Births happen on TV all the time. It’s a well-worn plot device for a reason: a new life coming into the world is inherently dramatic and exciting, and the image of a parent holding a new baby is a perfect way to end an episode or a season. But in reality, birth, like so many things, is both messier and slower than on television. Most shows can’t capture that, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine is special and managed to make birth funny and real in a truly great way.
Now, for a bit of background, I’ll share that I’ve given birth. Sixteen hours of natural labor were the literal hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the kid I got at the end of it has turned out pretty cool, so it was worth it. But as someone who’s had a kid, when I watch movies or shows now where a woman goes into labor and is immediately rushed to a hospital and yet somehow has her kid five minutes after her water breaks, I roll my eyes.
But Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s season seven finale, where Amy Santiago gave birth to her son with Jake Peralta, was different. She went into labor at the complete worst time, during a blackout and had to keep working through it. This happens. Women all over have to deal with life when we go into labor, and the thing is … it’s possible because labor takes forever.
In so many ways, Brooklyn Nine-Nine got labor right, even in the gross ways. I never thought I’d hear the words “mucus plug” or “bloody show” on a network sitcom, but there it was. And as icky as that stuff is, they found a way to make it funny while being sensitive which is a balancing act that’s a specialty of this show.
I could tell that people were writing this who had either done their research or been through a real labor. The fact that Melissa Fumero was legitimately pregnant with her second child also made a difference and I’m sure she was able to tap into some of her own memory and circumstances for the performance.
As Amy went through the pain of labor, powering through the pain, and waiting for things to really get going, it was real but still funny and heartfelt. I loved seeing Rosa step in to help, and the parallel story of Jake trying desperately to get back to the precinct to be there for Amy was also everything that made the show great: funny, random, caring, and full of perfectly timed and crafted jokes.
Giving birth is hard and slow, and it’s rare to see a show that gets that while also touching on how it’s scary and messy and can be wildly inconvenient. But in the end you end up with a kid! And just like Amy, you’ll wonder if you’re prepared. But it’s okay if you’re not, because this needy little thing that just came into the world in the grossest and most difficult way possible is suddenly the most important person in the world. Your offspring will probably not emerge as a clean, clearly many months old baby actor like Jake and Amy’s, but you will love them and that’s the most important part.
(Photo by: Jordin Althaus/NBC)
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