Have you been lucky enough to catch an episode of the new MTV dramedy I Just Want My Pants Back? It takes place in a magical, fictional village called "Brooklyn" (pronounced "broo-kah-lawn"), home to a race of whiney, waifish sprites who dress in denim vests and subsist solely on a magical nectar called PBR. This Brooklyn is a lovely, sexually progressive place to be. Willing partners are everywhere and the fucking is near constant. It's a veritable paradise with one exception: unwanted pregnancies still happen and — low and behold — abortion hasn't even been invented yet. The fantasy genre! What will they think of next?
Last night's episode found Stacey, a 20-something year-old law student with the world at her feet, caught in the midst of a pregnancy scare with her med school boyfriend Eric. Even through the show's clumsy writing, you get a sense of Stacey's character—she's a type-A personality, driven, intelligent and funny. She is a woman who seemingly has her life together and has a plan of where she wants to go. Her relationship with her boyfriend is solid, supportive and communicative, yet, when faced with the possibility of parenthood, their discussion has a giant, boulder-sized hole in it. In the world of I Just Want My Pants Back, here are the couple's options: not be pregnant or have the baby and give up everything. Not once, in the entire episode, is abortion even mentioned as an option, a fact that becomes distracting and glaringly obvious, especially on a show that seems to pride itself on the edgy representation of 20-year-old assholes in their natural habitat. Furthermore, it is patently false and unrealistic.
I am about to reveal something that will make me immediately dislikable to a fair share of you: I am a part of the demographic that MTV is attempting to represent in I Just Want My Pants Back. I am in my twenties, I live in the neighborhood where most of the show is shot, I have cut the sleeves out of several of my t-shirts. I am college-educated, complain constantly about the L train and can keep up in a conversation about kombucha. My friends are similar, in the It's a Small World After All-way, to those represented on the show (in our defense, MTV has completely left out the fact that you can live in Brooklyn and be a pleasant, kind person, which we mostly are). Like Stacey, we are a very driven group with lots of plans that currently take priority over baby-having. If a pregnancy scare occurs within my acquaintance circle, you can bet, without a doubt, that abortion will enter the discussion, at least as a possibility if not as the assumed outcome. Whether or not Stacey would decide to have the baby or terminate her pregnancy is at the discretion of the show's writers, but to leave out the possibility of choice entirely is an irresponsible misrepresentation and a lie.
Women, particularly those living in young, liberal-minded areas like Williamsburg, New York City, have options when it comes to unplanned pregnancy and MTV is not doing anyone any favors by acting as if those options don't exist. You could argue, however, that MTV benefits financially from removing any trace of abortion dialogue from the network. Considering that a large part of their viewership is the pre-18 set, refusing to discuss abortion can only help expand their very-fertile casting choices for future seasons of Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, two of the network's largest cash cows. Regardless, we can end with a plea: Get with it, MTV, or, at the very least, leave the fantasy costume dramas to networks that can, without a doubt, do it better.