but you have no right to feel good about it. And just as protesters can yell anti-war slogans at injured US Veterans, so can protestors remind young ladies just what an abortion is as they see it.

    But all of this assumes that noth sides of the debate can be reasonable enough to agree that our absolute best situation regarding abortion would be that of a rare, yet understandable thing – not a daily occurrence amongst an irresponsible citizenry.

  53. EricP
    EricP November 16, 2005 at 9:34 pm |

    You have every right to have an abortion, but you have no right to feel good about it. And just as protesters can yell anti-war slogans at injured US Veterans, so can protestors remind young ladies just what an abortion is as they see it.

    Having visited other feminist blogs, I have to say this smells/sounds like a troll.

  54. billy
    billy November 16, 2005 at 9:43 pm |

    My point in the example you cite is that protestors yell all sorts of things because they have that right. Whether we agree with what they are saying, they have that right.

    I’m not trolling, I’m merely suggesting that the reason we see so little “pro-abortion” television on broadcast television is because broadcast television obviously reflects the attitude of the largest possible sample of the US.

    You can’t sell products to people who are offended by the message being subsidized by the product. So you either A) avoid the topic or B) attack the topic. Doesn’t seem so bad that we are, collectively as a nation, pretty even keeled when it comes to abortion laws.

    Why encourage the activity?

  55. billy
    billy November 16, 2005 at 9:51 pm |

    if you think about it from a femminist point of view, why would it not follow that a society that encourages behavior from everyone that results in a healthier population of women, with regard to sexually transmitted diseases alone – not to mention, cervical cancer and chronic kidney infections, etc and also a society that encourages such behaivor may begin to shift back to society where the man takes more responsiblity for his family…why wouldn’t that situation be a victory for women?

  56. Sally
    Sally November 16, 2005 at 10:01 pm |

    Gosh. I guess the majority of Americans are in favor of all the other stuff that characters on Grey’s Anatomy have done, such as having drunken one-night-stands with guys they picked up in bars, cheating on their husband with his best friend, or performing unauthorized autopsies. Or maybe you’re just kind of dumb.

  57. EricP
    EricP November 16, 2005 at 10:27 pm |

    I’m merely suggesting that the reason we see so little “pro-abortion” television on broadcast television is because broadcast television obviously reflects the attitude of the largest possible sample of the US.

    I don’t know anyone who is “pro-abortion”. No one I have ever heard of suggests that women should have as many abortions as possible. The fact is that most women don’t like going to a gynocologist let alone going to one and having tools used to open their vagina and having instruments inserted into her uterus to cause an abortion. You aren’t talking about a comfortable and enjoyable experience. At the end of the day, many women have had abortions and don’t tear themselves to pieces with guilt. My argument is that you can’t expect huge corporations to respond to anything but the bottom line. That doesn’t mean in any way that the “largest possible sample” doesn’t support the right to an abortion without beating up on yourself. Every poll I’ve ever read supports abortion rights.

  58. piny
    piny November 17, 2005 at 1:54 am |

    Gosh. I guess the majority of Americans are in favor of all the other stuff that characters on Grey’s Anatomy have done, such as having drunken one-night-stands with guys they picked up in bars, cheating on their husband with his best friend, or performing unauthorized autopsies. Or maybe you’re just kind of dumb.

    Hush. You know that every time a feminist is snarky, some woman somewhere fails to conceive.

    If America’s against irresponsible, unhealthy, female sexual behavior, why would they be anti-abortion but gung-ho about all the fucking in teevee land? Melrose Place, Desperate Housewives, Temptation Island….

  59. billy
    billy November 17, 2005 at 9:38 am |

    My only point here is that abortion is a hot-button issue. When that issue is dealt with on broadcast television it is inevitable that a portion of your audience is going to be angered. How best to avoid the fallout from such an issue? Avoid it.

    That’s why we seldom see abortion topics on broadcast television – the producers avoid the headache.

    If that topic was dealt with on broadcast television, I personally, would like to see it dealt with in a way that encouraged people to make choices that would reduce their chance for needing that procedure. Other people would like to see it dealt with in a way that says, “well, if you screw up, there is a safety valve and you shouldn’t feel bad about using it.” My perspective is, “if you screw up, there is safety valve. Seriously consider your choices. Make you choice. Know that this was preventable. Strive to prevent it from happening again. I think most people feel that way.

    Yes, Eric, people widely support the right for a woman to have an abortion. I have not suggested otherwise. When I say “pro-abortion” I am refering to one-sided presentations of the situation. If television deals with the subject, I think it would be best to deal with it in an honest manner – by dealing with the downsides of that choice. In no way would I think it appropriate to only present the idea that it’s all roses or all evil. The impressions that are being made by television are most made on younger viewers. This is why I feel that if the subject is dealt with, it should be presented 1) as something between a woman and her doctor, 2) something that is not easy emotionally 3) something that can lead to problems later in life and 4) associated with behavior that can lead to STDs.

    From my perspective, anything less is dishonest and anything more (on either side) is partisan. For the most part, abortion is an elective medical procedure that should be left between the patient and the doctor and any good doctor will be upfront about the potential riskes involved in that decision. Nothing more, nothing less. Even if television could be that even handed, you’d still manage to piss off a portion of the audience – and network producers won’t risk it.

    With regard to the original subject of the essay, it is my position that we do not see programs on television that deal with abortion because most people, while argreeing that abortion should be a choice, are uncomfortable with the subject. If a show deals with the subject and is not careful with it, the show runs the risk of alienating its viewers. So, producers have a choice – avoid it and keep the ad revenue flowing or attempt it.

    Piny – I never said anyone was anti-abortion. With regard to the subject and shows you are using as an example: no one is gung-ho about the sexual situations that take place in those shows. While viewers may disagree, most of them don’t hold a very strong, emotional opinion regarding one-night stands or sexual relationships outside of marriage. Which is to say, while some people may hold the belief that sex outside of marriage is wrong or isn’t a good idea, most of these people have a live and let live attitude about it. Same for those who don’t think there is a problem with sex outside of marriage. These are not hot button issues like abortion.

    Abortion is an emotionally charged issue for many people, and as such, network television is wise – economically speaking – to avoid the bully pullpit.

    I’m not advocating extreme positons on either side of the field. I merely think that we would be better off if society took an approach to the subject that reduced the number of times the act took place. A society who encourages behaivor that reduces the instances of abortion is a society that would also reduce instances of involuntary single mothers, STDs, etc.

    Right now, network television avoids the subject, which, to me is better than encouraging it through feel good attitudes that impress upon young women that it’s a good idea and it’s also a damn sight better than attacking people for having one and making the situation worse.

    I feel it’s a fine line. When I say people should look down on it, I mean that if you have a close friend in that situation, you should be supportive of the decision but as a friend you should also remind that person to be more careful in the future and act more responsibly. That’s what friend’s to for one another – they encourage each other to be better people. Even if you have no problem at all with abortion, why wouldn’t you want to remind your friend that unprotected sex can lead to life altering problems – HIV, herpes, etc. – not to mention the likelyhood of an unwanted pregnancy that can result in having to make such a hard decision?

  60. billy
    billy November 17, 2005 at 10:15 am |

    Gosh. I guess the majority of Americans are in favor of all the other stuff that characters on Grey’s Anatomy have done, such as having drunken one-night-stands with guys they picked up in bars, cheating on their husband with his best friend, or performing unauthorized autopsies. Or maybe you’re just kind of dumb.

    Sally – I’m not familiar with Grey’s Anatomy but can I assume that the subjects you list are dealt with in such a way that the resulting outcomes aren’t pleasant? If that’s the case, I would say that most people would have no problem watching those situations on television when the outcome is such that shows the results of those actions to be negative. This would reinforce that such behavior is a negative. Does this show encourage the actions you listed or are these actions associated with negative outcomes?

    Are these behaviors dealt with realistically? Are they placed in the moral category that could be considered acceptable to most Americans? If not, why not? Is there a larger moral situation to consider or do the writers leave the morality to the audience?

    This is a fascinating conversation to have – abortion and television – but it is a difficult conversation to have and it’s a conversation that can only move forward if we all strive to think critically and not resort to name calling.

    I see the definition of this argument to be – abortion dilemmas are rarely, if ever, presented on television. Why? Should they be? If they are, how should they be handled? Should we argue from the position of a society who encourages behaivor that can be risky (especially to women) or should we argue from a position of a society that encourages people to be more responsible when it comes their sexual desires? What does the most good for the society? I don’t see this issue as a debate over the legality of abortion.

    If you were writing for a television show, how would you handle the issue? What kind of message would you want to impress upon your audience?

  61. billy
    billy November 17, 2005 at 11:20 am |

    Problem is, that’s not really accurate. Sure, abortion can lead to problems later in life, but for most women it doesn’t — and childbirth is more associated with depression and other problems than abortion is. That’s not a very good argument against having kids, though. Similarly, having a baby is also associated with behavior that can lead to STDs. Should we lecture the audience every time a TV character gets pregnant and decides to give birth?

    Taking measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies does, by its nature, aid in the prevention of STDs. If you are careful to protect yourself against herpes, you will be highly successful in protecting yourself from an unwanted pregnancy.

    I agree that ideally, TV would present responsible sexual activity. But what’s being omitted here is that for many women, abortion is a responsible choice, just as for many women childbirth is. In my ideal situation, abortion would be presented as exactly what it is: a legitimate medical choice that millions of women make, just like childbirth. I’m perfectly fine with abortion being presented as a complicated choice, because it is for many women

    I never said it was an irresponsible choice but I do feel it is an unfortunate choice. But it is a choice where the frequency can be reduced by more responsible sexual behavior (on the part of both men and women). Wouldn’t it be easier to have sexual habits that increase the likelihood of you not having to make that choice? Wouldn’t be better off in the long run?

    similarly, I wish childbirth was presented as a complicated and emotional choice, because it is, too. Portraying having kids as a cakewalk while ignoring abortion, and presenting miscarriage solely as the result of some sort of dramatic fall down the stairs/punch in the stomach that the character gets over by the next episode is completely dishonest to women’s actual experiences.

    I agree completely and your point furthers my point. These topics should be presented with the good, the bad and the ugly.

    No offense, Billy, but that sounds like the kind of friend I really don’t need. Women aren’t stupid — when we have unintended pregnancies and/or have abortions, we’re perfectly aware that it’s important to act responsibly in the future. We know that sex can lead to pregnancy, HIV, STIs, etc — we aren’t clueless children.

    Never said women were stupid. I’m surprised that you wouldn’t want a friend who is honest enough and cares for you enough to be supportive and to also remind you to make an effort to make better decisions in the future. If you have a friend who cares for you, you are more likely to act responsibly if for no other reason than to not let that person down.

    When someone is faced with a difficult decision, the last thing they need is a “be more careful in the future” lecture. Imagine, for example, that your friend is driving, runs a red light, and gets in a bad car accident. Would it really be necessary to tell them, “In the future, you need to be more careful about running red lights.” Of course not. They probably know.

    While your friend is making the decision, be supportive. Once it’s happened and time has passed and that friend gets back to a normal routine, I think it would be a good idea to impress upon theat person the importance of more careful. There is nothing wrong with loving, constructive criticism. What if your friend is too insecure to insist her partner use a condom? You may never know that unless you have the conversation…and if you have the conversation, you may be the support she needs to deal with that situation in the future. I would never lecture a friend, nor do I suggest anyone else do. We all make mistakes, but the support and love of friends and family helps us to not repeat those mistakes…and that includes pointing out the obvious, expressing concern and being supportive.

    Imagine, for example, that your friend is driving, runs a red light, and gets in a bad car accident. Would it really be necessary to tell them, “In the future, you need to be more careful about running red lights.” Of course not. They probably know.

    Once that friend has healed and is back on his way, you’re damn straight I’d tell him to be more careful – whether that meant to stop yapping on the phone, quit playing with the iPod, whatever. I don’t want him to get killed and I surely don’t want to get killed when he’s behind the wheel. It’s good-natured ribbing that’s taken to heart.

    Yeah, they probably know that, but ensuring that they do shows that you actually have an interest in their well-being.

    Never do I assume my friends are stupid nor do I assume they need a lecture from me but I do point out that I love and care for them and sometimes they need to be a little more careful. And I expect my friends to treat me the same way. If they don’t, are they truly my friends or just people I hang out with?

  62. Sally
    Sally November 17, 2005 at 11:28 am |

    Sally – I’m not familiar with Grey’s Anatomy but can I assume that the subjects you list are dealt with in such a way that the resulting outcomes aren’t pleasant? If that’s the case, I would say that most people would have no problem watching those situations on television when the outcome is such that shows the results of those actions to be negative.

    The unauthorized autopsy is an unmitigated good: it turns out that the condition that killed the guy is genetic, and without intervention it would eventually have killed his daughter, who was the one who forbade them to do an autopsy in the first place. The one night stand is mixed: it turns out that the guy she picked up is her supervisor at the job she’s about to start, which is awkward, but they end up dating. The adultury is shown to have hurt the woman and her husband.

    What kind of message would you want to impress upon your audience?

    I don’t think that T.V. is in the business of impressing moral lessons upon its audience. I don’t think that Desperate Housewives was trying to say that it’s groovy to take the ritalin thats been prescribed to your child and use it to give yourself more energy. The show has faith that we can sympathize with the stressed-out mother who would do that without approving of her choice. I don’t think Prison Break is advocating bank robbery or organizing a mass escape from prison, even though the entire premise of the show asks us to believe that the main character robbed a bank and is breaking out of prison for worthy and altruistic reasons. (Prison Break may well be the goofiest, most improbable show on T.V., though, so maybe it gets a pass on that account.)

    I think that at its best, T.V. makes us empathize with other people and understand their dilemmas, even if we don’t approve of the choices they make. This act of empathy is, I think, a good in and of itself. I’m not going to change my mind about the death penalty, for instance, but it’s useful for me to think about what makes people support the death penalty, rather than just thinking that they’re evil, crappy people who aren’t as morally evolved as me.

    Out of curiosity, do you watch much T.V., Billy?

  63. billy
    billy November 17, 2005 at 12:19 pm |

    Out of curiosity, do you watch much T.V., Billy?

    Very selectively and not very often. Few dramas, the Simpson’s (who doesn’t watch the Simpson’s, right?), etc. I’d say that I average about six hours a week in front of the television. For no real lofty reasons other than A) I’m not terribly interested and B) I’m a video editor, so I get enough of looking at a television at work.

    I don’t think that T.V. is in the business of impressing moral lessons upon its audience. I don’t think that Desperate Housewives was trying to say that it’s groovy to take the ritalin thats been prescribed to your child and use it to give yourself more energy.

    I didn’t imply that TV should impress moral lessons upon its audience. I asked what kind of message. So, what do you think the message is concerning Ritalin in Desperate Housewives? Does this decision (to use Ritalin) make things better or worse for the characters? Do the benefits to the mother outweigh the negatives to the family (if any)? What value judgements are being made if any with regard to the positive and negative outcomes?

    I can’t comment on Prison Break as I have never seen it. I did see a few episodes of Oz when I was in college and I can say that the show, while being violent and, at times, repulsive, certainly didn’t glorify actions that would land you in prison – mostly by showing how ruthless prison can be. Within the context of Oz, violence, man on man rape, etc., is a vehicle used for conveying the message that going to jail is not a cool – or fun – thing.

    It’s not that television does or does not portray certain acts, but it’s more to how television portays those acts. A show about a white family who burns crosses in the yards of black families would not be an acceptable show. A show about a black family, dealing in one or two episodes with a cross being burned in their yard, would be an acceptable way to deal with that issue. Both deal with burning crosses as racial intimidation. One instance is in line with the attitudes of most Americans and one is not.

    So, when dealing with issues of abortion on television, it is my view that we shouldn’t mislead anyone concerning the importance of such a decision. Abortion shouldn’t be trivialized. If television wants to make the argument simple and convenient by avoiding it, I think that’s better than polishing the subject to in order to make it look easy. I would think that everyone can agree that while having an abortion is a hard, person choice, it isn’t really something celebrate and we would all be much better off if we encouraged people to act in ways that reduced the chance of having to make that decision. .

    There are plenty of ways to do that without ridiculing women. For instance, smoking among teenagers is at an all time low. The campaign to make smoking uncool works. Why not a campaign to make safe sex cool? Not talking about it isn’t working. Making it taboo isn’t working. Our society is sexual – make sex safe and make safe sex top of mind, hell, make it a slogan. Our challenge should be to change people’s attitudes toward sex, not quibble over abortion. A society who is striving to toward responsible sex, is a society who will find itself having fewer abortions. I can’t see how that attitude is harmful.

  64. Sally
    Sally November 17, 2005 at 1:12 pm |

    Sorry, one more thing to say. It seems to me that, if you expect television to teach moral lessons, the “convenient miscarriage” plot is the worst offender. It sets up a dilemma (what should a woman do about an unplanned pregnancy?), milks it for drama, and then magically relieves the woman of the burden of being a moral actor. It’s a deus ex machina designed to protect the woman from either having to compromise herself with the viewers by having an abortion or compromise her life choices by having a baby. And it allows the viewers the satisfaction of having the plot resolved in a way that doesn’t change the character’s situation, without the viewers having to admit that most women need to have abortions if they’re going to continue to live their lives the way their favorite character is being allowed to do. It strikes me as morally reprehensible, actually, and not just because it trivializes the actual, tragic experience of miscarriage. But maybe I’m not thinking critically enough for you.

  65. Sally
    Sally November 17, 2005 at 1:23 pm |

    I didn’t imply that TV should impress moral lessons upon its audience. I asked what kind of message. So, what do you think the message is concerning Ritalin in Desperate Housewives? Does this decision (to use Ritalin) make things better or worse for the characters? Do the benefits to the mother outweigh the negatives to the family (if any)? What value judgements are being made if any with regard to the positive and negative outcomes?

    I don’t think DH had a message about ritalin. The plot wasn’t really about ritalin, actually. It was about the fact that Lynette was overwhelmed by being a stay-at-home mother and was cracking under the strain of trying to do a job which she didn’t enjoy, wasn’t tempermentally suited for, and wasn’t all that good at. Her ritalin abuse didn’t seriously affect her family, but it did make it clear to the viewer that Lynette was really desperate and miserable. You really can’t understand that the show could have a plot involving ritalin that wasn’t about whether ritalin is good or bad?

  66. billy
    billy November 17, 2005 at 2:28 pm |

    It seems to me that, if you expect television to teach moral lessons

    I do not expect television to teach moral lessons. I never said that. Television can and does convey a message. That message can be part of a larger message. For instance, a show about a family (there has been numerous over the years) can have an episode that deals with recreational use of marijuana as something that is bad, as something that is of no real significance to society or something that should be encouraged.

    Actions have consequences. The consequences of actions in television shows – or any other story – can be a reflection of society’s attitudes, the author’s attitude, etc. For example – the cast of That 70′s Show smokes pot often. The consequences of those actions as presented within the context of the show is a reflection of our society’s attitude toward casual por use, the author’s attitude of casual pot use or a little of both. One thing we know for sure that it is not a refelction of society’s overall attutide of casual pot use in the 70′s. So, through messages who potray pot in this light, attitudes have changed about pot use. Our society and laws have come a long way because we as a society have decided that it’s not a big deal to smoke pot recreationally. Was that attitude shift a product of the message of pop-culture or was pop-culture’s attitude toward casual pot use affected by society’s view? Does art immitate lie or does life immitate art? I think it’s a little of both.

    I have not seen DH and from your synopsis, I assumed that the episode was about a troubled/overworked/whatever mom who used ritalin as a way cope. Was outcome of her decision to use ritalin continued misery and desperation? If so, can we infer that a sublte message here would be that when you feel this way, your troubles aren’t going to be relieved by popping a pill – your troubles require a better solution, not only for you, but for your family.

    I think we’re miscommunicating here. Over the course of a story, the protagonist makes decisions that further the plot. Each decision has an effect on that character and other characters. In the end, were these decisions good or bad? Was the outcome good? If not, why? If so, why?

    Either way, I don’t feel like continuing this conversation with you as statements like this:

    Or maybe you’re just kind of dumb.

    and

    But maybe I’m not thinking critically enough for you.

    are not appropriate and do not contribute to constructive debate. When you called me dumb, I pointed out that name calling was no substitute for critical thinking. After your second snide remark, I can only assume that you aren’t willing take me seriously.

  67. billy
    billy November 17, 2005 at 2:50 pm |

    Does art immitate lie or does life immitate art?

    Typo. I meant, “Does art immitate life or does life immitate art?”

    Sorry for any confusion…

  68. Sally
    Sally November 17, 2005 at 7:28 pm |

    After your second snide remark, I can only assume that you aren’t willing take me seriously.

    Well, no, I’m not inclined to take you seriously. You’re a familiar type on feminist blogs. You march in here and presume to instruct the little ladies, because we’re just chicks, and you think you’re smarter than us and can tell us what’s what. In my experience, people who take that tack generally don’t have much to say that’s very interesting. Maybe you’ll turn out to be the exception. But you might try to refine your approach. I don’t think EricP was the only person here who thought you sounded like a troll.

    If so, can we infer that a sublte message here would be that when you feel this way, your troubles aren’t going to be relieved by popping a pill – your troubles require a better solution, not only for you, but for your family.

    I don’t think the writers were talking about me. The plotline was a story about Lynette, a woman who had left her job to take care of her kids and who was losing it because that wasn’t the right decision for her. They’re not saying whether quitting our jobs to raise children would be the right decision for you or me: it’s wrong for Lynette, but at least one other character on the show seems to be pretty happy with that choice. They’re not commenting on whether you or I could benefit from ritalin. They’re telling a story which, I think, rang true to a lot of women, because pop culture doesn’t that often acknowledge that staying home with kids can be really hard and that some women hate it. But most of us realize that we’re not the character and that the solution to our problems might be very different from the solution to hers. We understand that because we’re not morons. Most people, I think, realize that T.V. shows tell a story, rather than offering lessons about how to live your life.

    FWIW, some people on DH have done truly terrible things without suffering terrible consequences. I’d like to think that’s because the writers think that we’re decent enough people to know that the measure of an action isn’t whether you’re punished for it. Even if you get away with driving off after hitting a little old lady in your car, it’s still a really awful thing to do.

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