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Saturday, July 10, 2010

If you haven't been following FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, the last episode had 16-year-old Becky Sproles struggling with her pregnancy.

The New York Times seems to think it was an unbalanced episode, and even accuses the show of a "quasi-Marxist" attitude towards economic determinism. I don't see that. It seemed a pretty gripping episode, with Becky torn by the knowledge that she's utterly unequipped to be a mom, and the vision and hope that she could somehow be a better mom than her own -- between the fear of ruining her life, and the horror of terminating the separate life inside her. Luke Cafferty, the boy responsible, has no idea what to do and really can't do anything except make a lot of promises. Tami Taylor would clearly like Becky to carry the baby to term and give it away, but she's not about to force that decision on her. Becky's mom wants her daughter to be spared the life she's had -- a paradox since Becky wouldn't exist if her mom had made the same choice 17 years ago.

(I'm noticing that it's impossible to write about an abortion without taking sides. Is it "killing her baby"? Is it "terminating a pregnancy"? Are you terminating a life or removing a blastocyst?)

I've noticed that TV has been pro-choice but anti-abortion for years. I can't remember the last time I saw a character willingly have an abortion. They're usually saved by a miscarriage, or they decide to have the baby and then they disappear from the show so we don't have to see the diapers. It's not entirely political. It's just much more upbeat to say yes to a baby, or a marriage, or a new career (and then roll credits), than to say no.

Back in the day this would have been A Very Special Episode. FNL continues to thrill and surprise me by never using a go-to plot. The cops still haven't busted the Riggins's chop shop. But you never know if they might.

Is this the best hour drama on broadcast, or what?



This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:52 AM  

There was one episode of a show where a character willingly had an abortion. It was in the beginning of the third season of St. Elsewhere. In that arc, Dr. Clancy (Helen Hunt) gets pregnant and wants to terminate. However, Dr. Morrison (David Morse) doesn't want her to because he feels it is his child, too, and he should have a say in it.

By Blogger BrianLaff, at 1:03 PM  

@Brian: wow, that's going back to 1985, isn't it?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:09 PM  

I always like the way Claire's abortion was handled on SIX FEET UNDER. Nobody besides Brenda even knew about it for several episodes.

By Blogger Amanda, at 2:35 PM  

FNL is very smart. I like the strength of the female characters. No doormats allowed.
For funny I'm liking The Good Guys. Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks make a great team. But cable still has some of the best TV -- the new season of True Blood and Mad Men still to come.

By Blogger Joanne, at 5:42 PM  

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