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Born in the Wild
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Born in the Wild is a reality show about home births that take place in remote natural locations. Watching the families prepare for the birth and talk about the impending labor is educational, interesting, and fine for younger viewers. The birth scenes themselves, however, are potentially traumatizing to viewers both young and old. Laboring mothers are shown naked (private parts are blurred), shrieking and moaning with what looks like unendurable pain. Footage in which women scream or beg for help is played repeatedly as scary music plays and the narrator amps up the tension: "She's two hours from help and something is very wrong." Meanwhile, family members pace worriedly, cry, and break down under stress. There's some bleeped cursing too, but the show's focus on danger, fear, pain, and potential harm could be extraordinarily upsetting for some viewers.
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What's the story?
As the infographic that opens the show tells us, "over 98 percent of babies in the U.S. are born in hospitals. Some women are choosing to reverse the trend." And how. In BORN IN THE WILD, each episode features a different family preparing to give birth in a remote outdoor location, far from medical help. Each hour-long episode probes into why the family made that particular choice and how they're prepping for the experience and follows the mom-to-be through the last few days or weeks of her pregnancy. It all culminates in the labor, which we watch in intense, graphic detail before catching up with the family after they've had a chance to adjust to their new addition.
Is it any good?
Reality programming about unusual births is a TV staple: See I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant and 16 and Pregnant. And, as with those shows, Born in the Wild is both sensational and scary, asking for viewers both to judge its subjects and revel in their ultimate "punishment" for making a choice outside the bounds of societal acceptance -- a birth that is painful and scary or, at least, one that's made to appear as painful and scary as possible to the viewer. If the laboring mom screams or begs for help, Born in the Wild replays it before and after at least a couple of commercials, with ominous chords in the background and a serious-voiced narrator who reminds us over and over what a risk the family is taking.
Surely the families featured don't appreciate the way they're depicted, with special attention paid to the more outrageous, polarizing aspects of their lifestyles and choices. Even those who champion hospital births may find themselves relating to the women on-screen, who are made to look both foolish and foolhardy for their birth plans. Young children should be kept as far as possible from this show, lest they be terrified of the idea of birth for good.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the premise of the show. Why is it interesting to watch women giving birth in remote locations? Does the show seem to support or criticize the women's unconventional decisions?
Did watching this show change your feelings about birth? Do you think the show intended to influence the feelings of viewers? How?
How are we supposed to feel toward the families depicted on-screen? Are we supposed to like them? Fear them? Feel superior toward them? Feel jealous of them? How can you tell?
For kids who love extreme reality
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