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Old February 26 2012, 07:48 PM   #1
RoJoHen
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Hiding pregnant bellies

What is your opinion of this phenomenon? Actresses on TV shows often get pregnant in real life, and as a result, the TV makers must take action.

Should they hide the belly with wardrobe a la B'Elanna's pregnancy Engineering jacket that mysteriously vanished after she gave birth? Should they write the pregnancy into the story, like Cordelia's crazy hellspawn Jasmine baby in Season 4 of "Angel"? Should they write the character out of the story like Dana Scully when she conveniently got abducted by aliens? Should they play with camera angles and props in order to hide the belly (holding boxes, hiding behind the refrigerator door, etc)?

What are you favorite pregnancy-hiding techniques in TV?
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Old February 26 2012, 07:54 PM   #2
the G-man
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

I thought Seinfeld did a good job of hiding it whenever Julia Louis Dreyfus was expecting.
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Old February 26 2012, 07:58 PM   #3
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

I always loved the refrigerator door and shopping bags that blocked Lisa Bonet on the Cosby Show. Marcia Cross probably had the best one on Desperate Housewives. She was put on bed-rest by her doctors, so they filmed the last episodes of the season by rebuilding the set of her character's bedroom in Marcia's actual bedroom. Her character was bedridden due to a bad fall, so she was always under blankets.

I really don't care how they incorporate the pregnancy into the show, just so long as it makes sense for the character. It wouldn't have made sense, for instance, for Scully to be pregnant, so writing "around it" was the best to handle it. On L&O Criminal Intent, they had Eames carrying a child as a surrogate for her sister, which I thought made perfect sense, since that is the kind of thing that character would do, and they also wouldn't have to hide it.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:01 PM   #4
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

I thought one of the recent most funniest in your face examples was a few years back on How i met your mother when Alyson Hannigan got pregnant and in one episode entered an eating contest, won and they showed the entire belly

Other than that it's the usual.. standing behind furniture, carring big bags, loose clothing and the ever popular "family emergency" or whatever that excuses the actress for 2-3 episodes while she delivers the baby in real life.

Sometimes the producers roll with it and include the pregnancy in the character story but sometimes it doesn't fit the character and so they hide it.. no big deal.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:12 PM   #5
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

Then there's the "Friends" route where they just made Phoebe pregnant in the story when Lisa Kudrow got pregnant IRL.

(In the story, Phoebe was being a surrogate mother for her half-brother and his wife.)
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Old February 26 2012, 08:12 PM   #6
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

Well, naturally it depends on the character and their situation. There are cases where it would be too awkward or impractical to have the character get pregnant, since it would be out of character or be untenable in their situation. Disguising it with camera angles can work pretty well if it's done deftly; sometimes it takes me a while to catch on that that's going on. The "sudden change to baggy clothes" thing is a little more obvious.

I like the way Leverage handled Gina Bellman's pregnancy in the second season. Her character Sophie temporarily left the team to "find herself" for a while, but she continued to appear briefly in most episodes thanks to phone calls and videoconferencing (or Skype or whatever they call it these days), and her departure itself became an important element of the story arc, since Sophie was the heart of the team and a stabilizing influence on the rest, so it was hard for them to adjust to her absence. Plus they temporarily replaced her on the team with Jeri Ryan, who was very nice to have around and added further new story/character opportunities that the show wouldn't have had otherwise. So it was a fine example of turning a potential problem (losing an actress due to pregnancy) into an opportunity.

Of course, by now we should have the technology to digitally replace a pregnant actress's belly with a normal-sized one, providing a production has the time and budget to do so. I mean, it wouldn't be any harder than digitally removing Ralph Fiennes's nose for Voldemort or Hugo Weaving's for the Red Skull, or replacing Andy Serkis's whole body with a chimpanzee. But there don't seem to be any examples of that on the TV Tropes page on the topic.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:15 PM   #7
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

I dislike it when they write it into storylines because it's always so forced. Either hide it or write the character out for a while.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:27 PM   #8
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

The saddest example of this, to me, was when Katey Sagall became pregnant on Married with Children. They wrote her pregnancy into the plot, along with her neighbor, but then she miscarried IRL. They explained that away by having an "It was all a dream" episode. Filming that must have been hard as hell for Katey.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:28 PM   #9
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

It's a little amusing to think about breaking the fourth wall. Subtitles saying "[Actress] is pregnant, not [Character]," or "Dial [#] if you think [Actress] is overweight," or "See what happens when you do the dirty!" Then do skinny jokes about the actress if it's a comedy. Dramas can do angst about promiscuity or premarital sex or adultery.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:31 PM   #10
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

The most ironical one was Moonlighting when Cybill Shepherd had to pretend to be expecting and then when she actually was pregnant they had to jump through hoops to hide it.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:32 PM   #11
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

Christopher wrote: View Post

Of course, by now we should have the technology to digitally replace a pregnant actress's belly with a normal-sized one, providing a production has the time and budget to do so. I mean, it wouldn't be any harder than digitally removing Ralph Fiennes's nose for Voldemort or Hugo Weaving's for the Red Skull, or replacing Andy Serkis's whole body with a chimpanzee. But there don't seem to be any examples of that on the TV Tropes page on the topic.
You do realize that TV has different budget constraints than blockbuster hollywood movies?

And on top of that far stricter production cycles.. a standard 45 minute episode is usually shot in 7-9 days with maybe 2 weeks tops in post production (if that) and that's nowhere near enough to do such a thing properly.

Pthalo BlueMoon wrote: View Post
The saddest example of this, to me, was when Katey Sagall became pregnant on Married with Children. They wrote her pregnancy into the plot, along with her neighbor, but then she miscarried IRL. They explained that away by having an "It was all a dream" episode. Filming that must have been hard as hell for Katey.
Yeah.. i remember that and felt very bad for her when i learned of it. Given the fast shooting schedule of such shows and being a main character doesn't give you the time to properly work through something so awful and then having the show turn the knife in the wound is extra painful.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:34 PM   #12
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

Yeah, I don't think a TV series is going to have the time or budget to CGI-out a pregnant belly at least not right now.

Wasn't there an episode of Voyager where Rosario Dawson's pregnancy was written into an episode by having it be a holodeck creation or something while they were being attacked by the Hirogen(?) or something?
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Old February 26 2012, 08:48 PM   #13
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

^

'The Killing Game, Parts I & II'

Tom asks her who the father is, and she tells him its a holographic pregnancy that's part of the character she was given, not a real baby.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:55 PM   #14
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

The way that Charisma Carpenter's pregnancy was handled by the Angel crew was dreadful; it added another twist to an already convoluted storyline and threatened to turn season four into an absurd and melodramatic supernatural soap opera. The HIMYM way sounds much better.

Recently finished watching season four of Deep Space Nine. So far, I think Nana Visitor's pregnancy was handled very well. They basically utilised it in a positive way for the characters of Nerys and the O'Briens, giving them some nice scenes together, and the in-mythology explanation made a lot of sense in that it addressed Kira's pregnancy without allowing the show to be pulled off-course.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:57 PM   #15
sojourner
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Re: Hiding pregnant bellies

FPAlpha wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post

Of course, by now we should have the technology to digitally replace a pregnant actress's belly with a normal-sized one, providing a production has the time and budget to do so. I mean, it wouldn't be any harder than digitally removing Ralph Fiennes's nose for Voldemort or Hugo Weaving's for the Red Skull, or replacing Andy Serkis's whole body with a chimpanzee. But there don't seem to be any examples of that on the TV Tropes page on the topic.
You do realize that TV has different budget constraints than blockbuster hollywood movies?
I would guess that's why he said "providing a production has the time and budget to do so".
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