This week, America’s favourite co-workers-turned-lovebirds, Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer), will celebrate the birth of their faux offspring in a special one-hour baby episode of The Office.
“I’m getting a bunch of mail, like, ‘I can’t wait to see you guys have a baby, because we’re expecting,’ so I feel like we’re growing up with our fans,” says Jenna Fischer about the event.
Not since Rachel Green (played by Jennifer Aniston) became pregnant on Friends has a TV birth been so eagerly anticipated. And considering that happened in 2002, it’s been a while since a character on a popular sitcom has been seen procreating. Since most women do choose to have children, it’s interesting that pregnancy is such a missing element in today’s comedies.
“Pregnancy has never been viewed as sexy,” says Melissa Camacho, a professor of broadcasting at San Francisco State University.
“When Rachel had her baby, it wasn’t a huge plot point.”
As Sheryl Bowen, an associate professor of communications at Villanova University, puts it, “Television has an inability to show women in more than one role at more than one time.”
Female characters on TV are either sex goddesses, mothers or high-ranking professionals; rarely do all three align. And in sitcom land, we prefer watching women with no real responsibilities.
As for Pam and Jim’s baby, Camacho doubts it will become too much of an interruption on the show.
“The focus will not shift to (Jim and Pam as) a just-married working couple whose lives have just changed forever,” she says. “It’s doubtful that a baby will be seen sitting at a desk, just typing away.”