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What's wrong with "The Baby Borrowers," anyway?

This post has been moved to my other blog, The Road to Black. To post a comment, visit the link.

An anonymous commenter on my first post about "The Baby Borrowers" remarked that he or she felt the show is a "fantastic idea." He or she suggested that I "find out just what precautions were taken before these babies were 'borrowed'--- No parents would just willingly hand over there (sic) child for NO money, which I hear is exactly what happened. NO ONE was paid to do this."

So just what is my problem, anyway? Why don't I just lighten up? What about all the good the show will do?

Let's consider:

1. The show will help teenagers.
The show puts unmarried teenage couples into the same house to live as if they are married. It presents this arrangement as socially acceptable and no big deal, which ignores the fact that living together before marriage increases the statistical odds of divorce if the couple later marries. It puts girls in a position to be used by their boyfriends, as in the crude old saying, "Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?" You don't have to consider cohabitation immoral to see this as a problem; these kids, while legally adults, are still very, very young to be thrust into an arrangement that is so frequently problematic even for mature adults.

2. It's not TV, it's birth control.
NBC's slogan seems to promise that the TV program is meant to reduce teen pregnancy. It's not; that's a marketing gimmick. It's meant to sell sponsors' products by drawing viewers with the most lurid and shocking content possible -- just like all reality TV shows. Consider this: The first thing you see on the official "The Baby Borrowers" website is a poll about which teen couples stay together. That's not about preventing teen pregnancy. And later in the show, the couples will have to take care of an elderly person. That's not about preventing teen pregnancy. For that matter, having teenage couples cohabitating is not about preventing teen pregnancy.

3. The producers were very careful to make sure nobody got hurt.
Why does the graphic above use the inflammatory word "kidnappers"? Why such over-the-top language? Because I am describing the show from the babies' and toddlers' point of view. As Jan Hunt said in her open letter to NBC, "Sudden removal from their parents and placement with strangers for long periods of time is from a baby's point of view no different than a kidnapping." She continues, "It has been well-established that babies who suddenly lose their primary caregiver can quickly go into mourning and emotional depression." Causing a tiny child, who is just beginning to learn whether adults can be trusted, to grieve the loss of his families does hurt the child. I am sure the parents of the children on the show believed their children would not be harmed, but I am also sure that they are mistaken. I have seen for myself how a baby (my adopted son) grieves the loss of his primary caregivers. There are few things more heart-wrenching than a baby who won't eat because he is too sad.

It is tragic to me that it is too late to prevent the filming of the series. But I take hope in the possibility that viewer response -- or lack thereof (it's all about ratings) -- will prevent another season from being recorded.

Don't watch "The Baby Borrowers"!

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artfulfrog said...
May 31, 2008 at 11:29 AM  

I don't think all NBC stations broadcast that show. I have never even heard of it here.

Anonymous said...
June 17, 2008 at 6:41 PM  

Are you kidding me with this??? You took the time out your life to actually post the sponsors of the show so you could boycott a reality television experiment?? Proudly, I was one of the mom's who loaned her baby to this show, and have no regrets about it. My baby was perfectly safe, not harmed, and being watched 24/7 by not only myself but a large number of crew, producers, and NBC psychologists they had on had to make sure each child was not in any serious distress.

Why don't you go back to writing about Wife swap, and get back to the latest episode of "The Hills" and blog about that, since you like to waste time on useless things with this blog. Give me a break....

Ginkgo100 said...
June 17, 2008 at 9:17 PM  


Since you say you are proud to be one of the moms on the show, you must be happy with the experience. I am glad you enjoyed it. I hope your child did too, and that no trust between you was damaged.

I am sorry to see that you feel insults are the way to refute what I said. You'll note that I consider those arguments to avoid: a sneer is not an argument and it does not matter what you think of me.

Anonymous said...
June 18, 2008 at 3:08 PM  

That last statement was one of the most profound things you've said about this to date.

I was not insulting, I was simply pointing out the obvious.

And with that, it does not matter what you think of me as well. Nor, what you think of NBC, or the show, because it will still help people whether you want it to or not. And it will get viewers for those who have an open mind and are optimistic about what the show can do for teens.

Sneer that.

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