What's Safe or Scary On-Screen if You're Expecting

Tina Fey, left, and Amy Poehler star in
Tina Fey, left, and Amy Poehler star in "Baby Mama," which depicts pregnancy as fun and wacky. (By K.c. Bailey)
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By Sarah Schmelling
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, April 27, 2008

I knew pregnancy would change a lot of things in my life. I didn't know it would make me a bad movie-watching companion.

Then I saw "Juno," and two-thirds of the way through, I started sobbing uncontrollably, complete with giant gasps that made me sound like an injured donkey.

Yes, I know it's a comedy.

What triggered this? I can't say. I remember someone was having a baby, and things were said to the person who was having the baby. But I can't tell you why this led me to lose all sense of social decorum.

I realized then that a fine line exists between entertainment suitable for mothers-to-be and stuff we should avoid. Beyond being overcome with unbridled sappiness, we also are at risk of seeing delivery experiences that will only make us insane. (Or more insane than hormones and having our midsections groped by strangers already do.)

Other first-timers might not be like me. They might be able to, ahem, stomach a lot more. But now that I'm nearing the finish line, I find that I could have used a guide to the good and the bad in baby media. Even the just-out film "Baby Mama" (another comedy) has its mom-beware moments, with characters reading a book called "101 Things That Can Go Wrong With Your Pregnancy" and watching a shudder-worthy "extreme deliveries" DVD. And if you have cable TV -- especially TLC and the Discovery Health channels -- baby shows can be omnipresent. With that in mind, here are some entertainment ratings for moms-to-be.

Rated G (Gestation Approved)

"Bringing Home Baby"

What: TLC series. Repeat episodes weekdays at 10 and 10:30 a.m., as well as 3 and 3:30 p.m.

Premise: Cameras follow a couple during the first 36 hours with their baby at home. Weeks later, the show checks in to see how the family is faring.

Rating reasoning: These parents often have no idea what they're doing. Men refer to the baby as "it," run errands to avoid poopy diapers, look at their wives as though they're from Mars or resort to hiding with their "first baby," the dog, in the garage. The women usually look understandably tired, and an all-knowing grandma is almost always on the scene, cooking meals and smirking. Then somehow they all survive and seem overwhelmed with joy. And though it's disconcerting to learn that almost no infant naturally knows how to breast-feed or sleep, seeing that people can do this while being so clueless provides hope to us all.

Take-home lesson: Get Grandma over to cook. She can smirk all she wants; I'll be too tired to care, and Daddy may just be in the garage.

"Baby Mama"

What: Movie starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (rated PG-13). In area theaters.

Premise: A 37-year-old, career-focused woman named Kate hires a surrogate who ends up hijacking her apartment, her "American Idol" karaoke game and her life.


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