Movie Contrivance #14: I’m Pregnant

People tell other people they’re pregnant so often on TV and in movies that it’s no longer a surprise. It’s officially a contrivance.

In movies, the revelation that someone is pregnant always happens when something crazy is happening, and the pregnant person isn’t reacting as they normally would, and then they say those fateful words: “I’m pregnant.”

In TV shows, it can happen pretty much at any time, but more often in season finales than regular episodes. Again, it always happens when someone is acting out of character. As a viewer, you’re supposed to wonder why the person is acting so strange. But you don’t even wonder anymore, do you? Because you’ve seen it a million times.

In real life, do people wait until the most dramatic moment possible to reveal that they’re pregnant?

Nine times out of ten it feels like lazy writing. It’s as if the writer has reached the point where they have nothing else interesting to do with a character, so they check their writer flowchart (see inset that I made) and make the character pregnant. I bet these writers think they’re brilliant when they do this. They really break out the champagne at that moment. “Hey guys, I got it! It’s brilliant! She’s pregnant.

Can we (writers, that is) just agree to not make anyone pregnant for a while? Or at least if your characters absolutely insist upon getting pregnant, can they just tell people in a reasonable, realistic way?

6 thoughts on “Movie Contrivance #14: I’m Pregnant”

  1. I agree with you completely except for one instance. 😉 Do you remember in The Office, the episode where Kelly tells Ryan she’s pregnant…then they cut away to her doing her interview, shaking her head no? This was the only time where it was a surprise (at least for me) because of how the situation was handled and her reaction after telling him the “fake” news. Every other time though, as you say, its been a contrivance in ANY show/movie, specifically comedies.

    I think this is where Hollywood writers differ from Novel writers, they go for what is of best shock value or visual value as opposed to overall content and conciseness of the story.

    In their defense though, maybe they write so much they get burnt out of ideas? Granted that doesn’t make it any better but maybe they can do for T.V. writing what Pinch Hitters do for Baseball? Maybe Hollywood could have “Pinch Writers” for when they’re getting exhausted and coming up with redundant ideas? Let the regular writer take a break for a bit and then come in fresh for a new inning/season? Anyway, just a thought. 🙂

    • Georgia–I laughed out loud when Kelly shook her head. That was brilliant. I feel like the writers of The Office really get me. 🙂

      That’s a fair point–if you write 50 episodes of a show, it must be hard to come up with new material. I poke fun at these writers, but really I’m jealous of them.

  2. Along these same lines, the Dramatic Reveal of the Father has been beaten to death. (Yep, I’m looking at you, Friends.) The Dramatic Reveal of the Father also comes with another contrivance, The Long Term Speculation on the Father’s Identity. Who draws out either of these things? (Yep, Friends, still looking at you.) Furthermore, who tells everyone else before they tell the father (FRIENDS!!!)

    I’m sorry, but even with today’s crazy kids sleeping around, you and everyone you know are going to immediately know who the father is 99.999% of the time. It’s going to be the guy you’re married to/dating/fooling around with, not your platonic best friend or your True Love that got Away.

    Good one, Stegmaier.


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