Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pregnancy TV?

I read a Slate article today. Evidently, there's a pregnancy-themed sitcom on ABC in the works.

It sounds absurd on the face of it, right? A woman's pregnancy will only get you through a season of programming, unless you take a truly weird take in which she's eternally preparing her nest, or has a new one just in time for every sweeps week. It's not a cartoon: sitcom kids aging is part of the deal.

But it's not like focusing on a year in the life is an unusual marketing ploy. To move all those beauty supplies, consumers are pursuaded to twist themselves to a mythic ideal of an eternally 18-year-old body. Gotta convince the tweens they need to look older, convince the twenty-somethings they're too fat and wrinkled and the forty-something men they should still be rutting like rabbits (note to self: re-evaluate on 40th birthday). (Of course developing all those products takes chemical engineering as much as advertising, so I guess it's nice that something's driving the economy these days.)

We pass through those famous couple of years hardly realizing it, even those of us who are pretty enough to achieve the body ideal. Even shorter than the traipse though the adult/teen threshold are those ten or twelve new baby months. Yeah, the passage takes about as long, but the magic rubs off a hell of a lot quicker. Without marketing, the saccharine thrill of being new parents evaporates completely by the time Junior finally starts sleeping through the night. Sure, people may have more, out of biology or carelessness or love, but I don't think most second-time moms get pushed into spending a fortune on this stuff. (I could be wrong.)

But there's a whole pregnancy industry, a bizarre time-like loop that exists betweeen the moment you find out the blessed news and the time you decide you're sick of midnight feedings. There are pregnancy magazines, pregnancy books, pregnancy party supplies, and baby registries full of endless pregnancy products. It's a pregnancy lifestyle that they push. The magazines are surreal. Covers of celebrities shooting across the sky in their moment of pregnancy fame, doing their gravid photo spread. It's a lifestyle that no one lives in very long except for the editorial board. Maybe if they push it hard enough, women would want to get pregnant again just to relive the magic.

Can Underbelly last as a sitcom? They'll have to either get an audience of well-conditioned pregnancy groupies, or else replenish the demographic every couple of months. I'd call it an insane strategy, but outside of television, there's a pretty good record of it working.

Keifus (meh. I tried to make it interesting)