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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?
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"!