By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Thursday, August 7th, 2008 at 12:10 am in Baby Borrowers.
It was hard to tell just what NBC was trying to accomplish with “Baby Borrowers: Lessons Learned,” a town hall-style discussion. The show spent a lot of time rehashing ground already covered, when, let’s face it, those of us watching were the ones around for most of this televised experiment. After that, NBC tossed a lot at us. First up, we got recaps and updates with the teens, followed by the borrowed kids’ parents. The show’s producer almost got into a smackdown with a child psychologist lamenting the damage suffered by the children who were “forced” to participate. Then came a flash Q&A session with teen parents from the Massachusetts high school where 18 formed a pregnancy pact (oh wait, they say they didn’t know about any pact until they heard about it on the news). Next up, we had NBC selling us on the idea of Hollywood influencing teen pregnancy — oh what a network will do to drop Angelina Jolie’s name. And in the final 60 seconds, we got to see the teens reunite with the babies. Yep, blink and you missed it.
So, what did we learn? Don’t let NBC try to turn entertainment — or is it an educational program? (the root of that almost smackdown) — into a primetime talk show segment. Today Show host and town hall moderator Hoda Kotb spent the first 15 minutes so focused on the three teen couples sitting to her right that it became painfully obvious how much she was ignoring the other two. Let’s face it, those of us who love the show wanted to know one thing: were the couples together or separated? And the answer …?
They’re apart. All five of them. Kotb almost had the perfect rebound by asking the couples why they hadn’t made it. Morgan and Daton: they were practically broken up before the experiment even started. Kelly and Austin discovered just how hard it is to live together, especially during her father’s battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease (hence the reason for her many meltdowns). Everyone’s sure-bet to make it Sasha and Jordan were felled over trust issues. And how about Kelsey/Sean and Alicea/Cory? That’s where Kotb blew it. Perhaps running out of time, she skipped those pairs. Frankly, I feel cheated.
Ditto her inability to ask the Mass. teens the burning questions. If there was no pact, then how did 18 of them end up pregnant at the same time? And more telling, did they get pregnant on purpose? If NBC wanted to pass this off as a newsy talk show, then they should have asked the big questions. But hey, if it gets more teens and their parents talking about pregnancy, then it served a greater good than simply being another reality TV show.