Movies: (Men & Women Can’t Just Be) Friends with (Biological) Kids*.

I had high hopes for Friends with Kids. Not knowing much about the premise aside from the fact that the movie centred around two friends who decide to have a baby together without the romantic attachment, and the fact that Megan Fox and the cast of Bridesmaids was in it, I was looking forward to it.

But it failed to live up to the hype I’d created in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, ruminating on it, I thought the characters were real, gritty, likable and infuriating at the same time; much like Bridesmaids. I applaud Jennifer Westfeldt for writing such human characters (she also starred in, produced and directed the flick. Go girl!), but I just couldn’t get behind their motivations.

The story begins with Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason, two besties who see the affect children have on their friends’ marriages, and decide to have a baby together whilst still seeing other people, so they have the best of both worlds. What troubled me about this scenario was that alternative means of baby-having were never discussed. In America, it’s easy (in comparison to other countries, like Australia) to adopt a baby as a well-off, single woman. I can’t imagine it would be hard to add Jason’s name to the birth certificate as the father. Or how about surrogacy? Unbelievably, IVF isn’t discussed at all and Julie and Jason actually have intercourse to conceive their child. A woman of Julie’s age wouldn’t likely get pregnant on the first try, but low and behold, nine months later out pops baby Joe.

For what it’s worth, I think the whole idea of raising a baby with a friend is a great idea! It’s not for me, but who’s to say how they’ll feel when their biological clock is ticking and they’re without a partner? But—inevitably, as the trope goes—hormones and jealously over Megan Fox and Ed Burns, who play Jason and Julie’s lovers, respectively, get in the way, and Julie confesses her love for Jason about a year after Joe’s birth. Jason has just moved in with Fox’s Mary Jane and doesn’t feel the same way. Julie moves out of the apartment building she and Jason both live in (in different apartments) in Manhattan and relocates to Brooklyn, “two trains and a $70 cab fare away”, to escape the pain of seeing him. A year later, Jason comes to the same realisation Julie had—that they’d be perfect together—but Julie’s having none of it. Eventually, she succumbs and they live happily ever after, proving that men and women can’t be friends!

One other pet peeve I had with the movie was the sheer luxury the characters lived in. For a film set in New York, it’s highly unlikely that everyone in a friendship circle would have immaculate rent-controlled apartments they live in alone and dine at “$100 a plate” restaurants (sound like another Manhattan-set story you know…?), especially when Julie’s job is “deciding who to give [a rich man’s] money to”: charity work, essentially. When she laments that she can’t afford to send Joe to a $20,000 a year private school in Manhattan, it really doesn’t mesh with her characters’ story which has, up to then, been a yuppie existence of the abovementioned $70 taxi rides, ski trips and $1400 worth of baby blankets…

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: Bridesmaids Review.

Image via IMDb.

Movies: What to Expect When You’re Expecting—Adoption, Choice & Bacne*.

Aside from all the happy endings and Brooklyn Decker’s unrealistic sneeze-push delivery, there were some poignant pregnancy and child rearing issues at play in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, a star-studded flick in the vein of Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve and He’s Just Not That Into You, which takes only its name from the ’80s self-help book.

Out of all the children being brought into the world/movie, Jennifer Lopez’s journey is the most realistic. When her and her husband, Alex, realise they’re being fast-tracked to adopt a baby in Ethiopia, the cracks in their relationship begin to show. Alex is worried he’s not ready for a child and won’t love a baby that’s not biologically his. Lopez’s Holly has a breakdown when she loses her job after they spend up big on baby items and move into a house they can’t afford. “I’m the one who made us spend all our 401K on three rounds of IVF. I’m the one who can’t do what a woman is supposed to be able to do [get pregnant],” she cries.

As I’ve written before, I don’t want biological children and I don’t personally agree with IVF for the reason that women like Alex shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re failures by society for not being able to conceive a child or not wanting them at all. I also think adoption should be made easier as a first option. I’m glad the movie chose to show this (along with Anna Kendrick’s character’s miscarriage).

Weight loss reality show trainer Jules Baxter, played by Cameron Diaz, comes to the realisation that a woman’s body is no longer her own when she’s carrying a child to term. “Everybody’s got an opinion not only about me, but about my baby before it’s even born,” she laments. Everyone wants to touch her, to weigh in on her and her partner’s circumcision debate, and to reduce her mobility to bed rest.  When Jules collapses on the set of her show, a doctor confines her to a hotel room for the rest of her pregnancy. “I’m sorry, but you don’t have a choice,” the doctor informs Jules when she protests. With the U.S. becoming more conservative by the second, what with their Personhood movements and restrictions on insurance covering birth control, so many of the choices women have regarding their body are becoming scarce. The irony of exercising the right to choose to have a baby means giving up the right to choose what happens to it whilst a baby is growing in there for Jules.

This is also reflected in Wendy’s (Elizabeth Banks) experience, who is the baby specialist with her own baby book and baby shop but no baby. She’s been trying with her husband Gary for years and only when she gives up do the couple naturally conceive. Wendy the übermum’s pregnancy doesn’t go to (birth) plan—but does come with chronic gas, no “glow” and bacne—which consisted of a drug-free vaginal delivery. Once the pain kicks in and her cervix fails to dilate at the hospital, she changes her mind and begs for an epidural and the doctors advise her she’ll have to go ahead with a C-section. Despite doing “everything right”, when it comes down to the health of baby and mum, Wendy’s choice isn’t the right one.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via Join HD.

TV: Adoption, Men’s Rights & Desperate Housewives.

The moment Susan’s daughter Julie rocked up pregnant and with the intent to give the baby up for adoption, I knew there was trouble in the air. Susan tries to sabotage Julie’s efforts to find an adoptive family and, last night, she found out rambunctious little Porter Scavo from across the street is the father.

While initially Susan was appalled at the prospect of having a part-Scavo grand-offspring, she changes her tune when Porter decides he’d like to raise the baby. Susan offers her help to get Porter a lawyer and look after the baby when it comes. Susan expressly goes against Julie’s wishes and tells Julie that “birth fathers have rights”.

Well, in the current political climate of the U.S. (which has been popping up a lot on television in recent weeks), I had to double check that the foetus residing in a woman’s womb in the Western world is subject to her wishes, not the baby daddy’s.

While in some developing countries, men do have the legal backing to request their baby not be aborted or given up for adoption, this is certainly not automatically true in the U.S. I suppose Porter could apply for custody of the baby and relieve Julie of all her responsibilities but, as she puts it, how do you think she’ll feel having the baby she gave up for adoption living across the street and being babysat by her overbearing mother?!

I really feel for Julie here: last week she told her mother she doesn’t want to raise a child as a single mother as she’s seen what Susan went through. My reasoning is that she should have just got an abortion, but if that doesn’t align with her values (or she found out about the pregnancy too late), I understand her wanting to give it up to a family that can take care of the baby and give it the love it needs.

But I cannot believe (actually, Susan’s kind of flakey, so I can) that Susan is advocating for her daughter to lose her right as a woman to chose what happens to her body and what comes out of it in favour of upholding the patriarchy. Look, I don’t think that Porter’s feelings shouldn’t be heard and that they’re not valid, but at the end of the day, the father is young, unemployed and undereducated, living at home with his mum who doesn’t want another baby around and the mother doesn’t want the child, so who do you think the courts will side with?

Related: 2 Broke & Tampon-less Girls.

Grey’s Anatomy: “You Killed Our Baby”.

Image via The Voice of TV.

TV: Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin?”

Last night’s Grey’s final saw the seeming collapse of Derek and Meredith’s marriage over Meredith tampering with the Alzheimer’s clinical trial just as baby Zola came into their lives, pending the finalisation of the adoption papers.

Derek chided Meredith for swapping the active drug with the placebo for Richard’s wife, Adele, asking her how she couldn’t differentiate between right and wrong. Meredith replied that to her, things aren’t just right and wrong; there are shades of grey (hello, her last name’s Grey!), and that she’d do it all over again if it meant that Adele got better.

Derek should know this. Back in season five, when Derek introduces Meredith to his mother, she exclaimed that Meredith was good for him: he’s black and white and she’s grey.

But it didn’t stop him walking out on his wife for failing to see her reasoning, much like Owen failed to see Cristina’s reasoning, and kicked her out after she scheduled an abortion without his input.

Yes, that’s right: Cristina’s pregnant, much to her dismay.

She doesn’t want a baby. Never has, and never will. But Owen can’t understand this, and pushes her to see his side.

Now, this is where it starts to get messy. I’m not ashamed to say I’m staunchly pro-choice, so much so that I take the line of reasoning that if in doubt, abort. Especially if the woman in question is young, a victim of rape or incest, or can’t afford to have a baby. To me, life begins when the foetus is out of the womb and has taken its first breath. But I agree with Owen in that Cristina should have allowed him to have a say in the matter of abortion. But I also think that if Owen married Cristina knowing she didn’t want children but thinking he could persuade her anyway, he’s an idiot.

Cristina echoes this notion somewhat when she informs her husband she’s pregnant. Owen is overjoyed; Cristina has a migraine.

She tells him flat out that she doesn’t want a baby, and he responds with, “Well, you have one.”

“Are you getting all lifey on me?!” she remarks in disbelief, while he proceeds to ask her how far along she is, and if the foetus has feet and hands. How dare he tell her when life begins, she reasons.

While the storyline is clearly personal, not medical, it seems that Owen leans towards pro-life, though that could just be because the foetus in question contains his DNA. I don’t think doctors should push their personal opinions onto a pregnant woman who is coming to terms with the “unwanted tissue” inside her. I would go as far to say that I don’t think doctors with pro-life beliefs should be practicing medicine.

Still, Cristina is absolutely right when she says she’s not “compromising” on a baby: “You don’t have half a baby!… You don’t ‘give a little’ on a baby.”

While it’s perhaps easier for the father to bow out on raising their biological child, mothers usually don’t have that (ad)option. Cristina just plain and simply doesn’t. Want. A. Baby. But if she has it, she knows she’ll love it. (That’s the risk women run when they give their children up for adoption.) Owen shouldn’t have put her in the position to do something she doesn’t want to do (“It’s not like pizza or Thai.”), thinking she will “come around” later.

While Derek and Meredith deal with the fall out of Meredith’s “wrong” decision, how will Owen deal with Cristina’s decision? Was it “right” or “wrong”? And how will Grey’s Anatomy continue to discuss the “when does life begin?” question?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Grey’s Anatomy‘s “Superfreak” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] On the (Rest of the) Net: May 13th 2011.

Elsewhere: [The Feel of Free] Cristina Yang + You Can’t Compromise on a Baby.

[Marinagraphy] Resisting Motherhood in Grey’s Anatomy.

Images via VideoBB.