New baby! Comedy…maybe

March 1, 2010

THE OFFICE -- "The Delivery, Part 1" Episode 618 -- Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC

There’s a new addition coming to prime-time.

This week, in an hour-long episode of “The Office” Jim and Pam will finally welcome their much anticipated offspring.  Fans seem to be excited, there’s lots of media buzz  surrounding the life changing event, however television babies have a peculiar history of driving ratings down and causing loyal viewers to lose interest.  Especially when the babies arrive among a cast of single, middle class, upwardly mobile characters.

“Mad About You,” “Murphy Brown” and even “Friends,” to a certain extent, lost viewers shortly after they added a bundle of joy to the mix.

Will “The Office” suffer the same fate? Will adding a baby to the absurdity of office life make for higher ratings or will fans throw the show away with yesterday’s diapers.

Dr. Scott Gratson, director of the Communications Program at Temple University

Though some parents might disagree, when it comes to TV newborns just aren’t that funny,  said Scott Gratson, director of the Communications Program in Temple’s School of Communications and Theater.

“The idea of a very middle class office worker trying to handle a home life, a job, a relationship, and her own peace of mind is an image that invokes stress, and justifiably so. It doesn’t tend to make for good comedy,” Gratson said. “The Office episode seems to parody: the reality of the juggle. As real as it is for younger mothers, and parents for that matter, it is often not an image that is presented.”

Jazmyn Burton


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