I'd like to talk about my all-time favorite show, Friends. Jason and I LOVE it! We always said we were like Monica and Chandler....WAY before infertility entered our lives. How ironic. I was thinking about this show this morning, and how infertility and adoption are portrayed in the media, and decided to do a "TV show review" on Friends (not as academic as a book review to be sure:))!
First, let's talk infertility. I believe the Bing's (that's Monica and Chandler in case you don't watch...and if you don't watch, what is WRONG with you?!) journey with infertility lasted about half a season. Somewhere around that time, their great friend, Rachel, became pregnant with an "oopsy" and went on to have a perfect daughter (apparently condoms don't work 100% of the time and "THEY SHOULD PUT THAT ON THE BOX!!"). LOL, I digress. In fact, Monica and Chandler took care of her daughter as they were trying to conceive, unsuccessfully. Not ONCE did they portray the tension, pain, sadness, anger, etc that comes between friends when one can conceive and carry a child so easily, and the other cannot. The only grief they showed us about the Bing's infertility was when the doctor called and told them they both have issues and will not be able to have children together. Monica and Chandler had a brief conversation about options, and decided in about two minutes that they both agreed on next steps (how often does THAT happen?).
Cut to the next few episodes, and all of a sudden they are happily adopting (no reservations at all). Yeah, because that's how it happens. Certainly, we don't go through a grieving process when we give up on the idea of having biological children, and we obviously don't have any reservations, because adopting is so easy, right? Their homestudy is seamless and the match quick. I will give them credit, though, where credit is due. They definitely showed the nervousness we feel as our homes are being scrutinized by social workers, and they for sure showed Monica's intense desire to get a call as soon as possible.
What I loved about how they portrayed the adoption process was how open it was. They met the birth mom, came to know and love her, and were there when the babies were born (yes, she had twins). It ended there, though. They happily took two babies home and "bid ado" to the birth mom. No mention of the intense grief she was experiencing (I know, I know, not real life here), and no mention of an adjustment period for these babies, who just lost their first mom (the birth dad was non-existent).
What I loved:
- They actually tackled infertility, however surface level - Go Friends!
- They showed how wonderful open adoption can be.
- America got another opportunity to watch the process (however simple) of adoption, and this hopefully makes it less scary for people.
- And my favorite part - Monica and Chandler did NOT get pregnant as soon as they "relaxed" or as soon as they adopted. I HATE when movies about infertility end with the couple happily pregnant after just relaxing...uggghhh, gag me! Again, a point for Friends!
What I didn't so much love:
- The intense pain and grief of infertility was smashed into one scene when the dooming news was shared by the doctor (Jason so eloquently reminds that it IS a comedy, Faith!).
- There was absolutely no conflict between Monica and Chandler about next steps - in reality, we know that infertility can put a huge wedge between couples, for many, many reasons.
- The grief that comes with letting go of expectations (and control) and deciding to adopt was not addressed.
- The birth mom's real experience was totally lost, as was the babies' experience, for that matter.
After writing this, what I've decided is, over all, they did a good job with telling a story with the forum that they had. It is a comedy after all, with lots of story lines. The fact that we, as infertiles and adoptive-parents-to-be, were even a piece of those story lines is definitely a step in the right direction!
So, now I want to know what you think. Do you feel Friends made your story more visible, and therefore more real to people? Or do you feel that it just lessened others' understanding by minimizing everything? Or do you not think this much about your favorite TV shows and just not care...and pretty much think I'm crazy?!