Here’s a new oxymoron, even for the liberal media: abortion comedy.
Opening this Friday, writer-director Gillian Robespierre’s “Obvious Child” tells the story of an aspiring young comedian, Donna Stern, who has an abortion after a one-night stand. The film, which focuses on “self-discovery and empowerment” and the “realities of independent womanhood,” garnered endorsements not only from Planned Parenthood and NARAL, but also the media as an “abortion romantic comedy.” The film starring Jenny Slate (“SNL,” “Parks and Recreation”) caught the attention of distributor A24 after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
As The New York Times’ Megan Angelo revealed, Robespierre’s film is a reaction against movies like “Juno” and “Knocked Up,” where unplanned pregnancies resulted in positive birth stories. According to Robespierre, those films became a “misrepresentation of women on screen when it came to unplanned pregnancy” and “just didn’t feel true.” In other words, she couldn’t imagine letting her infant live. Continues after the video.
The “abortion romantic comedy,” according to Angelo, “represents a turning point for how the procedure [abortion], pregnancy and women are depicted on film.” Or, in other words, “Donna does not consult the man (played by Jake Lacy) who impregnated her during a one-night stand” and “never wavers on her course of action.” Angelo also noted how “the cameras also accompany her into the clinic” during the abortion. Sounds inspirational!
But "Our film is not an agenda movie in any way," actress Jenny Slate emphasized to Rolling Stone. "The whole point is that women have this procedure, and they should have it safely, and it's a part of life.” A part that happens to come with a huge dollop of death, but never mind.
The film certainly fit others’ agendas though. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards tweeted about the “incredibly funny, honest & smart movie about abortion” while Planned Parenthood itself tweeted, “So excited!” But then, RH Reality Check revealed that, “the filmmakers worked closely with Planned Parenthood to depict an abortion experience accurately and positively.”
Not to be left out, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue also turned to Twitter to invite followers to join her for a “special screening” on June 2.
Obviously, lefty media types were enthusiastic. Variety’s Peter Debruge described the film as “uproarious” and “refreshingly honest” while Salon’s Prachi Gupta gushed over the “honest, real, and raw comedy.” Moviefone’s Drew Taylor added “it’s hilarious, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s totally genius.” Fem site Bustle’s Alicia Lutes gushed, “I think the modern romantic comedy we’ve been so desperately waiting for, has arrived.”
Indiewire’s Beth Hanna called the movie “heartwarming, romantic and very funny” and, in a similar review, Indiewire’s Eric Kohn detailed how “‘Obvious Child’ glides along with the sustained goofiness of a polished studio-produced comedy…except it's a lot funnier, and more honest, than any female-centric cinema produced in Hollywood today.”
To entice an audience, feminist blog Jezebel offered 50 screening passes to the “abortion rom com.” Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies “loved it” and Slate’s “incredibly raw and moving performance.” Defy Media’s Crushable offered the same screening opportunities as writer Jenni Maier advised that the film was “not only the best abortion rom-com I’ve ever seen, but it’s also the best movie I’ve seen so far this year.”
— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.