If you’re a fan of science fiction, fantasy, or horror television, you are probably aware of the cliché trope of mystical pregnancy. Since many shows in these genres feature a lot of female characters and aim to scare viewers by making them uncomfortable, it seems obvious to writers have a mystical pregnancy of some sort. While mystical pregnancies are effective in scaring viewers because of how it violates the female character, it is a trope that needs to ends because it negatively exploits a woman’s reproductive abilities. I’m going to give some examples of (fairly) recent times mystical pregnancies were used in television and explain the issues surround each one.
Amy Pond – Doctor Who
In the S6E7 episode A Good Man Goes to War, it is revealed to viewers that Amy has actually been pregnant the whole season and was kidnapped and held prisoner during her entire pregnancy.
My main issue with this scenario is that Amy’s trauma from this incident is never fully addressed. First of all, Amy is only 21 which is a pretty young age to get pregnant. She has also never shown any interest in having a child. This makes her consent to getting pregnant very questionable. Secondly, Amy finds out that she is pregnant, has actually been kidnapped and held prisoner for months, and starts going into labor within just minutes of each other. This would be a highly traumatic experience for anyone, but rather than addressing it, Amy and Rory are back on the TARDIS and traveling with the Doctor two episodes later. Also, considering River Song had been introduced to the show before Amy, it makes is almost seem like Amy was only written to have a baby and give River a background story.
Cordelia Chase – Angel
In the fourth season of Angel, Cordelia is mystically impregnated by a Higher Power for that Higher Power’s own birth, only to go into a coma immediately after giving birth. It is also later revealed that the Higher Power had instigated several miracles to ensure that this would happen.
There are so many issues surrounding this, both on screen and behind the scenes. The main issue on screen is that since the Higher Power had influenced history to ensure that Cordelia was impregnated, her consent to the situation is questionable. Also, falling into a coma just after giving birth and then being killed off in the 100th episode of the show just after she returned makes it seem like her only purpose in the show was to have a child.
Behind the scenes things were an even bigger mess. The actress who played Cordelia, Charisma Carpenter, had gotten unexpectedly pregnant just before filming the fourth season of the show. When she told the show’s producer about it he was reportedly very angry that he had to rewrite her character’s story line and chose to kill her character off despite promises not too. It is horrendous that women in the film industry are shamed and punished for getting pregnant since it is a personal decision for those actresses to make.
Caroline Forbes – The Vampire Diaries
When Jo Laughlin is murdered on her wedding day, her family of witches performs a spell that transfers the twins she is pregnant with into Caroline’s own body.
This whole situation is incredibly icky. Jo’s family impregnates Caroline without asking for her consent. On top of that, Jo’s fiancé, Alaric, is her professor and best friend’s adoptive father. Caroline has known him for years and he has served as a mentor figure for her and her friends throughout the show. When word gets out that she is pregnant with his children, fellow students and professors at the school are highly judgmental. It is terrible that the writers shamed her for getting pregnant despite it not being her choice. As if things couldn’t get worse, Caroline decides to raise the children as her own and gets engaged to Alaric who is twice her age.