Feministing Chat: Obvious Child

Ed. note: The Feministing crew chatted about the eagerly anticipated new rom-com Obvious Child. Read Steph Herold’s guest review here and check if the film has opened in your city yet.

Donna and Max in Obvious Child

First impressions?

Here are some random thoughts I have about this movie: LOL bathroom humor! Aw, I’m glad this movie exists. Jenny Slate is strangely talented at depicting flirty, drunken bar banter. Dear god this movie is white. Bringing a human male here on a first date was a mistake! -Lori

Definitely was laughing till I cried for most of the run time. This is not the kinda-funny-but-mostly-serious Abortion Movie I was expecting, which yay! -Jos

Yeah, I am still not over being excited about women doing gross-out humor. I know that in post-Bridesmaids, post-Girls world, maybe it’s gonna start getting old soon. But definitely not yet for me! Like, that scene with the crusty undies felt almost as revolutionary as the on-screen abortion. – Maya

I loved how the film went straight for the jugular with regards to the imperfections of the body. After that crustie undies scene, the characters could be real about what women’s bodies do and what they undergo – like, say, abortions. -Juliana

I was seriously laughing the whole time. Jenny Slate is wonderful. And for real Maya, I was chuckling to myself about the crusty undies jokes for days. I really, really wish there had been some central characters of color, and I feel like it went a little into sassy gay friend territory with the…sassy gay friend. But overall I was into it! – Vero

Yeah, loved the film, but, like Vero I really wish there had been at least ONE person of color who says some words. -Juliana

I saw the movie with my partner. Not only was it tons of fun, but more importantly, it offered a great opportunity for us to talk about our own reproductive health. Prior to the movie he was obviously pro-choice (otherwise we would not be dating), but according to him, it really showed him a glimpse of the reproductive considerations that more or else consistently run through my head. I’m admittedly not the best at having these Relationship Talks so I was relieved to be able to refer to the characters rather than ourselves directly. However, the lack of people of color was very distracting to me. -Suzanna


I only had two complaints about the film, and they aren’t actually complaints at all. The first was that, while the film was full of information on abortion, Donna’s mother’s abortion narrative felt shoehorned in. It totally makes sense for a mother to tell her daughter about her abortion in that circumstance, it’s just that Donna’s mother’s story sounded more like a prepared narrative delivered at an abortion speak out than a mother/daughter conversation. But hey, I’m really glad to have a pre-Roe abortion story presented so clearly in the middle of a comedy (Nellie’s story and delivery of medical information totally made sense to me, cause she’s the kind of friend who rants about politics, has prepared stories about the issues in your life, and shares medical information when a topic like abortion comes up. Just like me, actually). -Jos

I agree. The convo with her mom was the only moment I thought it veered into being a little too heavy-handed. That was big concern in general about the film–that the pro-choice politics would feel forced–and overall I was so, so impressed that they didn’t. -Maya

My other issue was that the film basically skipped over the topic of medication abortion so it could have a plot centered around a surgical abortion. When we’re so used to films skipping the topic of “schmamortion” entirely, this is actually totally awesome. -Jos

Another thing I really wish the film had gone into is how she ended up paying for her abortion. I thought it was really great that they went into the cost and she realized that it was a lot of money for her – but they never closed the loop on that. Like, did she have to sell something? Did she borrow money from her parents? Her friends? Did she call an abortion fund? Where did that $500 come from? -Verónica

I really appreciated the office scene with Donna and the Planned Parenthood doctor. I feel anxiety when I have to go to big stake medical appointments and watching the conversation play out on screen provided a primer of what that initial consultation might be like (that is, what it would be like if I continue to live in a state that is not becoming increasingly hostile to reproductive rights). These educational moments provided a type of honest and applicable information with which I wish the public had more familiarity. -Suzanna

The rom com of it all

Max was almost too cute and likable for my taste. This is a movie in which a man farts directly into a woman’s face as she is crouching to pee outside but their sugary sweet rom com vibe is the plot point that made me want to barf the most. -Lori

Agreed Lori, the Max storyline was totally rom-com, down to the completely unbelievable ending. But it’s nice to see a guy be decent about an abortion, and I’m actually kind of into a movie like this still getting to have a fantasy Hollywood ending. Oh, and everything about the peeing on the street scene was awesome. -Jos

I TOTALLY disagree. Everything about Max was perfect. I agree, Jos, I’m very into having a movie about a girl who gets an abortion end with fairytale happy ending, just to balance out the disproportionate number of abortion storylines that end up with the woman not just sad but actually dead. For the same reason, I’m totally good with having a comparatively flat male supporting character who just lets Jenny Slate shine. And I liked the fact that he’s played as this Manhattan bro who is too earnest and doesn’t have cool enough shoes for Williamsburg, but then it turns out he’s actually perfect for Donna. I loved how he laughed so hard at her jokes. -Maya

I’m with Maya. I went to see the movie with a platonic friend, but by the end of the film I kind of wished my partner was there next to me. I totally fell into the sappy romantic ending! Sometimes we feminists need Hollywood endings just like the rest of the world, and I think an abortion story deserves a happy ending for once. -Juliana

I also appreciated that the girl who got an abortion got to have a happy ending. I mean, abortion can be hard, and emotionally painful – but it can also be a huge relief, and for so many people it’s a happy ending. So I appreciated that a lot. I’m not much of a rom-com watcher, but I appreciated the saccharine ending in this instance! – Verónica

I rarely get sappy-emotional at movies, but I did tear up at the very last shot. Very simple and touching. -Suzanna

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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