Has anyone noticed this? Among the better class of television shows – defined loosely as those I watch – when a female protagonist is forced to “choose,” she chooses life.
In “Mad Men,” the naïve, unmarried copywriter Peggy Olson gave up her baby for adoption. True, Peggy did not acknowledge she was pregnant until she was in labor, but the same could not be said for office vamp Joan Harris.
While Joan’s doctor husband is deployed in Vietnam, she has a one-off with boss Roger Sterling. Although she initially leans towards an abortion, Joan chooses to give birth, albeit while keeping Doc in the dark about the baby’s paternity.
In “Homeland,” bipolar CIA officer Carrie Mathison, no one’s pick for future homemaker of the year, defies everyone’s expectation and gives birth to the child sired by a troubled double agent who has already been killed in action.
Even in “Entourage,” set in the hedonistic wilds of Hollywood, Eric’s estranged girlfriend Sloan defies all local convention by actually going through with an unwanted pregnancy. He eventually marries her.
None of these characters could be construed as “conservative.” And yet the writers for these otherwise amoral shows sense that to have a female character choose abortion to preserve her lifestyle is to mark her as immoral.
Feminists took solace when “House of Cards” first lady Claire Underwood refused to apologize for her three abortions. “No, it will look like I am ashamed,” she told her handlers defiantly. “I’m not and I won’t.”
What they overlook is that the soulless, childless Claire is the Lady MacBeth of contemporary Washington. Spoiler alert: She and her Southern Democrat husband Frank have literally murdered their way to the White House. (I know, couldn’t happen in real life.)
To be sure, the few sympathetically drawn conservative characters on television have human failings in abundance, but, unlike the Underwoods, their debt to faith and tradition rein them in.
This is a running theme in “Downton Abbey,” arguably the finest conservative-friendly TV show ever produced, maybe the finest show period. On one occasion, for instance, Lord Grantham falls for a maid, a war widow with a child, and she falls for him.
Jack Cahill’s brand new book illustrates how the neo-Puritan progressive movement came to mimic a religion in its structure but not at all in its spirit — order “Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism”
When the earl weighs his responsibilities, however, he sees that to pursue his passion would wreck the life of the many who depend on him, upstairs and down. He ends the affair unconsummated and does so honorably.
In confronting his own weakness, Lord Grantham grows in his understanding of the weaknesses of others, his occasionally intemperate daughters chief among them.
When his hapless daughter Edith becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she goes so far as to make an appointment for an abortion.
But tortured by the thought of “killing the wanted child of a man I’m in love with,” she changes her mind and leaves the clinic. Lord Grantham forgives her and accepts this grandchild as he would any other.
Like his stuffy but surprisingly adaptive mother, the earl meets change where it needs to be met. “The aristocracy has not survived by its intransigence,” explains the Dowager Countess to a doubter.
The family moves through time as wise conservatives always have – cautiously, thoughtfully and incrementally. Liberals, who love the show since it appears on PBS, don’t get it.
Opined the TV critic for Time on the abortion episode, “The 1920s-set show gets viewers worked up, but the story’s very different from how it would be today.” Sure. Whatever.
Liberal feminists absolutely don’t get “Jane the Virgin,” the most defiantly pro-life, pro-chastity TV show ever produced. “‘Jane the Virgin’ Is Surprisingly Pro-Choice,” reads the delusional headline of the review in Cosmopolitan.
In the way of plot line, Jane Villanueva, a very Catholic Latina virgin in Miami, goes into a clinic for a pap smear and ends up being artificially inseminated by a distracted lesbian doctor.
Cosmopolitan takes heart in that Jane weighs her options and “chooses” not to abort. But four months into the pregnancy, when Jane realizes the baby may have a serious abnormality, she “chooses” again not to abort.
That decision could not have pleased the folks at Cosmo. If an unmarried working-class girl is making these kind of hard choices, what justification could a well-employed sophisticate have for doing otherwise?
Jane, like the show itself, is sweet, charming and funny. Of course, she chooses not to abort. If she chose to do otherwise, the show, like her life, would lose its moral grounding and make no sense at all – not even in Hollywood.
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