MTV’s True Life: Infertility and Being a Role Model

You may have heard my views about this on the last episode of the Bitter Infertiles podcast.

MTV’s long-running “True Life” series is doing an hour-long program about infertility. It will be following around two (or three) couples of the producers’ choosing to get a sense of what it’s like to be aged 18-29, going through infertility.


I have my concerns.

Here’s the thing. And I am addressing this to all people considering whether or not to be on this show:

People going through infertility are a misunderstood minority. Most press is negative. Then there are the comments sections on the aforementioned press articles. And the hurtful things we hear, often. The card deck is stacked against us.

So, when an opportunity comes to have a few of us profiled for a nationwide audience, we need to SEIZE it. We need to OWN it. And we need to make ourselves look GOOD.

What does this mean?

It means presenting your life in an authentic yet sympathetic way. It means talking about how infertility has devastated your life. Do give examples of mean things people have said. Do act human. It would help to be likeable, but human will do. It means showing the audience: she or he is like me. It means making the audience think: “Infertility is an awful disease!”

It DOESN’T mean bringing the drama. It doesn’t mean becoming Snooki, the infertile version. (Because Snooki is fertile, as we all know.) It means no bar fights. No cray cray family in-fighting. Because, we all know what MTV likes.

I’ve seen True Life. Specifically, the divorce episode comes to mind.

Remember that couple who was having non-stop ugly fights in front of their kids and kept calling the cops on each other?

Don’t be like them.

Don’t be like The Situation.

Because the weight of millions of Americans is on your shoulders. Infertility is so rarely portrayed, except in the freakshow manner. (OctoMom, the oldest American to have twins, the infertile 44 year old woman who swam in the fertile waters of Bhutan to get pregnant.)

You want to set yourself up as a reality show celebrity/trainwreck? Go ahead! Just please, please, please: choose another topic.

If you need some role models, think: What would Bodega Bliss do? What would The Smartness do? What would Single Infertile Female do? What would Keiko Zoll do? Or any of the Faces of ALI?

Thank you for listening.



Filed under Infertility

15 responses to “MTV’s True Life: Infertility and Being a Role Model

  1. BRAVO!!!! And thank you.

  2. Great article. It is so true people who have not been through the journey just don’t understand the depth and reality of it. I know too many people who have given an interview in good faith only for the mainstream media to twist and edit things as to how they want and which was not what was agreed.

  3. Yes, yes, yes! In my opinion, the only time someone on that show should get to all nuts is when yet another friend/relative tells them to just relax;-)

  4. Coulding agree with you more! This whole thing makes me nervous. Really really nervous.

  5. Uhhhh… let’s make that “couldn’t”! I hate seeing my own typos after the fact!

  6. Yes, yes, yes! This post highlights exactly why I am not thrilled about The New Normal. I don’t want my IF situation played for laughs or ridicule and frankly, knowing MTV, I dread how IF will be tackled. Less freak show, more reality please!

  7. I couldn’t agree more. When I heard they were doing this topic on True Life, I kind of cringed, honestly. Most of those True Life shows bring the drama, as you said. I truly hope they find classy, real people to bring awareness to our community.

  8. Oh, man. I would love people to actually DO THIS.

    I’d also like to throw my two cents in on another point.

    Two years ago, after my father-in-law died (a sudden illness that lasted just a week, with my husband and I standing by his bedside when he passed), my husband and his aunt & uncle and I went to High Holiday services. It was the same service we attended every year with my father-in-law, and it had only been two months since his passing. The rabbi doing the service was at my father-in-law’s bedside with us for a while, and he officiated the funeral, so he knew the drill.

    Well, this rabbi (who is awesome) also liked doing progressive-style services, since it was a Reform congregation, so for one prayer he had a two-congregant duo– a man and a woman– reading, in alternating passages, sections of the prayer interspersed with sections of a free-form creative writing thing the guy wrote of his own father’s very similar passing.

    Basically, we were treated to moments like “*prayer prayer prayer*– ‘Dad. It’s okay. You can let go now,’ I said, holding his frail hand.– *prayer prayer prayer*” and it just about killed both of us because hello, we were JUST THERE, it was painfully raw and vivid for us, still, and the rabbi knew this and gave us no warning. I was shaking with angry and grief. We never went back to that congregation. It was too much.

    The same woman reading the prayer then read another passage in the Yizkor (memorial) service, all about grief and what to do and what not to do when someone has lost a close friend or family member. I was already feeling raw from the earlier part of the service, and was pissed as hell when she said “Hold them. Touch them. Don’t be afraid to touch someone who is experiencing grief. They need your touch.” I thought “NO. DO NOT FRIGGIN TOUCH ME. STOP TELLING PEOPLE TO TOUCH ME.” (Yeah, I took it personally. After all, she was talking about me, too.)

    SO, to anyone looking to go on MTV and talk about infertility: please don’t generalize. Please be very clear about NOT generalizing. Please do not make infertility into “one thing” that hey! happens to some very different people! Don’t let them make infertility something that happens to three stereotypical, convenient parties: a young married couple (hey, but they are young! you just BLEW MY MIND, MTV!)! a “we waited a little while and now it’s all messed up” couple (OH MUH GUH THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE WAITED! WE SEE THAT NOW!), and a single woman using donor sperm (WHAT A DOUBLE WHAMMY, SHE’S ALREADY DOING IT ON HER OWN!) and then make infertility the constant. Please be very clear that RPL is different from Clomid is different from IVF is different from male factor is different from donor eggs is different from navigating adoption is different from continuing on without children, and that sometimes these are overlapping categories. Our experiences are not all the same. We are bound together into one category because we all share grief and a desperate desire for children and for healthy bodies.

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled rant-free Friday! 🙂

    • chon

      Double yay to both of you! How you can make infertility into reality TV is beyond me as how do you capture the true moments of our grief (sitting on the toilet looking at another failed test, crying in the shower so no one can hear, stiff smiles at another baby shower) it can’t be a 16 and pregnant its just so much more than that. It’s the silent inner dialogue and the heart break that is infertility to me.

  9. Kudos to you…Well said. 🙂

  10. 18-29? That, right there, isn’t reality. I’m not saying we’re all in our 30’s, but come on! Wouldn’t 22-35 be a little more “realistic?” What 18 year old is going through infertility? That age range alone tells us what type of audience they’re targeting, and it isn’t me.

  11. Well said. I echo what all your amazing commenters have said above. I just hope that whoever gets chosen get’s it right. I know it’s a huge responsibility but it’s so important.

  12. Yes!

    unfortunately, i fear that it’ll be all sweeping generalizations with “implant the embryo”-type misinformation thrown in. *sigh* And, I should add that even if the couple/person chosen is saying all the right things, the editing will screw it all up anyway.

    There’s my insight into reality/documentary shows that aren’t

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