Proposal Title

Womb for Rent: The Politics of Surrogacy Storylines on Sitcom Reboots

Presenter Information

Reut Odinak, Boston UniversityFollow

Start Date

June 2022

End Date

June 2022

Abstract

Over the past twenty years, American television producers have created a slew of series which explore surrogacy. Roseanne’s tenth season (ABC 1988-1997, 2018) and Fuller House (Netflix 2016-2020) are reboots of popular sitcoms which feature surrogacy storylines. Both reemerged in a politically polarized context where reproductive rights, particularly abortion, have been perpetually debated and a growing commercial fertility industry has increased the availability of assisted reproductive technology (ART) like surrogacy. These developments usher in profound questions which ask us to reimagine how we form families, determine parenthood, and understand motherhood. My project considers how Roseanne and Fuller House respond to these trends through their depictions of surrogacy.

I situate my paper within feminist television criticism drawing from motherhood studies and feminist philosophy to ask: How have these reboots reconfigured themselves to address surrogacy? What moral meanings and social implications emerge from these representations? How do they illuminate and reshape broader values about pregnancy, motherhood, and families? I find that Fuller House and Roseanne, respectively, reflect feminist philosophical arguments that support and oppose surrogacy. Fuller House represents surrogacy as an altruistic practice that aids in creating families, while Roseanne characterizes it as immoral and unnatural. Though seemingly opposing one another, I argue that together these series uphold and idealize the traditional, nuclear, and biological family. Media representations of surrogacy are under-theorized but, ultimately, are imperative to examine because of their power to shape, subvert, and reinvent discourses around the family, motherhood, and reproductive rights evident in American culture.

Bio

With a background in Women and Gender Studies and Film and Television Studies, my research examines how media represents the reproductive body in terms of sexuality, agency, and purpose. In the American Studies doctoral program, I focus on depictions of the maternal body and its intersection with surrogacy and sex work.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Jun 23rd, 10:00 AM Jun 23rd, 11:30 AM

Womb for Rent: The Politics of Surrogacy Storylines on Sitcom Reboots

Over the past twenty years, American television producers have created a slew of series which explore surrogacy. Roseanne’s tenth season (ABC 1988-1997, 2018) and Fuller House (Netflix 2016-2020) are reboots of popular sitcoms which feature surrogacy storylines. Both reemerged in a politically polarized context where reproductive rights, particularly abortion, have been perpetually debated and a growing commercial fertility industry has increased the availability of assisted reproductive technology (ART) like surrogacy. These developments usher in profound questions which ask us to reimagine how we form families, determine parenthood, and understand motherhood. My project considers how Roseanne and Fuller House respond to these trends through their depictions of surrogacy.

I situate my paper within feminist television criticism drawing from motherhood studies and feminist philosophy to ask: How have these reboots reconfigured themselves to address surrogacy? What moral meanings and social implications emerge from these representations? How do they illuminate and reshape broader values about pregnancy, motherhood, and families? I find that Fuller House and Roseanne, respectively, reflect feminist philosophical arguments that support and oppose surrogacy. Fuller House represents surrogacy as an altruistic practice that aids in creating families, while Roseanne characterizes it as immoral and unnatural. Though seemingly opposing one another, I argue that together these series uphold and idealize the traditional, nuclear, and biological family. Media representations of surrogacy are under-theorized but, ultimately, are imperative to examine because of their power to shape, subvert, and reinvent discourses around the family, motherhood, and reproductive rights evident in American culture.