Was involved a brewpub beer & pretzel discussion last night about how television series have historically dealt with female cast members getting pregnant during filming schedules. One camp maintained the industry has become more enlightened with the passing decades and are more inclined to write pregnancies into the story line or write temporary absences into the script with the actress returning later, whereas another camp was convinced, no that’s not really the case and producers are as ready as ever to simply replace the actress.
The thing that became clear to me at least was that the proponents of both views didn’t support their arguments with very many examples. Bones and Bewitched were two shows that came up, as well as a couple of soap operas. But this is where you folks come in - can you identify tv shows - from any era - where major female characters became pregnant in real life and how did the producers deal with it? Did they replace the actress with another to play the same role? Eliminate that role or character from the story? Significantly alter the filming schedule? Resort to doing lots of head and shoulder shots and baggy outfits? Write the pregnancy into the script? End the series entirely?
Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation) was pregnant during shooting of the show’s fourth season (1990-91). Her character wasn’t portrayed as pregnant; they used a lot of loose lab coats, and shots of Dr. Crusher standing behind lab tables, to conceal it.
If memory serves, she had the baby after shooting concluded for the season, so there was no issue with her missing production time, and she returned for the next season.
Ironically, McFadden had, in fact, been fired from the show before becoming pregnant – she was fired after the first season, due to the showrunner not liking her; when her replacement (Diana Muldaur) failed to generate any chemistry with the rest of the cast, McFadden was asked to return for the third season.
Further digging – this was exactly the case. Her son was born on June 10, 1991; TNG likely finished shooting for that season in May (the season finale aired on June 15), and shooting for the next season probably didn’t resume until August. Fortuitous timing of the pregnancy.
Andrea Brooks from Supergirl just had a baby. In the latest episode that just aired she is quite visibly pregnant, although they tried to hide it by making her wear baggy clothes as well as a loose coat. There were also a lot of shots from the shoulders up.
Wait wait wait, you’re burying the lede here Cardigan. Tell us more about the brewpub beer and pretzels.
Anyway, I don’t remember seeing actresses getting replaced, thought I imagine it’s happened in the long history of television. What I mostly remember is the show either trying to awkwardly hide the pregnancy or write it into the story. In addition to the examples above, Roxann Dawson was pregnant during the fourth season of Star Trek Voyager and they just had her in a giant oversized coat. Also Debra Messing was pregnant during Will and Grace and they made it into a storyline about her being fat and Zooey Deschanel was pregnant during New Girl and they had her in bed, behind a juror’s bench, and sequestered to hide her belly.
I haven’t seen House of Lies but according to the link below, they CGI’d Kristen Bell’s belly out when she was pregnant, which I imagine there will now be more of as CGI is so prevalent.
McMillan and Wife: SSJ’s pregnancies was written into the show, but the kid(s)* never were seen once, nor even mentioned.
*She was pregnant twice, one child was mentioned as having died along with Sally at the beginning of season 6, but there never was any evidence that there ever was a child (cue mystery music!)
Monk: when Traylor Howard got pregnant, her character Natalie was not. They hid her behind things a lot, sometimes with a wink-wink to the audience, except for the one episode where Natalie pretended to be pregnant.
Law and Order Criminal Intent: when Kathryn Erbe got pregnant, her character was written as having decided to be a surrogate mom.
L&O:CI again: When Julianne Nicholson was pregnant, they had the baby be a story arc, and be fathered by her international money laundering fiancee.
USA had a TV show called White Collar a few (or, wow, more than a few) years ago. Basically a buddy cop show except one cop is an international art thief and the other is the FBI agent who caught him. The actress who played the FBI agent’s wife, who was a pretty major character on the show, got pregnant. They sent the character abroad and only had her show up in brief scenes where she was on yhe phone with her husband, and they used some very obvious CGI to mask her pregnancy during those scenes.
As it happens I was not one of those holding that view. In fact I pressed the guy making that claim for an example and his response was “back in the 50’s and 60’s they’d just get a new actress to play the role. This happened all the time on soap operas like Guiding Light or As the World Turns. Actors were a dime a dozen.” When further pressed he couldn’t remember the specific characters as “it was a long time ago”. This lack of specific examples is one of the reasons why I wanted to start this thread. I’m not saying this never happened as I’m really not familiar with soap operas, but I’m not aware of a single instance where it did.
Not a TV show, but this was the approach that was used on the film Wonder Woman; Gal Gadot was pregnant during production, though apparently not far enough along to show during principal photography. However, by the time that they were doing re-shoots, she was visibly pregnant, so they used a green cloth on her belly, and edited out the baby bump in post-production.
When Marcia Cross, who played Bree on Desperate Housewives, became pregnant, her character was written out of the show for a few months’ worth of episodes in the third season. Ironically, when the character returned, she was sporting a baby bump in public (though it was fake, only her immediate family knew at that point in the show’s run).
Brooklyn Nine-Nine had a fairly creative solution. When Melissa Fumero was pregnant they wrote a story line where her character, Amy Santiago, went on an undercover assignment portraying a woman who was pregnant. So they had a pregnant woman pretending to be a non-pregnant woman who was pretending to be a pregnant woman.
Kaitlin Olsen was pregnant during shooting of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Being pregnant is very contrary to the character, but they did a very funny story arc about it where she wouldn’t tell anyone how she got pregnant and it drove the guys nuts. It ended up that she was a surrogate, she just let the guys stew about it for a few episodes and didn’t reveal until the baby was born.