BBC America has this discomforting reality documentary (that sounds like I’m being redundant, but with all the Christopher Guest knock offs out there, you gotta be clear) called My Fake Baby. It centers on perfectly normal, perfectly healthy grown adults who buy these realistic-looking baby dolls for thousands of dollars modeled from submitted photos. They treat and care for these little-lumps-of-plastic like they were the real thing. Here’s my five word review: Really creepy. Depressing at moments.
This one joke series (which, for me, was preceded by a KY Jelly ad which is ironic because a condom ad would’ve been much more fitting) follows neurotic Madeline (Missy Yager aka Betty’s friend, Sara Beth Carson on Mad Men!), who is ambivalent about parenthood with her husband Harry (Lucas Bryant).
“Plants die under my care,” Madeline professes to her therapist (Leslie Hope) regarding her fear of accidentally breaking a newborn baby. Soft-spot-in-the-back-of-the-head jokes follow. Taking the advice of her therapist, Madeline decides to care for a plastic, worry-free (if it breaks there’s a warranty!) faux baby doll named Adam, who comes with an instruction manual.
“He cries, he sleeps, he poops, he pees.!” the therapist proclaims before tossing faux baby in the direction of her client. “Consider it a trial run.”
I get it. Madeline and her husband start taking care of Adam. This results in an awkward juxtaposition of all the feelings associated with raising an actual baby and the reality that the baby is anything but real. Unpredictable comedic mayhem ensues (just kidding it’s – very predictable).
Oh no! Faux baby starts crying. They don’t know what to do. Faux baby gets left in the refrigerator. Faux baby gets dropped. Faux baby needs a new arm. Faux baby gets fed hair conditioner (“That’s what faux babies eat do you expect me to lactate?”). You get the idea.
With an REM-ish theme song (What’s the deal baby? Is he for real baby…), it’s not a wonder the web show is written and produced by a team who have such creds as the Lifetime Network (Jennifer Maisel, Rachel Leventhal, Laura Brennan). I could see this idea as one episode of a TV show or an after school special, but an entire series? Are there that many fake baby jokes? Now, if the premise revolved around dead babies, I’d say we might have something here, but as is, I can’t see the story arcing high enough to keep viewers involved. After the first minute, it’s already hit its plateau.
Episode Two: Bringing Up Faux Baby is more of the same. Faux baby gets taken to a coffee shop. Passer-bys believe it’s a real baby: “He’s a doll!”
Where the BBC documentary series My Fake Baby has an intriguing gloss of depressing humanity, Faux Baby is a one joke idea too many.