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V is for Vasectomy: Soap procedures that rarely go exactly as planned

Last week on The Bold and the Beautiful, what everyone who has ever watched a soap before expected to happen … happened. Newlywed Ridge learned that the vasectomy he’d neglected to mention to his much younger, baby-rabies infected wife, Caroline, was irreversible. While Caroline learned that she was pregnant.

She flashed back to the night she accidentally spent with Ridge’s son, Thomas. (Hey, Ridge and Caroline were on a break! And Caroline had taken some anxiety medication. And had alcohol on top of it.)

“Oops,” Caroline thought.

B&B does deserve kudos for flipping the script here somewhat. While the pregnancy was a done deal from the moment Caroline suddenly developed an all-encompassing interest in procreation, Ridge confessed his vasectomy to Brooke, and the virile (and very tall) Thomas (Caroline’s ex) returned to town, the traditional, soap-opera narrative would have had Caroline passing the baby off as Ridge’s. Meanwhile, Ridge would secretly fume and plot revenge against his son and wife—and/or cling to her by accepting the baby as his own and never letting Thomas or Caroline know the truth. Though, of course, on soaps, never is usually about a year.

Instead, on Monday, Ridge confessed about the vasectomy to Caroline, telling her that he knew how important having a child was to her and, if she wanted, under the circumstances, they could pretend that their marriage had never happened. (But we all had such a good time at the reception!)

Now the ball, and the lies, are in Caroline’s court. What will she do, what will she do?

It’s a fresh twist on an old story.

On the other hand, Caroline shouldn’t despair quite yet. The show did buy itself some paternity wiggle room by having Caroline say she’d gotten her period in between sleeping with Thomas and marrying Ridge. (Fun fact: Ridge’s mother, Stephanie, convinced Eric to marry her because she was pregnant with the baby who grew up to be Ridge. Stephanie felt certain Eric was Ridge’s father, and not Massimo, whom Stephanie had also slept with, because she’d gotten her period in between. But that turned out to have only been implantation bleeding, and Ridge was Massimo’s after all. Now don’t you feel like you know way too much about the menstrual cycles of imaginary people?)

But the most important fact Ridge and Caroline have going for them is that, on soap operas, vasectomies … don’t exactly take.

B&B and The Young and the Restless take place in the same universe. Both were created by the Bell family, and they’ve had characters cross over from Los Angeles to Genoa City and back again.

On Y&R, Victor was so jealous of his wife Julia’s friendships with other men, he had a vasectomy without telling her. When Julia became pregnant, Victor held her lover, Michael, hostage in a bomb shelter, alternately starving him and feeding him rats. (Yes, this is the same Victor who now lectures others on their moral failings.) While trying to rescue Michael, Julia fell down a flight of stairs (more dangerous to soap-opera pregnant women than even that popular second-trimester horseback ride) and miscarried. Victor learned that the baby had actually been his.

To paraphrase B&B‘s Caroline, “Oops.”

But that’s not the end of this particular sperm saga. Victor trotted out the vasectomy excuse again when Nikki claimed to be pregnant with his child (Victoria also turned out to be his). While married to Diane, Victor had yet another vasectomy (isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?). He also banked some sperm “just in case.” (What? What’s a sperm emergency?)

After their divorce, Diane stole Victor’s sperm to impregnate herself with the child he’d refused to give her. But Nikki switched samples and Diane didn’t get herself a little Victor. On the other hand, Ashley, another of Victor’s exes—who’d aborted their child years earlier—managed to procure the correct sperm and give birth to Victor’s daughter, Abby. Victor then had his latest vasectomy reversed, and it was successful enough (or maybe it, too, had never taken in the first place) for his latest wife, Sabrina, to become pregnant. But then she miscarried and died and no one has mentioned her since. (Now don’t you feel like you know way too much about the testicular workings of imaginary people?)

There was also Fletch on Guiding Light. In the early 1980s, his vasectomy was enough to rule Fletch out as the father of Claire’s baby (even though he and Claire were involved and had slept together several times, while she and Ed, the presumed father, had only made love once, when they thought both Fletch and Ed’s wife, Maureen, had been killed. Procreative grief sex is also big on soaps). But in the mid-1990s, Fletch and his wife, Holly (who didn’t want children to begin with), managed to conceive a daughter.

At least All My Children‘s Ryan got a heads-up about his botched procedure. Or, rather, his wife at the time, Annie, intercepted the letter explaining that Ryan’s doctor had never done the procedure in the first place. Annie had already earlier used Ryan’s sperm to conceive their daughter, Emma, via artificial insemination. Now she thought it would be more fun the old-fashioned way.

Even primetime soaps aren’t immune to this trope. On Falcon Crest, Richard was sure he couldn’t have fathered Melissa’s child due to his vasectomy. Melissa lost that baby, but a later fling, Cassandra, gave birth to a son, Michael, who turned out to be Richard’s, just like she’d always claimed. So take heed, Knots Landing‘s Paige! We learned in the reunion movie that she’d left Greg due to his refusal to have children. (Though he’d told her he’d had a vasectomy while the original series was still on the air. Was she just hoping he’d gone to Richard’s doctor?) The odds of Greg fathering a child have actually gone up post-procedure.

So, B&B‘s Caroline, I’d go ahead and still get that paternity test if I were you.

Who do you think fathered Caroline’s baby?

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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