Writing an actress’s pregnancy into a TV show can be pretty hit and miss. Stargate incorporated Vaitiare Bandera’s (Sha’re) season three pregnancy into an ongoing story arc that helped facilitate a main character’s decision to stay in the SGC as well as provide new material to an ongoing arc. But to have written in Amanda Tapping’s (Carter) would have bogged her down with pointless mothering storylines and outraged fans because of the relationship(s) she was in at the time.
But when All Saints‘s Tammy McIntosh fell pregnant, the AS PTB were in one of the best positions I’ve ever seen to write in an actress’s pregnancy. Charlotte was a single lesbian in her mid-thirties who, for two years at least has made her desire to have a child known. She faces the reality that both her age and sexuality are working against her. Eighteen months ago, she fell pregnant in a drunken one-night stand to her best friend’s boyfriend after they’d been dumped by their girlfriends on the same day. Pretty terrible circumstances for her to have a child in, but she did some soul-searching, decided it was now or never, and she’d taken the terrible circumstances over nothing.
I loved that she soul-searched and weighed up and pros and cons of her decision. Her choice to have the baby would have had complications for years to come. I liked that she wasn’t some ditz figuring things would work themselves out.
When she miscarried, TPTB explored the concepts of grief, particularly paternal grief in what I thought was a very forward-thinking storyline. So when it became known that McIntosh was pregnant, I had high standards. I was expecting something topical, like IVF, where Charlotte would contemplate actively bringing a child into the world where she’s a single parent with a demanding job, or rape, where she contemplates the same things on top of knowing half their genes have a tendency toward violence.
So what did the AS PTB come up with? Well, Scarlett retracts every rave she made about Australian television, she’s so annoyed at their piss-poor effort.
Uh, they created her a boyfriend. Just in time to write in the pregnancy. Yep, you heard me. They made a lesbian straight to write in her pregnancy. And what’s worse, they did it with no explanation as to her change in sexuality. No self-reflection on her sexuality. No colleagues wondering how a so-called lesbian manages to have her last two lovers be men. It’s as if they hoped they could change a woman’s sexuality and no-one would question it.
And to top it off, it felt like they tacked on her pregnancy as an afterthought. There’s a mini-epidemic in the hospital, the boss has forced an old friend to confront his alcoholism, and we forgot something. What is it we forgot? Oh yeah, and Charlotte’s pregnant. This despite the fact longterm fans were excited to see what they would do with what was obviously meant to be primary storyline.
Internet fandom is angry, which makes me think that there is an untapped market out there or people who want their characters – male and female – to be consistent. I just can’t get over the fact they did a one-eighty on her sexuality, and expected that the fans wouldn’t notice.
We deserve better.