The pregnancy plot device on TV shows is a tried and true method to spice up a season or make a season finale that much more juicy. Whether the show is a comedy, drama, or something in between, chances are, a pregnancy storyline has popped up at some point to give the series a little oomph when it was needed. Sometimes, TV pregnancies can be totally over the top, but there are other times when there are TV pregnancies that actually get it right.
Like when Ruth got an abortion on Netflix GLOW, for example. The way she went about the decision to go through with it made total sense for her and although her pregnancy storyline was short-lived, it was plenty realistic for her circumstances. There was also Bailey’s pregnancy on Grey’s Anatomy, which didn’t entail any dramatic symptoms, but seemed like your run of the mill pregnancy for the most part. And on a show where patients arrive to the hospital with bombs in their chest, that’s really saying something.
There are plenty of TV pregnancies that are far from realistic, but these are easily some of the TV pregnancies that got it right and didn't leave viewers feeling like they were cheated out of a quality storyline.
Everything about Working Moms on Netflix shows what it’s like to be a mom today, whether you work full-time or are only out of the house half of the time to work a few hours each day. And when Anne, whose baby isn't quite a year old, discovers that she’s pregnant once again, she is understandably unsure about what to do. As a mom already, viewers might expect her to be overjoyed, but the reality is that it’s not always the best time, regardless of where you are in life.
How I Met Your Mother
Robin went through a roller coaster of emotions in Season 7 when she grappled with the possibility that she could be pregnant with Barney’s baby. While she tried to allow that to sink in and what it would mean for her future, she found out that she wasn't, in fact, pregnant, and that she may not be able to have kids at all. It might not be a sure fire pregnancy storyline, but it did go through some realistic motions.
One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill dealt with another stereotypical teen pregnancy when Haley got pregnant during her senior year of high school. She even went into labor during her valedictorian speech. But when she told her husband, Nathan, that she was pregnant right after he told her that he was accepted into Duke, he didn't act the way she had hoped. In fact, he walked out on her. They might have eventually had their happy ending, but Haley’s pregnancy and the drama that surrounded it was pretty legit.
The Walking Dead
I will never understand why characters on The Walking Dead of all shows have babies. The apocalypse is no place for a crying newborn. But when Lori got pregnant, it was pretty legit. Unexpected pregnancies are very real and hers was as unexpected as you can get. She also died during childbirth, which is also pretty realistic, given the circumstances under which she went into labor.
This is another pregnancy storyline that wasn't exactly a pregnancy, but that TV got right. On Friends, Monica and Chandler struggled to have a baby for a long time before they finally found out that because of his sperm count and speed and her uterus, it just wasn't in the cards for them. They later adopted twins and it turned out great for them, but sometimes getting pregnant as soon as you’re ready to stop using birth control just doesn't happen.
Early in the series, Ruth discovers that she’s pregnant by her former best friend’s husband. It’s a whole thing. She decides to get an abortion because of the dire circumstances. But, as she explains quietly but confidently in the episode, "It's not the right time. Not the right baby." And sometimes, that is the honest truth when a woman makes this decision for herself and her body.
Netflix’s series about teenagers and their sexual exploits, Sex Education, talks about everything from oral sex to performance issues in teenage boys. And in one episode in the show’s first season, a teenage girl went to a clinic for an abortion. She went through the emotional experience without saying much about it and with little outside support, but sometimes, that’s the way it is and what is necessary for women to move past it.
Both of Temperance's pregnancies on Bones were done pretty well. As in, they weren't used to make things more dramatic for her or to turn her into a weird cravings monster or caricature of herself. She remained pretty much the same during both pregnancies and I say that’s a win for Bones.
Pam’s first pregnancy during The Office Season 6 could have verged on the ridiculous, given that this is The Office, but it remained pretty true to real life. When she and Jim toured a preschool and Pam involuntarily threw up in the office because of Dwight’s hard boiled eggs at his desk, it was all pretty spot on without being too much.
Sex And The City
Miranda was probably the last person fans expected to get pregnant on Sex and the City, but when she did, she was still very much Miranda. She maintained her career and her strong opinions and sometimes when you’re pregnant, you really are the exact same person, but with another person living inside of you.
After months of hoping for a positive pregnancy test, Carla found out she was pregnant in Season 5 of Scrubs. Only, instead of finding out for herself after peeing on a stick, it was her husband, Turk, who found the test in the garbage after the allotted time had passed and saw the positive result. He got to break the news to everyone himself and it was pretty adorable. But I will never not wait the full 2-5 minutes before checking a home pregnancy test again.
This Is Us
Rebecca’s pregnancy on This Is Us has been shown in different flashbacks, so it's more of a fragmented pregnancy storyline. Still, there is something to be said for the way her triplet pregnancy progresses and how she feels increasingly uncomfortable as any expectant mom would. And it’s not in an over the top and overly dramatic way, but rather the natural course of things as your body continues to stretch to accommodate multiple babies.
When Bailey was pregnant with Tuck, it was a definite case of poor timing. She was on the verge of getting a fellowship at a highly rated hospital when, after years of trying for a baby, she finally got pregnant. She complained about her symptoms for about two minutes before she went on with the rest of her pregnancy and for some women, that’s how it goes.
Jane The Virgin
The way the title character on Jane the Virgin becomes pregnant, by being accidentally artificially inseminated by her gynecologist, isn't exactly realistic, but her pregnancy itself is pretty legit. It has all of the trappings of your run of the mill pregnancy despite Jane being a virgin at the same time.
The Office (Again)
Pam got pregnant again during The Office Season 8. This time, the actress who plays Pam, Jenna Fischer, was pregnant in real life at the same time and on the show, Pam went through all of the emotions Fischer was likely feeling as a mom in real life. In other words, Pam went through feelings of insecurity, worrying about her husband checking out younger women, and how her body would return to its pre-pregnancy shape afterward.
Both Dina and Amy got pregnant around the same time on Superstore, but Amy’s experience was probably more accurate to how it really feels to be accidentally pregnant with terrible health insurance. She didn't dwell on her discomfort or pain during pregnancy, but Amy was everyone who ever worked up until they gave birth and had zero maternity leave to fall back on.
Haley found out that she’s pregnant with not one, but two babies on Modern Family Season 10. She was rightfully terrified about caring for two newborns at once and although she wasn't a teen mom, she already had all of the common concerns that first time moms feel.
Grey's Anatomy (Again)
Sometimes, TV pregnancies take a tragic turn. April’s first pregnancy on Grey’s Anatomy results in the death of their newborn die to brittle bone disease and it as totally heartbreaking. The storyline showed that sometimes, a pregnancy can have unexpected and horrific changes and while it was no one’s fault in this instance, it is very real.
On Reba, teen mom Cheyenne gets pregnant as a high school cheerleader and the storyline has all of the troupes of your stereotypical pregnancy teen on TV. As the storyline progresses, however, it does show some of the realistic struggles of being a pregnant teenager, like when Cheyenne's boyfriend’s family kicks him out for staying by her side and when she struggles to maintain her life before getting pregnant.
Parks And Recreation
I didn't love all of the over the top complaining Anne did toward the end of her pregnancy on Parks and Recreation, but it was pretty accurate. I, too, know the struggles of being pregnant and having swollen ankles, feet, and hands. And the food cravings can be totally overpowering, so Anne’s pregnancy was written pretty accurately.
There were a handful of pregnancies on Scandal over the years, but one that probably stands out for a lot of viewers is Olivia’s. A baby never really fit into Olivia’s life plans, though, and it wouldn't have made sense to have her character suddenly take that route. Instead, she made the choice to have an abortion and she remained strong throughout the entire thing.
Pregnancy storylines come in all shapes and sizes. They might center on a couple with fertility issues or include the reality of having an abortion with little outside support. And other times, TV pregnancies show the happier side of growing a tiny human in your body for 40 weeks. It’s easy to gloss over the details on a TV show where a lot of other stuff is happening at the same time, but these particular pregnancies were pretty much on the nose.