Time to tip our hats to television shows that have used creative storylines to incorporate or disguise an actor’s real-life pregnancy without making her character pregnant. You know, using something other than a gigantic purse carried in front of the bump. Here are my top five favorites:
1. Frasier — When Jane Leeves got pregnant, the writers had her character Daphne develop an overeating disorder and gain sixty pounds; however, Niles is so blinded by love he doesn’t notice until Daphne falls to the floor and is too heavy to get up without the help of Frasier, Niles and Martin (who remarks “it took three Cranes to lift you”). Daphne then left for several weeks to attend a “spa for fat people” and returned with her figure restored. It’s a miracle! According to her therapist, she began over-eating to create distance between herself and Niles because she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to live up to Niles’ lofty expectations after he spent the last seven years believing she was perfect. When Jane Leeves was briefly on maternity leave, the writers created a scene in which Niles tells Roz that Daphne had lost 9 pounds, 12 ounces — which was the weight of Leeves’ baby in real life. Love it.
2. The Nanny — When Lauren Lane, who played Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield’s bitter assistant C.C., was pregnant, the writers had C.C. go to her boss and tell him the actress in their play was pregnant — then they began to brainstorm ways to hide it. “You can have her carry in a box I suppose, or put her behind the chair… or carry around a sign…” and, of course, as they were discussing each possible idea, the actress playing C.C. was doing just that.
In another episode, she enters Maxwell’s office wearing all black and refers to “Hide Your Pregnancy” techniques used by Elaine from Seinfeld, including the ol’ “holding massive objects” ploy. Again, C.C. herself is holding a huge purse and, after putting it down, pointedly picks up a potted plant she says needs to be watered before exiting the scene. [CUE FRAN DRESCHER’S LAUGHTER HERE]
3. Days of Our Lives — When Days of our Lives‘ Allison Sweeney got pregnant, a storyline was written wherein her character Sami Brady decided to disguise herself as a man named “Stan” (in order to secretly torture many of Salem’s residents) — and a male actor who looked like Allison was hired to take her place. Naturally.
4. Star Trek — Because Nana Visitor was pregnant and the producers didn’t want to saddle her character, Kira Nerys, with a baby, Kira and pregnant character Keiko were involved in an accident in which Keiko was critically injured. In order to save both mother and unborn child, Dr. Bashir transferred the fetus to Kira’s womb — in essence, forcing her to be a surrogate mother. And allowing Nana to rock the bump without having to carry a, you know, spaceship in front of her belly.
5. Friends — When Lisa Kudrow was pregnant with son Julian, her character Phoebe became a surrogate mother for her brother’s triplets. Because we would expect nothing less from Phoebe. Key quote: “They want me to be the surrogate. It’s her egg and his sperm; I’m just the oven. It’s totally their bun.”