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|:HOME:|:RANTS:|:SEPTEMBER 29, 1999:
"A Fine Mess"
SEPTEMBER 29, 1999

There are, of course, oodles of WHYs to discuss in terms of tonight's show.... Why does Lawyer Boy wear those hiddy sweater vests ("No he's not retarded!" - Sixteen Candles)? Why is EVERYONE on the show, not just Dylan, suckin' down the drinks now? Why did Davy go to some office-whatever in the first place, and why would anyone, I mean ANYONE, in this day and age use the phrase "number one with a bullet," especially about a radio DJ instead of, say, a song on the Billboard Top 40? Unless, of course, the "bullet" bit was a sort of wishful thinking in regards to having to have a meeting with Davy Silver anyway.

But I digress.

The biggest WHYs, at least to me, are:

  1. Why is Janet having this baby?
  2. Why is the show presenting unwed and unplanned pregnancy as if it's just a simple little roadblock in a relationship, not to mention putting out a lot of irresponsible messages re: parenthood that piss me off to no end?

I know, I know, "Dwanollah, get a grip, it's just a TV show," but Parenthood is one of my hot buttons, as I might've made evident in previous Rants and Let's Write Our Own Episodes.

(Sudden thought: did the Lurking 90210 Writers come up with this plot just to get me ranting? I mean, there was no build-up to pregnancy in the previous season, right? Picture it... a hot SoCal summer day... the board room, though, is wonderfully air-conditioned. Writers, directors, producers, whoever, are all gathered around their polished mahogany meeting table, staring with rapt attention at the projection of a computer web page on the wall in front of them. "See," says Someone Important who is leading the meeting, using a laser pointer to indicate a paragraph, "this is where she gives yet another one of her lectures on responsible parenthood in this scene with Brandon and Kelly." "Uh huh" "Ah" "I see," murmur the Other People. And the Meeting Leader says "I predict that if we build a storyline around an unplanned pregnancy, and get this opinionated freak all riled up about actual events on the show, instead of the fictional episodes she's been focused on, then all four of the people who read her WHY lists on this Board would start watching the show again!" And everyone else beams in delight and exclaim "Why, that would double our audience!")

Sorry. I was letting my Inner Brandon run free.

Seriously, though, the whole baby/marriage thing - complete with the requisite "We're so different that we're a perfect match!" bullshit - made me wish I had the benefit of last week's heavy dose of drowse-inducing sinus medication. And the portrayals of parents and parenthood made me go back to considering my Huxley/Atwood-esque notion of the Birth Control Switch being installing in individuals at birth, and only activated after several years of parenting classes.

Let's start with the minor players first, hnn? Judy, LawyerBoy's Client Mama. Okay, on the surface, we've got the bitter custody battle that sweetly resolves because the couple had just hit a "rough spot" in their marriage but are now committed to working it out. Aww, huh?

Not in my world.

Nope. You've got the mother, who has, we can assume, at least several months in the past (since custody/visitation rights had already been established) put into motion the actions that would challenge her husband's access to their sons. She makes reference to restraining orders, her husband's temper, and times that they've fought (as, LawyerBoy might say, to set a precedence that would make for a stronger sole custody case). The logical conclusion, to me, anyway, is HOW MANY TIMES HAVE THE CHILDREN HAD TO WITNESS MOMMY AND DADDY HAVING BIG FIGHTS? Do you know what it does to a child to be put in the middle of a separation/divorce like this? Did anyone ask the kids "Hey, how would you feel about never seeing your daddy again, because your mommy's really pissed at him?" Was any consideration given to the trauma that the children on the receiving end of this custody battle would inevitably go through? 'Course not! It wasn't part of the story! They don't need to show that part!

Not only that, but Mama's more than willing to have a fling with an old high school flame, also divorced and with children of his own, without considering the possible long-term effects of blending families- But this doesn't matter, right, because it all worked out in the end, huh? Mommy and Daddy got back together!

Great. And now those two kids can wonder when it's going to fall apart again, and, next time Mommy and Daddy have a fight, they can worry that Mommy's going to throw Daddy out and start being with another man, or that Daddy's going to leave and, for whatever reason, they might not be able to see him again if Mommy's really mad at him. And as they grow older, they can take comfort in the fact that the two people who are supposed to provide them stability and unconditional love were more than willing to play out their personal grievances with each other through them, that is, through the children.

And... WHY DIDN'T ANYONE QUESTION THE HUSBAND'S SUPPOSED VOLITALE TEMPER? I guess sense Mommy and Daddy're gonna live "happily ever after," the whole "temper" thing doesn't matter anymore either, does it?

Now on to the main characters: Stevie Sanders and Counterfeit Janet.

I was deeply touched by Stevie's emotional plight when he emotionally declared: "No one's ever going to have YOUR (emphasis mine) child without your permission! No one's ever going to have YOUR child without you!"

Okay, first of all, dickhead, it isn't just YOUR child. It's half Janet's, too. And, since she's the one who is physically pregnant with it, she has a little bit more invested in the whole "having the child" process. Second, and I know it's too late, but, THAT'S WHAT BIRTH CONTROL PREVENTS, YOU FUCKING LOSER! That is why you NEVER EVER EVER EVER TAKE A CHANCE BY NOT USING BIRTH CONTROL EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU HAVE SEX! (This PSA is brought to you by a rather incensed Dwanollah.) And, of course, even that doesn't prove 100% effective. I think about my cousin's soon-to-be ex husband, also named Steve, when I was visiting the family this summer, was giving a ha-ha account of his offspring. "How many kids do you have?" someone had asked him, and he laughed and said "Too many!" before launching into the "my son, and my wife's daughter, and then our two sons" thingie. "Too many" kids, huh? Ha ha ha. How cute and funny! My urge was, as it usually is where he is involved, to pap him upside his big fat forehead and say "That's why you should USE BIRTH CONTROL!" But he doesn't like condoms. They're icky. And my cousin kept "meaning" to go get her tubes tied, but didn't have time.... Bingo. Four kids by age 23, and with a father who lies constantly, steals money, hasn't held down a job in over a year, drinks too much, and is physically and verbally abusive.

Let's think about the environment that those four kids get to grow up in. Nice, huh?

I was also fond of the line uttered by an indignant Dyl-head: "She wants your kid, but she doesn't want you?" That's the joy of having a baby, especially when it's unplanned... regardless of what your plans for the future were, you are now going to be linked FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE to the person who fathered this child. End of story.

See, that's what really grated on me when Kelly and Donna, sighing winsomely after The Fighting Parents stormed off, reflected sadly and romantically about marriage and relationships and how "nothing lasts forever." Um, hello, you dumb bunnies, but PARENTHOOD LASTS FOREVER! No matter what happens with the Fighting Parents or Stevie and Counterfeit Janet, there are still children to be considered! What about them? What about their needs? MAYBE YOU SHOULD'VE TAKEN THAT INTO CONSIDERATION BACK IN THE BEGINING, HUH?! Single parenthood - dammit, parenthood for anyone, single, married, or living in a polygamous household with 7 other mothers - isn't about having to put a crib together by yourself or being a "chick magnet" by having this cute lil' accessory. It's about having to provide emotionally all the time, about being dedicated and committed to the well-being of this little, dependent creature. Did Counterfeit Janet think about how well she could provide for this child when the stick turned pink? DID SHE?

Counterfeit Janet's whole kiddie-shopping frenzy ("There's a kids' clothing store I want to check out" and the deal about knowing ahead of time if it was a boy or a girl so things could be "the right color"... I mean, really, this whole "pink or blue" nonsense is truly pathetic!) indicates that she's not quite up to snuff re: the responsibility issue either. Like my stepmother (6 years older than me) who wanted to have a baby with my dad (terrifying in and of itself) because she wanted "a little girl to dress up and take places." This was pre-JonBenét, too. Or my cousin - yes, same cousin - who wanted to know why The Husband-Type Man and I hadn't had kids yet, why we were waiting so long, and didn't I think I was being "awfully selfish" because "you're going to be too old to play with your own children!" Uh, honey, I wouldn't be having kids in order to PLAY with them!

But back to Counterfeit Janet. According to her, Stevie is "messy... unpredictable... unreliable..."

A simple, basic question immediately comes to mind: THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU HAVING A CHILD WITH/BY SOMEONE WHO IS UNRELIABLE, YOU MORON!?

I mean, just what every kid needs, huh? An unreliable parent! Instead of buying a crib and clothes, Janet ought to be pre-paying for the kid's thrice-weekly trips to the psychologist. As some of you may already know, or might remember from past rants, about 6 years ago I found myself pregnant after a once-only fling with a co-worker who "didn't know how to tell [me]" that the condom broke. He also "didn't know how to tell [me]" he was also dating another co-worker. So, the same week that I came upon he and the Other Co-Worker making out in the breakroom, I went to the doctor's to get checked out for the nasty flu that I couldn't shake... and found out I had actually conceived a child with this kind of an irresponsible, immature, lying jerk. My decision to terminate the pregnancy was, without a doubt, one of the most grueling ones I've ever made. I mean, there I was, working at a bookstore, living at home, and trying to put myself through community college. What did I have to offer as a mother? As a single parent? I mean, I was still trying to figure out who I was! Me? A mother?

And what about this baby's father...? If I had the child, I'd have two choices... not tell Boy Wonder, "keep it to myself," as it were, and thus deny my child a father and put us in a delicate emotional position when the time finally came for it to ask me about its other parent... or tell Boy Wonder, and for the rest of my life, be legally (and, on some level, ethically and morally) obligated to entrust my child, at least part of the time, to this person who I hated, didn't trust and knew to be irresponsible - along with whoever he might chose to share his life with in the future. I'd be legally obligated, as well, to live within a reasonable distance of Boy Wonder as so not to deny him access to the child, thus curtailing my own opportunities for personal growth, perhaps making me a less-better person and parent, or making me feel bitter and resentful towards the child (even if I loved it, which, had I had it, I have no doubt that I would)....

For the rest of my life, and for the rest of this child's life, there would be the ever-present knowledge that I hated - absolutely HATED - its father.

Once again, a great emotional environment for a kid, huh?

I was not ready to be responsible as a parent to a baby. I recognized that. I did what I believed was truly best for the baby... I didn't bring it into this kind of a situation.

But in 90210land, with Captain Spelling at the helm, only bad girls have abortions, usually as "punishment." If you have the guy's baby, though, it's a sign that you're MEANT TO BE TOGETHER! Aw! Let's have a cheer for true love 'n romance!

[A footnote: this isn't to say that I think single mothers are wrong to have had their children, planned or unplanned. Single parenthood isn't what gripes me. IRRESPONSIBLE parenthood, however, is what sets me frothing at the mouth.]

But back to 90210....

P.S.: Stevie... the whole "mess" analogy for a child and family life only convinces me more that YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN STERILIZED AT BIRTH! And the "how's MY baby?" bit when you interrupted the ultrasound - who can just barge into a doctor's examining room, anyway? - was just too masculine and protective and sensitive. Let's go back to that "half Janet's baby" thing, shall we?

But, you know, it isn't just the irresponsible "It'll all work out" message about having a baby that's got me going... it's, once again, the portrayal of marriage as well. If the proposal is just right and the ring is impressive enough, then that's all that matters! Did you have doubts last night about marriage? No problem! Check out this ring! And if you're cautious about marriage, you're just a Big Fat Hairy killjoy who doesn't believe in "happily ever after"....

(Um, Kelly, I hate to be the one to burst your rosy lil' bubble, but "happy" and "happily ever after" aren't interchangeable concepts, sweetie pie. Telling LawyerBoy that he needs to look around him because he's "surrounded by happily ever after" is an even bigger steaming pile of crap than the "soulmate" shit we've heard so often. I mean, think about it.... YOU WON'T KNOW IF YOU'VE LIVED "HAPPILY EVER AFTER" UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD! Even Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, by those standards, qualify as "happily ever after!")

And, taking two big giant steps away from the whole Parenthood rant, let's talk about the continuation of homoerotic overtones in Hillsterland. I mean, how much gayer could Noah be acting, patting the band guy and cooing about groupies (just the fact that the guy's name was Chet was enough for me), and, especially, the whole ring/proposal nonsense with Steve...? I mean, grease him up and get it over with already! At least he can't get pregnant.

And someone, please, please tell Dylan "Jesus" McKay that it isn't stigmata on his hands... more like some sores he got from Gina.

And Gina, the Faux Val shtick - complete with the same room service breakfast deal we got with Val and Ray - is so boring. In fact, YOU are so boring. Is your time up yet? Go! GO!

And Donna, you're relationship with Noah is so annoying that, at this moment, I actually am LOOKING FORWARD to you dumping him for Davy. God help me.

And last of all, WHY WHY WHY do we have to wait THREE WEEKS for another episode? I wanted to have another 90210 party next week!

So, NYMediaramans, how do y'all like Felicity?