Last month, Fox premiered a new “reality” TV show called Labor of Love. The show, hosted by former Sex and the City star Kristin Davis, features a 41-year-old single woman named Kristy Katzmann who is looking to “start a family.” But in place of the traditional, prosaic way of going about this goal, iconically expressed in the old nursery rhyme — “First comes love; then comes marriage; then comes baby in a baby carriage!” — Katzmann’s pursuit is decidedly “progressive.” Davis, as host, expresses it this way: Katzmann and her chosen would-be mate will “skip the dating and go straight to baby-making.” In a similar vein, in a “First Look” video promoted by Fox, the tag-line is, “Love Is Optional, Labor Is Mandatory.”
In the very first episode, viewers witness this “getting right to the point” motif in one of the very first “tasks” the men have to fulfill: they file one-by-one into a mobile collection center to provide a sperm sample to be analyzed and presented to Katzmann for consideration. At least shows like The Bachelor (which, I will admit, I’ve never seen, but which has seeped enough into our collective cultural consciousness for me to understand some of the references to it) make a pretense of traditional romance, what with the giving of a “rose” and intimate dating-related adventures. Here, there’s about as much romance as there is in hog breeding.
The dehumanizing and disgusting treatment of men as brutal farm studs should be obvious enough to anyone with an ounce of decency, but if it requires emphasis or further convincing, just imagine if the shoe were on the other foot. Imagine a show where a man is set to choose a would-be mother for his child, in the first episode of which the women contestants’ eggs were harvested. The network would be filing its bankruptcy papers before the first ad break!
Of course, the show is simply following in a well-carved path blazed by the sexual revolutionaries of the 1960s and those who have since taken up that awful banner. The idea of the separation of sex from marriage and procreation is the poisoned seed that has brought forth so much awful and rotten fruit troubling our society today, from the disregard of the dignity of life in abortion to the problem of absentee fatherhood and broken families with its incumbent harm on children to the redefinition of marriage as a genderless and impermanent relationship centered on the desires of adults rather than the rights of kids. Labor of Love epitomizes all of this. Entertainment Weekly has called the show “baby-centric,” but the reality is that this “reality” show is anything but “baby-centric” — the real baby seems to have been given little thought at all.
One fails to find much sympathy with or pity for the adults who have decided to participate in this horrifying spectacle, but the heart breaks when one remembers that a real child’s life and future will be shaped by the outcome of this farce. It chills the blood to imagine that child coming of age and learning the circumstances under which he or she was brought into this world: via loveless, dehumanizing charade shamelessly paraded in front of millions of viewers. That child yet-to-be is the one and only person connected with the production of this show who is totally faultless and blameless. As for everyone else, right down to the last cameraman or set designer, they should be absolutely and completely ashamed of themselves.