I know I fell off the Cheers blogging over the summer in favor of catching up on Breaking Bad and Deadwood, for which I sincerely apologize. But it felt sort of appropriate that I started up again the same day that Scott Lemieux wrote this post about the bizarre impermissibility of abortion in romantic comedies and pop culture in general.
I’ve written repeatedly about the ways Cheers feels ahead of its time — in fact, the ways it feels ahead of the television of our time, whether it’s trusting the audience to get highly intellectual humor, or addressing the issue of gay athletes in the midst of the AIDS crisis. But one area it feels fairly conventional is on the subject of abortion. I understand that part of what’s funny about Carla is her enormous pack of kids. And it says good things about the bar’s community that in “Father Knows Last,” that everyone takes up a collection to help her support the latest baby. But it would have been interesting if that collection had gone towards her having an abortion, a prospect the show never really considers.
Similarly, in the fourth season episode “Fools and Their Money,” there’s this interesting little moment when Sam is trying to confess one thing to Diane and she thinks she’s gotten someone pregnant. “What’s her name and so many months?” she asks. It would have been fascinating to see those two have a conversation about how Sam feels about fatherhood, and how he’d handle a pregnancy that he didn’t want to see go through. Instead, it’s a misunderstanding, and they move on to the topic of how Sam will tell Woody that he didn’t place a bet that would have made Woody a great deal of money. And I wish it wasn’t another missed opportunity. But I suppose you can’t ask one show to do all the work. I just wish any piece of pop culture would take this bit of work on.