When the new made-for-internet television series Bump+ premiered last week, many of us were left scratching our heads.
The press release and website told us:
“In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court gave women a choice. Thirty-seven years later, we’re giving them a voice. BUMP+, a provocative web series from Yellow Line Studio that follows three women facing unintended pregnancies, premieres January 22nd. Watch the episodes. Share your story. Join the conversation.”
But still many of us were confused.
Was this a real show? Were these real pregnant women leaving the “choice” about whether or not to allow their unborn babies to live in the hands of an internet audience? It all sounded like a bad made for TV movie, never mind a web TV series.
A little careful reading at their website, though, reveals that this is a “fake” reality television series. The characters we meet on the screen are played by actors—but we, the audience, really will determine the outcomes of these characters’ pregnancies. In other words, our votes will determine what choices the writers will have each of these characters make in this “fake” reality show.
Are you still with me? I’m not sure I am.
Perhaps the confusion was a part of the show’s producers’ plan all along—a gimmicky means of getting people’s attention. But perhaps it was an unanticipated part of their cultural experiment. My own experience in writing online is that if there is even the slightest potential for people to misunderstand something ... they will. People read quickly and casually online, and then react instantly. That can be a public relations nightmare.
After I read a bit about the show’s background and watched the first episode, I determined that much of the initial negative response to Bump+ was based on misunderstanding. (You can watch the first episode here and the trailer video is embedded at the bottom of this post.)
I am intrigued.
Some have argued that ultimately this series fails because its promotes the idea that abortion is a “choice” and that all “choices” are equal.
But I don’t think that’s what viewers of this series will come away with. Whether we like it or not, abortion is still 100% legal in this country and thus it is absolutely open to women’s choices—both good ones and bad ones. In Bump+, we will watch these female characters make decisions about their pregnancies that mirror the kinds of decisions women in this country make every day.
Will we be horrified by some of the reasons the characters give for wanting an abortion? Probably.
Will we be forced to look at some sad, difficult, real-life situations that make it possible for some women to consider abortion their “best” option? It’s likely.
Will viewers vote to have the women carry their babies to term and then have the affirming, positive experience of seeing joy in the gift of new life? Possibly.
Will viewers vote to have the women choose to abort their babies and then feel loss in the sad, disturbing, painful consequences? Again, possibly.
I look at this series and I see potential. However this particular show turns out, thousands of people will be witnessing, thinking about, and discussing the reality of abortion as it exists in our society.
Let’s consider what is true about abortion, the reasons people might choose it, and the consequences when they do. Doing so might make some people uncomfortable, but I think many good things can come of that.