Saturday, January 24, 2009

Unplanned Pregnancy: 90210

You know how you groan inwardly when a character on a teen soap finds she's pregnant, and you await the awkward route to one of two conclusions - an accidental miscarriage or a decision to continue the pregnancy?

You know, how the closest anything ever got to abortion as a valid option was Julia Salinger on Party Of Five deciding to have an abortion, and even making an appointment for it. But wouldn't you know, on her way there she... tripped and fell down the stairs. (Note, New Zealand family planning doctor Margaret Sparrow has a few things to say about that being a particularly unreliable and dangerous method for ending pregnancy.)

Granted, there have been some teen abortions on TV. There was Degrassi's Heather or Erica - one of the twins had an abortion, I can't remember which. And she then faced a persecution campaign from fellow Degrassi students, mostly Liz I think. But, whatever, Degrassi was a teen issues drama rather than a soap. And, come on, it's Canadian. Also, Claire Fisher's abortion is not relevant to this discussion either. Six Feet Under was an adult drama.

So anyway, my point is, I take an interest in how teen soaps get from pregnancy to non-abortion. And the new 90210 just did it in the BEST. WAY. EVER.

There's a character, a student. A blood test reveals she's pregnant. There's a lot going on in her life, etc etc etc. Jennie Garth as guidance counsellor is 'there for her' in the "you should consider all your options, of course, but a lot of young women regret their decision to have an abortion" sense, and her best friend is 'there for her' in the "I think you should have an abortion" sense. So, all in all, not exactly how the Pregnancy Advisory Service would do it. I wasn't giving 90210 high marks at this point.

Anyway, the character is 'not dealing' with it - starts drinking a lot of coffee, driving all night etc. So, she nearly has a car accident, which leaves her pretty shaken up, alone in her car on the side of a coastal road. This proximity to death is decisive in some way, and she turns her car around having made, we presume, a Decision. I was rolling my eyes at this point, thinking, "Oh, I see where this is going."

BUT I REALLY DIDN'T. 'See where this is going', that is. Because, THIS is where it was going:
PREGNANT TEEN: Anyway, I was driving and driving, and somewhere around Big Sur I almost got killed.

FRIEND: What? What happened?

PREGNANT TEEN: A car accident, or this almost accident.

FRIEND: My god, are you okay?

PREGNANT TEEN: I pulled over, and suddenly it hit me, you know. Like, I have to take control of this situation. I have to make a choice. And I ended up going to this women's clinic that my hairdresser was talking about. I saw a doctor, and...

FRIEND: Did... did you...?

PREGNANT TEEN: I couldn't. I can't.

FRIEND: Honey, I understand. Honestly, I don't think I could either. I mean, it's one thing to talk about it but...

PREGNANT TEEN: No, I CAN'T. I'm too far along. It's not legal, it's not possible.

Abortion just isn't an option. Whether I like it or not, I'm having this baby.

Wait. You mean, abortion isn't simply a matter of choice? There are like, legal impediments to women exercising reproductive control? That, in fact, the decision can be entirely out of the woman's hands? Could this be the first no-choice-non-abortion in teen soap?

Touché, 90210. Touché.

1 comment:

Guy said...

The falling down the stairs thing before making it to the clinic was also used in Crossroads, with the addition of a symbolic "dropping of a toy globe" to, you know, let us know the pregnancy was over...