Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Desperate Housewives' Playing Pregnancy Discrimination for Laughs

As I've been reviewing episodes of Desperate Housewives this season, I've become increasingly appalled by the Lynette Scavo/Carlos Solis plotline.

In a nutshell: Lynette, a mom of four, accidentally got pregnant and was planning to tell her boss Carlos -- her longtime friend and neighbor -- about her pregnancy. But before she could inform him, he told her he'd just passed over a talented woman for a promotion because she was pregnant and instead offered the post to Lynette, a job which would double her salary, as she's the sole breadwinner of her family of six, about to become a family of eight (she's having twins and her husband has gone back to college). She opted not to tell Carlos right away, but to make arrangements for her departure by training a (temporary) replacement and by landing a big account. However Carlos found out before Lynette was ready to tell him and pushed her out of the job, treating her as a betrayer of trust whose pregnancy had hurt his business. Then Lynette sued.

The story seems super-serious for the dramedy Desperate Housewives but has been played for laughs. For example, when Lynette's breasts swelled at the beginning of her pregnancy, Carlos thought she had gotten implants and urged her to show off her cleavage with a sexy, revealing dress (which he paid for) in an attempt to lure a male client. And now that Lynette is suing Carlos, his wife Gabby isn't speaking to Lynette and is, in fact treating her wretchedly, calling Lynette an "awful person" who let Carlos down by getting pregnant.

My column on Mommy Track this week centers on this storyline and, once you put aside the typical Wisteria Lane melodrama, asks what a woman in Lynette's situation is supposed to do.

What would you do in this situation?

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