The XX Factor

“Friday Night Lights”: An Honest Portrayal of Abortion

Just last year, I bemoaned the fact that no female character has had an abortion on network TV since Bea Arthur’s Maude had one back in 1972, even though it is one of the most common surgical procedures in the country. That’s about to change: A teen character has an abortion on Friday Night Lights , which is currently only on DirecTV, but will air on NBC again shortly. Warning: if you haven’t seen last night’s episode, spoilers ahead.

Becky, who is 15, finds out that she is pregnant. Her mom had her when she was a teenager. At first, she doesn’t want to tell her mom, but “everymom” Tami Taylor convinces her that she should. Here’s what New York magazine has to say about how Becky’s decision plays out on screen :

What follows is the best and most honest portrayal of the heartrending decision to end a teenage pregnancy that we’ve ever seen. Other than Becky’s mom railing at the state-mandated pro-life speech that the doctor has to deliver, there’s not a single reference to the cultural war that still rages over this intensely personal issue. Instead, there is just Becky’s intensely personal journey: her sadness over her situation, her shame as she realizes that her mother once viewed her as a similar “mistake,” her overwhelming desire to be an adult, someone with responsibilities and love in her life, and, then, ultimately, her realization that she is not ready to be a parent.

There doesn’t seem to be much public outrage over this episode, but I wonder if it’s because Friday Night Lights is currently airing on a completely obscure channel. It will be interesting to see what happens in April when FNL returns to NBC in a 10 p.m. spot as one of the replacements for Jay Leno’s show. Will there be boycotts?