Admission: Up for an Amoral Comedy Set in a World without Abortion?
Not only is the setup a groaner (as are the tepid romance scenes between Rudd and Fey), but the movie is blithely oblivious of reality: the reason there are hardly any Jeremiahs is because smug upper-middle class women like Portia have, going back two generations, been treating unwanted fetuses as mere inconveniences to be excised and thrown away with the rest of the medical waste. For someone like Portia (or Tina Fey) to actually choose to go into hiding for several months, then undergo birth and give the child up for adoption, rather than taking the easy way out with an abortion, would be such a surprising (and brave, and honorable) choice that it seems almost beyond the ability of anyone in Hollywood to imagine such a character.
But here’s the thing: The movie doesn’t even deal with these issues. It pretends to be unaware that abortion has become simply a casual lifestyle choice. Where’s the scene where Portia says she finds all human life to be precious and that she couldn’t bear to make an innocent fetus pay for her poor judgment? There isn’t one. We receive no explanation of why Portia made the choice.
True, Portia has a shrewish mother (Lily Tomlin) who is a parody of a 1970s feminist harpy (she has a Bella Abzug tattoo on one arm, subscribes to the absurd catchphrase that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, and intentionally raised her daughter by herself after conceiving Portia by jumping a guy she barely knew on a train). The mom character (a useful reminder that Lily Tomlin is not, and never was, funny) presents an opportunity for some Family Ties style generation gap comedy between hippies and yuppies, but Portia isn’t presented as a conservative. (A right-winger on an Ivy League campus: There’s a comedy for you.) She simply comes across as a typical northeastern liberal.