The lies of the TV abortion storyline
In the second season of Mad Men, perpetually desperate Harry Crane needs to prove himself useful to his colleagues at Sterling Cooper. When he hears the CBS drama The Defenders is losing advertisers because of an abortion plot line — a 1962 real-world event — he tries to convince a lipstick company to buy airtime. The Belle Jolie executive balks at “entering the debate,” leaving Harry aghast at the lack of foresight. “Women,” he says incredulously, “will be watching!”
He was right, but so was the Belle Jolie exec.
For decades, abortion on television was largely depicted as a debate in narrative form, one that pitted melodramatic anti- and pro-abortion rights stances against each other through characters audiences knew and loved. Gretchen Sisson and Katrina Kimport, researchers at the University …
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