Saturday, 15 March 2014

The future of Carla's child

Carla's finally resolved her Schrodinger's Womb; until last night's episode she was simultaneously pregnant and not pregnant.  Now that we all know, yes, there is a tiny ball of cells gestating inside the fabulous Ms Connor (given the state of her marriage, there's not really much point in calling her Mrs Barlow, is there?) the question becomes: what happens next?

Carla is not maternal.  This has been long established.  She's terrible with Simon, always has been; her idea of parenting is to lump him in front of the X Box with a packet of Frazzles while she thumbs through the fashion mags in the bath.  She doesn't like children.  She had a terrible childhood.  She loves her home comforts.  She is, in short, exactly the wrong kind of person to have a baby.

Babies should be wanted, desired, loved.  In an ideal world every child would be produced from two loving, caring parents who wanted nothing more than to reproduce and who are willing to sacrifice everything for their newborn.  Life isn't like that; life finds a way.  Life creates children out of drunken fumblings, out of unhappy marriages, out of lonely, scared women, and each unloved child is a little story of sadness in itself.

Here's how I'd like Carla's story to develop.  I'd like Carla to feel regret that this has happened, this accident of genetic material (because it was an accident; you can bet your life that she was using contraception of one kind or another).  I'd like her to experience sadness that this decision, this huge, momentous, life altering decision, has been thrust upon her.  And then I'd like her to get an abortion.

Abortions don't really happen in soap operas.  This is mainly because they are a neat, catch all answer that solves a lot of problems, and a problem means a drama.  If a character in a soap opera finds out she's pregnant, she usually persists with the baby, even if she's not sure who the father is (Molly), or she's only known the father for five minutes (Kirsty), or she's pretty sure the relationship is doomed because he's in love with his former sister in law (Maria), or she's had a one night stand that pretty much everyone regrets (Tracy).  SurpriseChild! is a classic soap opera trope and creates years of drama.

When terminations do appear, it's often as a storytelling device, nothing more.  Think of Katie loitering outside the hospital, waiting to see if Chesney really loves her and will come and save her.  His arrival, and her subsequent decision to give birth, was a "romantic triumph" - even if two teenagers having a baby is rarely a good idea, and they've subsequently split up.  Alternatively, there's Tina aborting David's baby; in this instance, a teenage mother was a bad thing because that way David could go off the deep end and be even more psychotic than usual.  Tina was pretty much forgotten after he chucked Gail down the stairs.

I'd like Carla to make a careful, intelligent, logical decision.  I'd like her to decide that there are too many unloved, unwanted children in the world.  I'd like her to explain to Peter that she wasn't ready to devote the rest of her life to a baby she didn't ask for; I'd like him to support her and her decision.  I'd like her friends and family to hold her hand and look after her while she undergoes the procedure. I'd like her to say goodbye to what could have been, and then look forward to the wonderful life she can live without the stresses and pain of a burdensome child with her.  I'd like the abortion to be presented as a positive in the life of a woman who knows what she wants and what will make her happy.

It's a side of terminations that's rarely presented; women in dramas who have abortions are usually shown to be a bit mad, full of regret, sad at what could have been.  I've known a few women who've had terminations, and in every instance, their life is so much better now than it would have been with a child they didn't want.  Soap operas so often talk about "dealing with issues"; how about we deal with an issue where a woman makes a decision to be happy?  It would be a refreshing, adult decision to show something that happens to thousands of women in this country but is rarely talked about, and to not suggest it's a cause of shame or disgust.  It might not be as dramatic, but life isn't sometimes.  Sometimes a soap opera can simply reflect life as it is.

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Peter @peterprandradio on Twitter said...

I cannot stand Carla. From her squeaky Ashley-tribute voice to her gun-barrel straight hair, never mind her selfishness, I have never warmed to her.

Corrie try to make her out to be rich - a back-street underwear factory? Yes, she might be richer than most in the street, but the idea she has bags of money is just fanciful.

This latest storyline with the baby is boring. Boring because we know she hates kids. Boring because we know what's happening with Barlow. Boring because it's boring.

Get rid of her. Please.

Tvor said...

Here's what I'd like to see.... Carla keeps the baby and asks TIna to be the nanny! ;) Ouch!

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca said...

Great post! I 100% agree that it's time both sides of the abortion story are told. Many people go on to be happy an successful after one.

Anonymous said...

You do live in the country where Monty Python made a movie with the song "Every Sperm Is Sacred", sung in a wonderful scene of parents surrounded by dozens of children, so theoretically this could be handled in an intelligent way, with Carla deciding rationally that motherhood is not for her, and a baby would be better off NOT being born into the life she would provide for it. But too many people have spent their lives being indoctrinated by various religions to believe that they don't have the right to make their own decisions about something so fundamental as parenthood, so Corrie could play it safe and avoid the issue by having her lose the foetus in a convenient miscarriage. Shall we take bets on how this will play out?

Frosty the Snowman said...

This thread is a bit presumptious - we dont even know if Carla the Career Woman is going to go through with it yet. She has only just done the test. wouldnt be surprised if she went for a secret abortion, only to be discovered of course and that is why Peter leaves.

Anonymous said...

Agree with this post 100% but fear it will not be 'dramatic' enough for the producers. She will decide to keep the baby, encouraged by Peter who will promptly abandon her, she will have the baby and fall into post natal depression. We will then have months of a depressed Carla failing to bond with her baby blah balh boring blah.

Anonymous said...

An excellent post!

For me, Carla is undoubtedly one of the best characters on the show. The writers keep revealing more layers, which is fascinating but I hope that they intend to stay true to her character.

If she is going to have an abortion then surely it will be when she finds out about Peter's affair? Peter is a selfish pig so I imagine that he will at first succeed in persuading Carla to keep the baby because it's what HE wants. But Carla having an abortion would not only be a potentially powerful storyline for Alison King (who I think is superb) to handle but it would also be an ideal way for Carla to get revenge on the man that has so cruelly betrayed her.

Rachel said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Schrodinger's womb! Brilliant!

I agree and Carla having an abortion without a second thought is consistent with her character. Nevertheless, it will never happen because Coronation Street would be slaughtered. Decisions about abortion have to be agonised and cause repercussions. Clearly, that is very often the reality, but there are some women who do just see it as the most sensible thing to do, yet that reality will never be shown.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Unless there's another storyline lying beneath this one eg: Carla's already three abortions, never told anyone and thought she was probably now infertile, her reaction is slightly odd; I'd expect a woman like Carla to be angry with herself rather than upset. Her hormones haven't kicked in yet and I've known several women deal abortion much like a bad tooth. I agree with Anon at 13.09; Carla would be more likely to go on a week's holiday and have the abortion while she's away. But, where's the drama in that?

Flaming Nora said...

Couldn't agree more, Scott. Great blog post.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe the reason that Carla would consider an abortion is global warming. Think about it. What kind of life will children being born today have in 50 years. If anyone pays attention to the severe weather and storms that have happened in the past year I would think that people would start to seriously question whether they want to bring a child into this world. Could be an interesting story line because this world is in trouble.

Zagg said...

Oh please...a global warming reason for having an abortion? You're joking, right?

Newfy Pearl said...

Not everyone considers abortion to be an alternative. Not everyone is cool with it.
Also corrie has aborted a couple of babies...Tina's, and don't forget Natasha had an abortion because she thought Nick did not want her or a baby.
There is a lot I view on the show because it is not real, it is fiction. Talks of abortions however make me cringe.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about this post all evening. It makes me sad because ten years ago I was not unlike Carla. I had an enviable job and plenty of cash. Three children later I am little more than a domestic slave and yet I feel obliged to stay with my feckless partner for the sake of the children. I have always opposed abortion on principle and yet I find myself rooting for Carla to go ahead if she thinks that's what she needs to keep her identity and independence.

Anonymous said...

In this modern age, if the option of abortion isn't considered for the variety of realistic reasons Carla has, this soap is not worth salt. No one is jumping out to sound the alarm about how "wonderful" abortions are but rather that they are a very personal choice that some women make. Unfortunately, there's been so many babies and abortions on this Street it makes all these stories seem ridiculous.

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