© 2019

Surrogacy and the Reproduction of Normative Family on TV


Part of the Palgrave Studies in Science and Popular Culture book series (PSSPC)

About this book


This book examines the proliferation of surrogacy storylines on TV, exploring themes of infertility, motherhood, parenting and family. It investigates how, despite reproductive technologies’ ability to flex contours of family, the shows’ narratives work to uphold the white, heterosexual, genetically-reproduced family as the ideal. In dialogue with responses from a range of female viewers, both mothers and non-mothers, the book scrutinises the construction of family ideology on television with studies including Coronation Street (1960-present),Giuliana & Bill (2009-2014), Rules of Engagement (2007-2013), The New Normal (2012-2013), Top of the Lake: China Girl (2017) The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-present) and film Baby Mama (2008). These studies raise a number of questions; is homosexuality only acceptable when it echoes heterosexual norms? Are female characters only fulfilled when they are genetic mothers? Does heterosexual romance override technology in the cure for infertility? While the answers to these questions may suggest that television still conforms to heteronormative narratives, this book importantly demonstrates that audiences desire alternative happy endings that show infertile female characters more positively and recognise alternative kinship formations as meaningful.


television genetics audience studies homosexuality female sexuality gender mothers romance heterosexual heteronormative queer infertility children body technologies baby intimacy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

About the authors

Lulu Le Vay is a Visiting Lecturer and Module Leader for University of West London, Roehampton, and University of Westminster, UK. She is also a professional DJ and music consultant who performs regularly at art happenings and exclusive music events across the UK and globally.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Surrogacy and the Reproduction of Normative Family on TV
  • Authors Lulu Le Vay
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in Science and Popular Culture
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in Science and Popular Culture
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-17569-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-17572-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-17570-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIX, 258
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 5 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Screen Studies
    Culture and Gender
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Drawing on a rich archive of feminist scholarship, this timely and original analysis of repro-TV dramas and new ways of baby-making unpacks the normative scripting of (in)fertility journeys and makes a powerful and persuasive case for new plotlines in popular culture and beyond.” (Sarah Franklin, University of Cambridge, UK)

“When and how did the foetus become a commodity? When and how did motherhood become sexualised? When did having children become a socially necessary compulsion? This book offers a great read to answer these and many more questions, showing how a sensationalised emotional space of anxiety, insecurity, desperation and incompleteness is produced by TV to shape our expectations of future family life. But does it succeed?”  (Beverley Skeggs, London School of Economics, UK)

“This book is a significant and indeed seminal volume on the representation of surrogacy and third party reproduction on screen. The ways in which the author and the audience make sense of the depiction of surrogates, intended parents and the much longed for biological child is a must read for those researching from within the fields of motherhood, film, television and media studies.” (Rebecca Feasey, Bath Spa University, UK)

“Sparkily written, perceptive and illuminating, this is a fascinating and original contribution to the burgeoning academic literature on representations of family and motherhood. Lulu Le Vay’s book incisively analyses both the place of surrogacy in contemporary culture and TV’s fascination with it. In the process, it argues convincingly that both media and academia cultures need to make much more space for the diversity of what ‘a family’ can mean.” (Jo Littler, City, University of London, UK)

“Le Vay’s timely book explores representations of surrogacy and motherhood in the media. Through a series of close analyses of TV programmes such as The New Normal and Rules of Engagement and film Baby Mama, she explores not only the anxieties surrounding infertility and the impact of reproductive technologies, but also the ways that these anxieties reflect the changing shape of family in modern life. Drawing on queer, affect and feminist theory, and through the use of focus groups, Le Vay offers an original and compelling interpretation of issues around surrogacy in popular culture.” (Kristyn Gorton, York University, UK)