Monday, July 18, 2011

USA's crime dramas play it safe on abortion

My spouse and I like "In plain sight." The protagonist is a tough-as-nails woman in her 40s who's a federal marshal in the witness protection program. People swear in the show, and many of the witnesses being protected are lowlife scum. So the Disney Channel USA ain't. Nor is "In plain sight" an outlier in the USA group of popular dramas-with-a-splash of humor/quirkiness.

So recently the heroine of "In plain sight" got pregnant after a one night stand. Chances of a future with the knocker-upper: nil. She's in Albuquerque New Mexico BTW. Oh, and the heroine appears to be pugnaciously unreligious. She does not and does not appear to ever have had a stable love life, nor is one in the offing. Recently she and a boyfriend broke up, with it seeming like she just couldn't handle marriage commitments.

Now in real life a woman like that in that situation would get an abortion in all likelihood. She might have the child and put it up for adoption. She even might raise the child as a single mother. But the 80% probability is abortion--especially given the risk of severe birth defects in a relatively late-in-life pregnancy.

But in the TV show abortion never came up, never was mentioned, never was rejected. It was as if there was no such thing as abortion--that if you're pregnant you WILL have the baby. The absolute only decision considered on "In plain sight" was whether to raise the child or give it up for adoption.

This is fundamentally dishonest. I'm not arguing that the screenwriters should have had her get an abortion. I'm not arguing for or against abortion. I'm arguing that in a show that purports to be gritty, realistic, confronting all sorts of gutwrenching issues, the fact that abortion was never so much as mentioned, when a majority of Americans approve of abortion under varying restrictions in poll after poll, just shows how terrified Hollywood is of the far Right.

It's ironic that the far Right continually fulminates about Hollywood being a latter-day Sodom and Gomorrah even as Hollywood actually tiptoes about the far Right's most hot-button issue.

Name me one scripted TV show in recent years where abortion was even considered, much less done.

I'm not including Lifetime Channel weepers where the lady gets an abortion and is Ruined by her Sinful Choice. Just regular channels that show regular scripted dramas.

Homosexuality is now presented as perfectly normal, as in "Modern Family." But abortion appears to be the Mount Everest of challenges for Hollywood.