"The Office" vs. "I Love Lucy": How Much Have TV Births Changed?

April Peveteaux
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Mother's Day not only has me thinking about how I'm going to be pampered on "my day," but also about how motherhood (or more specifically, labor and delivery) has changed over the years ... and how it's been depicted on television.

Over nine million viewers tuned in to watch Pam refuse to give birth on The Office versus 44 million viewers who enjoyed the iconic I Love Lucy goes to the hospital episode.

There were some pretty significant differences, but also some shocking similarities. 

Surprisingly, the pregame event of prepping and heading to the hospital didn't change much from 1953 to 2010. There were nosy coworkers/neighbors helping to create chaos and a dramatic, bungled rush to get to the hospital when the time finally came to usher the women into motherhood. (Although it's doubtful Fred was throwing axes out of the car window.)

Of course, here in the 21st century, we know couples sleep in the same bed, women make funny faces during labor, and men are no longer clueless observers in welcoming their child to the world. Thus, the Pam scenes give us more grimace and less glamor.

Both Lucy and Pam showed us classic labor and delivery television moments. Some are the same; some are wildly different. Here's how it all comes out.

SAME

I Love Lucy:

A cast of characters can't take their eyes off Lucy as they wait for the signal that "it's time."

The Office:

A cast of characters can't take their eyes off Pam as they wait for the signal that "it's time."

NOT EVEN CLOSE

I Love Lucy:

Lucy looks slightly dazed, other than that -- no physical signs she's in labor.

The Office:

Pam breathes dramatically, winces in pain, all the time denying she's in labor. (Even after she appears in a different outfit because her water broke.)

SAME

I Love Lucy:

Lucy is the calmest one in the room.

The Office:

Pam is the calmest one in the room.

NOT EVEN CLOSE

I Love Lucy:

Lucy disappears into the bedroom to lie down and await "the sign."

The Office:

Pam organizes her coworkers in the conference room and asks them to show off their "talent" to distract her from labor pains.

SAME

I Love Lucy:

Desi treats his wife like a toddler, speaking slowly and in a patronizing tone.

The Office:

Jim treats Pam like a toddler when Pam refuses to leave for the hospital speaking in a calm, patronizing tone. (You know, the one you use on the playground when you don't want other parents to know how pissed you are at your child.)

NOT EVEN CLOSE

I Love Lucy:

Desi waits for Lucy to tell him it's time to go to the hospital, and he clearly has no idea what he's waiting for.

The Office:

Jim knows exactly how many minutes apart the contractions are and that they should've left for the hospital hours ago.

SAME

I Love Lucy:

Ricky anxiously paces in the waiting room while Lucy has the baby.

The Office:

Michael Scott (the wannabe dad) anxiously paces in the waiting room while Pam has the baby.

NOT EVEN CLOSE

I Love Lucy:

Ricky anxiously paces in the waiting room while Lucy has the baby.

The Office:

Jim is by Pam's side through labor, delivery, and the male lactation consultant. (Did that make anyone else really uncomfortable?)

 

Which TV birth do you like best? Old school or the new reality?

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