NBC Special Asks: Did Baby Borrowers Go Too Far?
Dr. Drew Pinsky by Jonathan Alcorn/WireImage.com
This Wednesday at 9 pm/ET, NBC plays host to
The Baby Borrowers: Lessons Learned
, a "town hall" gathering in which the teen couples and child-lending parents featured on the controversial series reunite for the first time since filming wrapped a year ago. Also on hand is a panel of opinionated experts as well as sampling of the Gloucester, Mass., teens who allegedly engaged in the "pregnancy pact" that made headlines in May. Dr. Drew Pinsky, who cohosts the NBC special with Hoda Kotb, shares a peek at the
TVGuide.com: Was there a lot of drama at the taping of The Baby Borrowers: Lessons Learned?
Dr. Drew Pinsky:
The biggest drama came from the kids. Their relationships aren't going so well.
TVGuide.com: You mean between the teen girlfriends and boyfriends?
Yeah, the interpersonal relationships aren't going so hot. That's one of the points, that you think you're going to live in this fantasy "This is my eternal love, my soul mate!" when in fact it's just an 18-year-old's working-through relationship.
TVGuide.com: That was my first thought when this show came out: Teenage romances are tenuous to begin with - and you want to lob a kid into the mix?!
Right. Teenage romances are supposed to end. Marriages are bad enough in this country, but if you really want to have a bad outcome, get married under the age of 21 or 22. That will virtually guarantee it. The other issue was between the parents, the "lenders," and the critics of the show.
TVGuide.com: The parents were totally second-guessed in the media.
Yeah, and they're very substantial people. They're very defensive of their decision to do this. One of the telling pieces of data that comes out of it is they all said they would do it again if they could.
TVGuide.com: Natalie, one of the lenders, came by here for a video Q&A. She said that, having been a teen mom herself, she wanted to show how difficult it is.
[On the special] Dr. Kyle D. Pruett, a very fine psychiatrist, took an excellent and clear position, but then he goes, "I have an idea for a TV show! You could have taken teens who are pregnant and documented the stresses of their daily life." I thought, "This is the problem you people who are critics of the show do not understand what the demands of television are. If we put one of the concepts that my peers came up with on television, it would be great and safe and make a point, but have zero viewers." You have to partner with TV people who know to capture the eyes so that you
deliver the message. That's what
did beautifully. It turned up the heat and supersized the circumstances, and then gave very, very clear important messages that in my opinion were worth the risk. This is not a clinical enterprise, it's a commercial enterprise, and we have to find ways as clinicians to partner with it.
TVGuide.com: The American Psychiatric Association has called for Baby Borrowers to never be aired again....
When I read the APA's criticism [of the possible mental health implications on the "lent out" children], that was my same thought, but you have to understand how television is made. You have to find ways to solve those problems using ideas that capture the eyes. You have to
it ethical. I gave the producers ideas - and they were open to it - on how to make it as safe and ethical as possible. They don't know how to do that, the same way that we as clinicians don't know how to make television. [
TVGuide.com: What was your own point-of-view on the contention that the kids being lent out, especially the younger ones, could suffer some sort of damage from this experience?
Of course as a mental health person, that's the big problem - the attachment and security that kids have, the lack of time with parents. But there's an equally powerful body of research that shows that there's a tremendous
in kids. Provided they have a good attachment with the parent from which to restore themselves, they can actually tolerate a
of stress. No one knows the answer to the question, How much time can you be away from your kids and not damage them? How much time can you work, keep your kid in daycare? This show is daycare on steroids! [
] The part that was hardest for me to watch as a parent was the toddler section, when you
the kids are consciously feeling the separation anxiety. But the parents were going in and out all the time. We met all the [borrowed] kids, and they seem as healthy as can be. But at the end of the day, we don't know, that's the bottom line.