Date of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Type



College of Nursing

Director of Thesis

Dr. Rhonda Johnson

First Reader

Dr. Robin Dawson

Second Reader

Dr. Robin Dawson


This is a concurrent, mixed methods pilot study that combines quantitative analysis and qualitative observations with the aim of examining the portrayal of childbirth in modern American comedy shows. 38 episodes airing from 2010 to 2020 (n=38) were analyzed according to objective elements of representation (e.g., location of birth, interventions employed, etc.), as well as coded for common themes. Quantitative data revealed that the most represented births in comedy shows on American television from the 2010s were vaginal (82.1%), in the hospital (69.2%), uncomplicated (66%), and represented technological interventions (66%). Qualitative analysis found six main themes: chaos surrounding childbirth; disgust for birth and the physiological changes in female anatomy; reliance on medical providers; lack of modesty and autonomy; futility of non-pharmacological pain management during labor; and dismissal of midwifery and doulas. Overall, these findings align with Robbie Davis-Floyd’s technocratic model of birth (2018). Further research should focus on how these representations on television impact the perceptions of nulliparous young women who want to have children in the future, as well as how birth is portrayed in newer forms of media, including TikTok and birth vlogging on Youtube.

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© 2021, Emily Smith