Many people assume that comedy movies don’t deal with serious subject matter. These movies are designed to make audiences laugh. Thus, it simply makes sense that they would avoid tackling subjects that might not always be humorous.
However, upon closer inspection, it’s clear that comedies can have as much to say about real-life issues as any other genre. Even if they aren’t covering deep philosophical or political topics, they can still depict genuine experiences people actually have.
The 2008 film Baby Mama is an example of this. This comedy, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, might look like nothing more than fun, unrealistic entertainment on first glance. Telling the story of a straight-laced woman (Fey) who finds a carefree and reckless surrogate (Poehler) for her child, it’s easy to assume this movie is simply an excuse for two of the strongest comedic talents in Hollywood to work together.
The film absolutely succeeds in that respect. With those two leads, that comes as no surprise. However, interviews with the stars leading up to the movie’s release indicate the picture is also noteworthy for addressing some of the very real experiences women face when considering having children in today’s world.
This lends the movie an extra degree of relevance that makes it stand out in a viewer’s memory after the credits have rolled. Here are some of the reasons the film Baby Mama rang true to audiences.
The Film Addresses Real-Life Topics Such as Surrogacy and Fertility
Of course, the fact that the movie deals with the topic of surrogacy means its very premise is based on an experience many women can relate to. True, most women don’t have surrogates who act like Poehler’s character in Baby Mama. Few people behave the way her character does in real life. That said, women who learn they may need to use a surrogate to have a child can certainly find themselves wondering how their relationship with a surrogate will develop.
The film also corresponds to certain experiences Fey had in real life when deciding to get pregnant. In the movie, her character is over the age of 35, and is thus treated with skepticism by those who consider her too old to become a mother. Obviously, this is a very flawed notion, but it’s not an entirely uncommon one. Fey had her own daughter after the age of 35 and reported being treated as “ancient” when addressing topics like fertility.
Both Fey and Poehler also pointed out that other films about pregnancy that were released around the same time (Knocked Up, Juno) were likely popular because many of the filmmakers involved in those projects had reached an age where they were beginning to have children of their own. Thus, such movies aren’t manufactured entertainment for the masses with no real personal value. They’re actually expressions of the unique life experiences the people who made them went through at the time. Baby Mama is no different.
The Film Addresses Related Topics Such as Parenting
Of course, while the film deals with pregnancy, that topic is unavoidably related to the topic of parenting. Fey humorously admitted that raising a child can be a uniquely stressful experience when you bring them out in public without being entirely certain how they will behave.
These insights may not have directly influenced specific scenes in the film, but they undoubtedly influenced the way she and others involved in the production approached their characters. Knowing about the experiences that come after pregnancy can make it easier for an actor and/or filmmaker to depict pregnancy from an informed perspective.
The Script Had Insights from Both Genders
It’s also worth noting that the film’s writer is a man. Michael McCullers, who had previously met Poehler and Fey while working at Saturday Night Live, developed the idea for the movie along with its two stars.
McCullers has three children of his own, and he incorporated anecdotes from his own experiences into the script. Then, he handed it to Fey and Poehler so they could fine-tune the script to ensure it genuinely represented a female perspective on the experience.
Still, the fact that a man wrote the film means the movie also touches on the male perspective on pregnancy. This doesn’t detract from the picture. Instead, it allows the film to appeal to as wide an audience as possible by incorporating multiple voices. It’s also worth noting that McCullers directly drew from the experiences his wife went through during three pregnancies. Thus, the film is clearly rooted in the real world.
That’s one of the key reasons it succeeds. Is it funny? Yes. But comedies that truly impress audiences are often those that resonate with them on a deeper level. Some experiences in life are simply better-depicted humorously than dramatically. Pregnancy can be very dramatic, but it can also be stressful, exciting, fun, scary, and so much more. The team behind Baby Mama knew comedy was the best genre for telling that kind of story accurately.