Method Monday: Birth Control—For TV Characters!
We are always on the lookout for birth control appearances on TV. Sadly, it’s pretty rare to see characters popping a birth control pill or unwrapping a condom in the heat of the moment.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate… Here are our best guesses for what birth control method four of our favorite television characters are using. Think we’ve got it all wrong? Tell us what method you think these characters are using in the comments!
Character 1: Olivia Pope, Scandal
Her method: The implant
Here’s why: Olivia’s entire life is cleaning up other people’s dirty messes, so we imagine she’s boss at keeping her own affairs in order. That includes birth control—Olivia’s most likely to want a method that’s effective, low-maintenance, and discrete. After all, she doesn’t need another thing to remember; she’s already got a lot on her mind.
The implant is perfect for Olivia. She handles secrets for a living, so she’s likely to appreciate the total privacy the implant offers, not to mention its reliability and three-year span of effectiveness. One trip to the doctor’s office for a quick insertion, and she’s set for practically another election cycle. No trips to the pharmacy or the family planning aisle, so she can focus on telling Fitz like it is.
Character 2: Hannah Horvath, Girls
Here’s why: We love that Girls has tackled the topic of condoms, but we’re thinking Hannah could use a backup plan. We’d like to see her using something super-effective and low-maintenance like the implant or the IUD, but considering that she’s impulsive, uninsured, and really broke, we know that’s probably wishful thinking. Hannah’s not exactly attuned to her body’s signals either, so fertility awareness would probably be a bad bet.
So what’s left? Hannah’s combination of condoms and emergency contraception will hopefully keep her protected from STIs and baby free (though we would totally watch the season of Girls where Hannah gets pregnant). Emergency contraception can be bought over the counter at any pharmacy in Brooklyn, so it’s probably just a matter of time before it turns up on the show. Until then, we’ll be on the edge of our seats watching Hannah’s love life unfold…
Character 3: Peggy Olson, Mad Men
Her method: The pill
Here’s why: If you’ve followed Mad Men since the beginning, you know **spoiler alert** that Peggy knows first-hand what happens when you’re not on a solid, effective birth control method (or when you’re not using it right?). She’s grown up (and wised up) since having Pete’s secret baby, however, and as a successful woman in a man’s world, Peggy’s the type to want an easy, discreet, reliable method of birth control.
Today’s Peggy might choose an option that doesn’t require daily maintenance like the ring, the patch, the shot, the implant, or the IUD. But in 1963? We’re guessing she would’ve been a pill girl. The pill isn’t necessarily an ideal method for Peggy—with her busy schedule she might forget or be unable to take the pill at the same time every day (and she’s an occasional smoker). But in the 60s the pill was pretty much the only show in town for women who wanted a really effective method to prevent pregnancy.
Character 4: Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
Here’s why: Mindy’s talked about using condoms before on the show, and they’re a great fit for someone like Mindy, who’s dating casually and might need STI protection in addition to pregnancy prevention. But Mindy’s also a gynecologist, so she’s an expert on birth control options. We bet she’s not relying on condoms alone. In fact, there’s one method we’re almost sure she’s using, since it’s the method of choice for female obstetrician/gynecologists….
…the IUD! The IUD is great because (A) it’s super reliable and (B) once it’s inserted, it can remain effective for anywhere from 3 to 12 years depending on what type you get. As a young doctor working to establish her career, Mindy probably isn’t looking to start a family for a few years, so the long period of effectiveness an IUD offers is definitely a good fit for her needs. And, let’s be real—Mindy could use the reliability.
Who else should we be speculating about? Comment with your ideas for a Part 2…
5 Tips for Flirting, Onscreen and Off
My vlog question this month was what makes someone a “Smooth Talker.” After many interviews, I’ve concluded that a big part of it is showing romantic interest in someone in a way that gets them interested too. Otherwise known as flirting—something I am constantly being accused of, even when my interest is 100% non-romantic. However, when I am looking to get the attention of someone I find attractive, there are at least 5 things I know I do. And they work in TV and movies too!
Check them out:
1. Make your presence known. When you’re interested in someone, make sure they know you exist. This can be accomplished simply by smiling, maintaining eye contact, and initiating conversation. May seem obvious, but even I have been guilty of depending on mutual friends to introduce me to someone I find cute. But a casual introduction by a third party does not say, “I think you’re hot!” And the key is to make a lasting impression. Anyone who’s watched the movie Hitch’s Alex ‘Hitch’ Hitchens (Will Smith) has witnessed this being accomplished against all odds:
2. Give compliments. And not just obvious ones. Instead, be in the moment and look for actions or traits that genuinely impress you to comment on. If the person you’re interested in says something to make you laugh, don’t be afraid to mention how funny you think he or she is. And if all else fails, you can always dedicate a poem to your love interest, like Darius (Larenz Tate) did to Nina (Nia Long) after they first met in Love Jones.
3. Find a reason to make contact. Innocent, unnecessary touching is a guaranteed way to show interest! And an easy way to start is with a handshake. Not one with a power grip, but one that lingers and is accompanied with eye contact and a smile. Another way to “connect” is a subtle forearm grab upon excusing yourself to go to the bathroom or leaning in to talk in a loud room. In most cases this only works for women, but men can sometimes pull it off too. On Sex and the City, for example, Robert (Blair Underwood) went beyond the call of duty to make contact with Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) around minute 2:15 of this clip:
4. Names matter. Never underestimate the power of remembering and using someone’s name. And saying someone’s name suggests you’re interested in getting to know them better. Check out Whitley (Jasmine Guy) from A Different World—after making her presence known (tip #1!)—strategically slipping in the name of the guy she’s crushing on (min 1:34):
5. Be engaged! Be inquisitive! This is where my work as a journalist comes in handy;) You’ll never guess how many times I’ve been introduced to someone for the first time and learned something about them that our mutual friend knew nothing about. Listening, asking follow-up questions, and getting to those “I can’t believe I’m telling you this” moments will definitely leave a lasting impression.
And always: Be Yourself. When flirting, ultimately you should only say and do things that come naturally. Nothing is worse than looking like you’re trying too hard!
Have you used any of these tips while flirting? Tips of your own to share?
Veralyn Williams is a Multimedia Freelance Journalist currently working in New York City. She has spent 4 years at WNYC Radio working with various departments including: Radio Rookies, Culture, News, and Freakonomincs. Also freelancing for Black Enterprise, BronxNet Television,Bedsider, and The Museum for African Art. Her independent work is featured on her website VeralynMedia.com. Through all of her endeavors she aims to give a voice to perspectives that are often forgotten in the media.
Girls (with new wave hairdos…)
STIs, virginity, confusing hookups, and a visit to the lady doctor, all in one episode? Lauren’s not the only one who’s excited about the debut of Girls. But with all the conversation the show has already sparked, does anyone else out there have this song on repeat in their heads? Not that we’re complaining…
We give the show props for realistically representing how young women use—and don’t use—birth control. But we won’t lie and say we’re not fantasizing about an episode where the characters discover the wonderful world of long-acting reversible contraception. (Fingers crossed!)
Sex On TV: So That’s Why They Call It The Boob Tube
Greetings, Tumblees! I may not be as funny as Danny Rouhier or as sex savvy as Lena Chen, but there’s one thing I’m pretty damn good at: watching television. And after many tedious hours of forcing myself (okay, “forcing myself”) to watch episode after episode of sitcoms, dramas, reality television, and the occasional home shopping network program, I’ve discovered something rather groundbreaking. At any given moment, night or day, Law and Order is playing on some channel. 456 episodes over 20 years. Makes sense. But that’s not the headlining news. What I did learn was that television shows love to make their characters get busy. You know, vertical jogging. Making whoopee. Schtupping. And they like doing it a lot. (Arguably, not so much on the Home Shopping Network, but I think we can all agree that there’s something fishy going on with that Shake Weight thing…)
So what’s my vested interest? Growing up, I learned everything I know about sex, love, and relationships from television. I think I entered the scene with 7th Heaven. Since Lucy started dating when she was 12, I figured it was about time to put on my Limited Too training bra and look for the side of boys that didn’t have cooties. During my OC phase, seeing Marissa date Ryan, the bad boy, made me start peering over the proverbial train tracks, just to see what I was missing, ultimately realizing that I was much more interested in the Converse wearing, comic book reading, coffee-cart-proclaiming Seth. Then came college nights spent in Gossip Girl land, yearning to date a guy like Dan—perfectly scruffy, perfectly witty, and perfectly situated in a gorgeous loft in Brooklyn. I’m chronologically regressing somewhat as I now spend my Sunday evenings at Downton Abbey, but no one can exude aching lust in a longing glance like Lady Mary Crawley.
Whether it’s awkward, creative, boring, or ridiculous, television just isn’t the same without sex. After all, what’s more entertaining than watching sex? Well, I guess having sex. But it’s the humanity of it all: sex yields life. Literally. (Unless, of course, you’re using effective birth control.) It can elicit pretty much any human emotion, whether it’s knee-slapping laughter, heartwarming love, or need-to-leave-the-room discomfort. Sometimes, all in the same episode.
This is not a completely brand-spankin’ new venture. You may recall the days of occasional “Sex on TV” postings on the now obsolete SexReally.com. Not ringing any bells? What about this? Yeah, more of that. Probably less snark (but no promises).
So that brings me here, blogging out all the good, bad and ugly news that’s fit to print about boning on Bones, smashing on Smash, and plowing on Ice Road Truckers (Ew. I’m sorry, I had to). I will take one for the team, watch all the shows and ignore all of the distant rumblings of “those who can’t do, teach.” It’s actually my job to watch sex on TV, kids. Beat that.
Lauren Mann works in The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Entertainment Media department. She’s been blogging about sex, love and relationships among twenty-somethings since she first joined the Campaign as an intern in 2009. Check out her personal blog at whatjewtalkingbout.tumblr.com.