Category Archives: Private Practice

Abortion on Television

I was watching – don’t ask me why, it’s unexplainable – the ABC drama Private Practice the other day. Here’s a piece of the recap

{My comments in brackets.]
Violet [the therapist] has trouble bonding with her baby boy when feelings from her [brutal, gratuitously shown] attack [removing her baby from her womb] resurface at a rape counseling session [for a couple]. She [Violet] cannot even look at him [her baby]. She is reminder of her attack every time she looks at him. The rape victim wants to keep her child [from her rape] but her husband does not. Violet tells her how she feels about her baby every time she looks at him. The patient decides to abort the baby.

Ah…after she realizes she’s inflicted her own values onto her patient, Violet calls the couple in again, real discussion takes place, as the husband asks his wife what she really wants to do. While it’s not spelled out, it seems pretty clear that the abortion will not happen.

After I watched this, I was reminded of a blogpost a few months ago by Greg Burgas about the now-canceled ABC soapy drama Dirty Sexy Money, where the heiress, Karen Darling, finally hooks up with her childhood sweetheart, but finds herself pregnant by her former finance. She goes to the abortion clinic with her mother, but ends deciding to keep the baby.

It seems that others besides Greg have been asking this question for a while: does anyone actually HAVE an abortion on television anymore? Between this 2004 New York Times piece and this 2005 Village Voice piece, it seems nobody actually gets an abortion on American TV, even if initially think they will. The only exceptions I could find since Maude in the early 1970s were Everwood and Six feet Under, though there may have been some on the daytime or nighttime soap operas.

More likely is what happened on Sex in the City where Carrie plans to accompany Miranda to her abortion, but Miranda ultimately bails. Now some TV characters may have had abortions in the past (Carrie on SITC, Violet on Private Practice), but it was a long time ago. No wonder that New York Times article is titled “Television’s Most Persistent Taboo.”

Please note I’m making an observation about a medium’s treatment of a legal procedure. It’s not that I thought any of the specific characters SHOULD have had abortions – I’m not the TV writer – only that the collective lack of them doesn’t ring true.

The New Television Season QUESTIONS

1. What new shows are you most looking forward to checking out?

For me, it’s that nighttime soapy-looking Dirty Sexy Money on Wednesday nights on ABC, not because of the premise, but because of the cast: Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, and Jill Clayburgh.

The show with the most buzz: Pushing Daisies, also on Wednesdays on ABC. Of course, “buzz” doesn’t always equal quality.

What else is on Wednesdays on ABC, anyway? Oh, yeah, the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Private Practice, which has a buzz too, but not such a good one. I’ll have to watch it at least once, because of the luminescent Audra McDonald, pictured, before I bail; I’ll probably end up watching Bionic Woman on NBC, if anything.

There’s a show on Mondays on the CW (The CW?!) called Aliens in America, about a Pakistani Muslim exchange student, which will either be very good or very bad, but which I’ll at least try. It has reviewed surprisingly well, so far, and it’s got to be better than a show about the Geico Cavemen.

Finally, there’s Back to You,b Wednesday on FOX. It actually started last week, and Ken Levine liked it, though Tom the Dog did not. I’ll have to at least watch the premiere episode

There are probably others – better check my TV listings for the time and channel in my area.

2. What returning shows are you looking forward to seeing?

NBC Thursday night comedies: Earl, Scrubs, The Office. I’ll probably even give 30 Rock another go. Last year I wrote: Watching Tracy Morgan on the second or third episode of 30 Rock doing some jivin’ riff, I said, “I don’t need this,” shut it off in mid-episode, deleted it, deleted the next yet unwatched episode, and removed it from the DVR recording schedule. But I also noted that lots of people whose opinion I respect like it. And it did get some Emmy love.

Oh, and that dysfunctional family – I relate to dysfunctional families – on ABC’s Brothers and Sisters Sunday nights. I’m not saying Sally Field deserved the Emmy more than, say, Edie Falco from The Sopranos, but I like her, I really like her in this show.
Upright Citizens Brigade on DVD, “The Return of America’s Best Sketch Comedy Group”.
Mr. Brown posed his own three TV questions, one of which hit on one of mine: What show will be canceled first? Entertainment Weekly picked Viva Laughlin, a “musical-dramedy”, and I’m thinking it’ll go early, but it’s not even premiering until October 21, by which time that show with the Geico cavemen, I’m hoping, will have bitten the dust.