A CBS Sitcom Elevates the Dignity of Life in the Womb and the Necessity of Grieving Its Loss

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Whether intentionally, or unintentionally, a television sitcom not only gives affirmation to a baby in the womb being an actual life, but emphasizes the necessary role of grieving this loss of that life; not just for the mother, but for the father and the extended family.

The Neighborhood has been a staple of the CBS comedy lineup for four seasons, and is its number two highest-rated series. The situation comedy centers around “The Johnsons,” a white couple from the Midwest gentrifying a Los Angeles neighborhood, their relationship with their Black, next-door neighbors, “The Butlers,” and all the comedic beats that ensue from those exchanges.

Comedian Cedric the Entertainer plays “Calvin Butler,” Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris, Survivor’s Remorse) plays “Tina Butler,” and their two grown sons “Malcolm” (Sheaun McKinney), and “Marty” (Marcel Spears) factor into the interactions. The Johnsons’ “Dave” is played by Max Greenfield (New Girl), and “Gemma” is played by Beth Behrs (Two Broke Girls), and they have a tween son “Grover” (Hank Greenspan).

In the Season Four’s fourth episode, “Welcome to the Porch Pirate,” Dave and Gemma, who started out the season with the joy and anticipation of a pregnancy, have now experienced a miscarriage after 10 weeks. The episode focuses on Gemma’s struggle to navigate her grief.

The mrc-TV blog notes,

This week’s episode of CBS’s The Neighborhood dealt with the loss of a character’s unborn child through miscarriage. The episode made clear throughout that the baby in the womb was indeed a human life, not just a clump of cells or whatever it is pro-aborts imagine is growing inside a woman.

The episode shows Gemma’s attempts to avoid how much the loss of her baby’s life has devastated her. Instead of giving herself space to grieve, Gemma tries to throw herself into activity in order to not feel the pain.

Sounds familiar. All the “Shout your abortion” and gun control activism is rooted in the Left’s inability to acknowledge what is truly tragic, and navigate and acknowledge the grief that ensues when a life is taken, whether that is through abortion or other means.

One of the lines in the episode spoken by Gemma’s husband Dave,

“I was just so shocked when there wasn’t a heartbeat.”

I found it interesting that the writers chose to keep this line, given the battle over Texas’ SB8 Heartbeat law, and other heartbeat bills and laws being challenged across the country. It reinforces the truth behind a beating heart as a clear sign of life, no matter how small that life might be.

While the entertainment publication Variety covers the episode as a reflection of the approach of the new showrunner Meg DeLoatch, it also summarizes the episode with words that represent life in the womb as an actual baby, not just a “clump of cells.”

One of the biggest examples of this has already played out the fourth episode of the season: In “Welcome to the Porch Pirate,” Gemma (Beth Behrs) experiences a miscarriage and struggles to allow herself to grieve. The show does not depict the act of losing the baby, but comes in after in order to “lead with emotion,” DeLoatch tells Variety.

One of the other insightful portions of the episode is that it gives credence to this fact: Men grieve the loss of a baby just as much as women.

In talking to Gemma about the loss of their baby, Dave says,

“Yeah, and… I know, but… This is also one of the hardest things we’ll ever have to deal with.

The Left loves to tell men that if they don’t have a uterus, they have no say in the matter of abortion. It disconnects the importance and role of the father not only in conception, but in the decision-making and responsibility of having and raising a child.

This is intentional, and totally disregards the grief a man feels over the loss of his preborn child through abortion or miscarriage. This episode handles this beautifully, showing that sometimes the devastation of losing a child can be just as great to a man, if not greater, than that of a woman.

But, the episode also focuses on the collective grief felt not only by the pregnant couple, but by the baby’s sibling, and the people who are the extended family. In this case, The Butlers reflect not only the grief felt over The Johnsons loss of their baby, but their own personal grief when they lost a child of their own years prior. It is Cedric the Entertainer’s character Calvin who ultimately helps Gemma face her pain and feel the loss of her child.

mcrg blog acknowledges this:

The episode does a commendable job discussing the emotional attachment a father also has to his unborn child and the grief he feels over the loss of a baby in the womb. When Tina’s husband, Calvin (Cedric the Entertainer), talks to Gemma about the miscarriage, both characters open up about their pain.

Some of the lines in that exchange between Calvin and Gemma were particularly on point:

Gemma: “I don’t want to feel this. It makes it real—my baby’s gone… I just want to be numb.”

Calvin: “The more I tried to avoid the pain, the more it lingered.”

Variety also noted how the writer gave equal and important weight to the father’s and extended family’s grief:

In the episode, Dave (Max Greenfield) equally struggles not only with the loss, but also with how to support Gemma as she does everything from repainting the house to rushing their son Grover (Hank Greenspan) to the arcade just to avoid thinking about her emotions. Tina (Tichina Arnold) tries to help in her way — by making enough food to get them through many, many weeks — but ultimately it is Calvin (Cedric the Entertainer) who seems to help the most, getting through to Gemma by talking about the baby he and Tina lost and being a literal shoulder for her to lean on.

Variety sanitizes this exchange, which is much more powerful and involves Gemma bursting into tears. Calvin gave Gemma a shoulder to cry on. Tears are a necessary part of grief.

The episode ends with the Johnson family planting a tree in honor of their baby. They are joined by the Butler family in performing this ritual. It has the undertones of a funeral, but it is rimmed with hope, and all the characters wore white to reflect that distinction. Showing this type of ceremony not only lent dignity to their child’s life, which did not come to fullness on this earth, but it gave every person involved in their family an opportunity to acknowledge their own grief and share these emotions together.

The baby’s life was acknowledged and honored, rather than thrown into a dumpster like garbage, or used in a vaccine.

While the Variety article goes deeper into the showrunner DeLoatch’s own miscarriage and her desire to explore that story in order to give the female characters more agency and arcs, what DeLoatch really did was blast more holes in the argument that a baby in the womb is not a life, and that abortion is a necessary act.

The beauty of the Pro-Life community is that they offer resources for women, men, and families who need to grieve an abortion, miscarriage, or any loss of a child. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops pro-life resource site is a great place to start the journey.