Many series deal with stork reality

July 21, 2002|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,Sun Staff

With the birth of Miranda's son on Sex and the City last season, making Sarah Jessica Parker's character pregnant as well probably would have been series suicide.

So producers of the hit HBO comedy followed shows like Judging Amy, Providence and Cheers, which hid their female stars' bulges instead of writing the pregnancies into the scripts. (Of course, Parker's stylish Carrie Bradshaw character, a sex columnist, didn't allow her to don a convenient concealer -- like the baggy flowing judge's robes that helped Judging Amy's Amy Brenneman.)

But over the years, TV writers have dealt with high-profile pregnancies in a variety of ways. Here are some of the more memorable examples:

Pregnancies that enhanced storylines ...

'E.R.'

Who became preggers: Ming-Na, who plays doctor Jing-Mei Chen, and Alex Kingston, who plays doctor Elizabeth Corday -- both in the same season two years ago.

What happened: Writers quickly included Ming-Na's surprise pregnancy in the storyline. Dr. Chen gets pregnant -- a sexy ICU nurse is the dad -- and gives up her baby for adoption after much agonizing. Kingston's Dr. Corday gives birth to a baby girl; the father is Anthony Edwards' character, who just so happens to be battling a brain tumor at the same time.

'Friends'

Who became preggers: Lisa Kudrow, who plays loopy (and single) Phoebe.

What happened: Kudrow's pregnancy was written into Friends in what probably was one of the most inventive, hilarious -- albeit unbelievable -- storylines of all time. When Phoebe's brother and his wife have problems getting pregnant, they ask her to carry their child. She ends up having triplets, which writers went on to bring back a couple of times for even more laughs -- and character development.

In one side-splitting epi-sode, the friends baby-sit the triplets. Of course, stuff goes wrong -- they temporarily lose one baby, and Chandler swallows a toy.

'I Love Lucy'

Who became preggers: Lucille Ball.

What happened: CBS execs reportedly viewed Ball's condition as a "complete disaster" for the sitcom. But they ended up making lemonade when producers wrote her pregnancy into the show, and the birth episode ended up as one of the most widely watched TV telecasts of all time. Interesting coincidence: Ball's TV tot "Little Ricky" made his appearance on the same day in 1953 that she gave birth to real baby Desi.

Pregnancies that were

ignored ...

'A Different World'

Who became preggers: The show's star, Lisa Bonet.

What happened: After just one season, Bonet left A Different World to return to The Cosby Show. Producers reportedly believed it'd be easier to hide her pregnancy if she were part of an ensemble instead of the star.

'The Cosby Show'

Who became preggers: Cosby mom Phylicia Rashad.

What happened: Rashad's growing tummy was hidden behind tall plants and grocery bags.

'Seinfeld'

Who became preggers: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Jerry's sidekick Elaine.

What happened: Thank goodness for the diner booth that's the backdrop for so many Seinfeld episodes, because it provided plenty of coverage for the pregnant Louis-Dreyfus.

Pregnancies that

should have been ignored ...

'Frasier '

Who became preggers: Jane Leeves, who plays Frasier's housekeeper, Daphne.

What happened: As Leeves grew bigger, so did Daphne. And producers milked her new condition for a storyline that had Daphne eating incessantly because she was stressed over her new relationship with Niles. The downside? Fat jibes that were at times borderline insensitive.

'Melrose Place'

Who became preggers: Hunter Tylo.

What happened: Tylo had been hired to play a vixen who seduces Heather Locklear's TV husband, but she was fired before filming any scenes when she became pregnant. Producers blamed the "material change in her appearance" that would have made her unsuitable for the role. But Tylo sued for pregnancy discrimination, and a jury ordered Spelling Entertainment Group to hand over $4.9 million.

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