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The Baby Borrowers: Another Good Reason to Skip Reality

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When I heard about the NBC TV show, The Baby Borrowers, a piece of my heart actually cringed.

I’m not a fan of reality TV. In fact, I’m not a fan of the television as entertainment at all. I’ve managed to remain blissfully unaware of surviving on islands, cooking or fashion design competitions, or of people who take stupid dares to eat bugs or let snakes or tarantulas traverse their near naked bodies. I know painfully little of the Kardashians or the girls next door, and I want to keep it that way. However, after learning of this program in the small snippets and sound bites of what little TV I do watch, I found the entire concept to be noxious and odious at the least, and possibly bordering child abuse.

The Baby Borrowers places teenage couples with the responsibility of caring for an infant and maintaining a household. Viewers are supposed gain reassurance in the fact that the actual parents of the baby are in a neighboring house watching every minute of the proceedings on closed circuit TV and a qualified nanny is just outside each camera shot.  The audience follows the teen parents, capturing their frustration, angst, and other issues.

After three days of babyhood, the teen participants graduate to a few days of toddler action, and after a healthy dose of the terrible twos, they inherit pre-teens, and then teenage children of their own.

Oh, joy.

In the age of supposed rampant teen pregnancy pacts and Jamie Lynn Spears, do we really need this?

The producers and proponents of the show claim that they are teaching teenagers an invaluable lesson regarding child rearing and parental responsibility in real terms. From what I can determine, the teenage parents are given nicely decorated middle-class homes with all of the amenities. This doesn’t happen in real life. I don’t know of many teenage parents who are outfitted in this manner. This speaks more of the households of mature parents who have good jobs with steady incomes, likely the direct result of college educations.

I also have a concern with the separation of a baby (or toddler) from his/her parent during this time of their development. If, indeed they were right next door but weren’t physically present, damage could have still been done. After eight or nine months, and during the toddler years, children often experience severe separation anxiety. I know my son did. He definitely did not appreciate the four-day weekend trip my husband and I took to the Caribbean when he was nine months old. Even though his grandmother cared him for, he let us know upon our arrival that in no uncertain terms he wasn’t happy with our absence.

My biggest problem with “reality” TV is that the very presence of the camera makes the situation unreal. I’ve seen snippets of other reality shows, and the amount of ham acting by the participants (some of whom are even real actors) is both sickening and appalling. There were some girls in The Baby Borrowers who showed themselves to be bigger babies than the child they were caring for. Why their temper tantrums makes good TV is beyond my comprehension. Certainly, teenagers, for the most part, are ill equipped to handle children of any age, but we don’t need a television program to prove that theory. Putting a camera in anyone’s face will make the bad behavior seem demonic, just as it makes good behavior seem angelic.

As for me? While waiting for the new golden age of television (which will hopefully be a lot less moronic than the one we are currently in), I think I’ll continue with my reading.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.