Expect to see a lot of purses, plants and other props if you are tuning into “Hart of Dixie” or “Nashville” for their new seasons.
But then again, maybe Zoe Hart and Juliette Barnes will become first-time mommies.
It’s that time of year known as bump watch on TV. Rachel Bilson and Hayden Panettiere are pregnant in real life right when their shows will be filming new seasons. While “Nashville” writers haven’t commented on how Panettiere’s pregnancy will factor into their show, CW network president Mark Pedowitz disclosed that the show’s executive producer Leila Gerstein is planning to have a pregnancy eventually happen to the character of Zoe Hart.
So, let’s pause (better make that a pregnant pause) and reflect on the options that the scriptwriters have for our two favorite characters:
• There’s always the who’s the baby daddy? dilemma: In Zoe’s cause is the father of her baby Wade, whom she broke up with and possibly still pines for while dating New Yorker Joel or is it a future writer? Juliette’s situation, just like her character, is more dramatic. There are three — _yes, count’em, three — potential dadas. It could be recovering alcoholic Deacon, Avery, whom she broke up with, or one-night stand Jeff.
• Career vs. kid: Will Zoe be able to juggle her duties as a small-town doctor while caring for baby? Will Juliette be singing the (baby) blues while battling her arch rival Rayna James on stage?
This isn’t the first time nor will it be the last time that the real-life pregnancy of a TV actress has caused some hitches in a TV show where a baby wasn’t planned for the character.
Consider last season when “Scandal” was in the middle of a hot storyline only to find lead actress Kerry Washington pregnant. As Olivia, Washington was always shot holding notepads and oversized purses, or wearing giant coats, or was perched awkwardly behind desks, chairs and sofas so her figure never really appeared on the screen. As a matter of fact, you could have played a drinking game whenever Olivia appeared on screen obscured by an object.
Lucky for Ginnifer Goodwin that “Once Upon a Time” filmed in Canada, so she could brave the cold winter filming in heavy coats while being a very non-pregnant Snow White and a very pregnant Ginnifer.
If the pregnancies aren’t written in the show, expect these typical and dreadful plot devices as a way to disguise that ever-growing baby bump:
• Gaining weight: January Jones’ pregnancy was revealed on “Mad Men” with Betty Draper’s thyroid tumor and binge eating, which led the actress to add to her baby bump with a padded suit.
• Bizarre circumstances: In order to hide Ellen Pompeo’s pregnancy, Meredith donated part of her liver to her father, which required a whole lot of bed rest on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
• Vasectomies gone wrong: The writers explained Jordan Sullivan’s second pregnancy (to coincide with Christa Miller’s third pregnancy) as a bad vasectomy on “Scrubs.”
• Surrogacy: Phoebe carried her brother’s quintuplets during Lisa Kudrow’s real-life pregnancy on “Friends.”
The pregnancies can also factor into other aspects of the show, like the shooting schedule. “Hart of Dixie” was cut back to 10 episodes instead of the original 13 to allow Bilson time to have the baby. Even though the show was renewed for next year, it is not on the CW’s fall schedule. Last year, “Scandal” was trimmed from 22 to 18 episodes.
If the writers decide to have Zoe and Juliette be real-life moms, they will be joining the ranks of Jennifer Garner (“Alias”), Jenna Fisher (“The Office”) and Jennie Garth (“Beverly Hills 90210”) whose characters also became new moms.
And let’s not forget the original pregnant mom Lucille Ball. As Lucy Ricardo on “I Love Lucy,” her second pregnancy was written into the show as Lucy’s first. The show wasn’t allowed to use the word “pregnant,” so the characters had to say that Lucy was “expecting.”
Well, TV fans are expecting this year. We are expecting some script changes and rewrites and possible twists and turns and maybe even some tiny tots as we take the journey through Bilson’s and Panettiere’s pregnancies. Oh boy — or girl — it’s going to be an exciting time to tune in.