Most women who terminate a pregnancy are already moms but we rarely see that on screen. Australian comedy The Letdown is the latest show to tackle the taboo
” We got a beautiful email from a viewer last week ,” says Sarah Scheller, co-creator of the ABC’s The Letdown.” It said,’ That was my scenario. I can’t believe I merely saw it on screen .'”
Women who have abortions are only just now beginning to see themselves depicted on screens, but for a certain subgroup- women who are already moms when they decide to terminate- the taboo is stronger than ever.
It’s a taboo that Scheller’s low-key comedy was determined to softly break.
The Letdown follows Audrey: a middle-class female, played by Scheller’s collaborator Alison Bell, who is adjusting to life after childbirth with a clumsy, fumbling grace.
The show has been greeted warmly by critics and fans for its raw depiction of new motherhood, and in its second season Bell and Scheller wanted to dial up the darkness and realism.
But when Scheller began testing out a new plotline- Audrey’s next pregnancy, terminated by abortion- friends she told about it were horrified, saying, “‘ Oh no, don’t do that !'”
It proved Scheller’s hunch: this story needed to be told, and without the trauma or fear that colourings so many onscreen abortion tales.
” Mothers have more abortions than anyone else ,” says Scheller down the line from Los Angeles, where she’s now based thanks to the global recognition of her indicate .” So why is this still so taboo ?”
Australian data- thought scant- shows the same trend: that women in their late 20 s and 30 s are far more likely to have abortions than teens; and that mothers, educated men and blithely married couple get abortions too.
Perhaps we need a dosage of darknes humour to process and normalise taboo, yet cliche experiences. In 2015, Lena Dunham’s Girls had a decidedly chill non-revelation about an abortion. The morbidly funny web series Ctrl Alt Delete even relocates its zippy workplace slapstick to an abortion clinic, with mothers receiving what doctors call an” evacuation of the uterus “.
Earlier this year, Netflix’s UK sex-positive comedy Sex Education took a de-stigmatising view of abortion as a part of life, but it also doubled down on one lasting TV cliche: the disadvantaged, pink-haired teenager( played by Emma Mackey ), strolling into an abortion clinic without a boyfriend or stable family unit.
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