We’ve had reality shows about children living in villages and performing labor (CBS’ controversial Kid Nation) and ones where a really rich guy marries a winning contestant on air (Fox’s Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire?). Now we have a show about natural births in the great outdoors with Lifetime’s six-episode series Born In The Wild, premiering Tuesday, March 3. At TCA this morning, executive producer Yoshi Stone called it “just another birthing show. It’s a powerful human event; you can’t exhaust that topic.”
The TCA press corps thought otherwise. While there’s a subset of females who practice, and firmly believe in, the natural birthing process over a hospital delivery, the whole idea of natural births in remote Alaska was a very hard idea ethically for the room to swallow. The sizzle reel showed mother Audrey Bird giving birth in an open cabin. Emphasized throughout the reel was the fact that the Birds were far away from medical help with no power lines or sewer systems. The couple’s daughter is now 6 months old.
One reporter griped, “Having a child without medical assistance nearby is a remarkably dangerous thing to do, and I’m wondering about the ethics of the network, the producer — and the incredible irresponsibility.”
Addressing the acerbity of Born In The Wild, Stone said: “We know natural births are a hot-button issue in America. It’s an ongoing, heated debate. At the end of the day, everyone is allowed to make their own choices. We are documenting people who are making a particular choice.”
Said Audrey Bird, “We live in the middle of nowhere, so this was a home birth for us.”
Stone mentioned that contingency plans remained in place during the series shoot. There were ample medical supplies on site for hemorrhaging as well as oxygen. Medevac was on call. In addition, when it came to choosing families to participate in the six-episode series, Stone emphasized that the show merely covered costs “so that the couples were not out of pocket.” In sum, money was never a means to attract participants in the reality series. “We wouldn’t provide financial incentive for them to participate in something that they would not do otherwise,” said the EP.
Produced by Matador, Born In The Wild is executive produced by Stone, Jay Peterson and Todd Lubin alongside Lifetime’s Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Mariana Flynn.