When Amy Schumer first discovered she was pregnant, she could never have predicted the tough road the pregnancy would take her on, much less that it would be the subject of a three-part documentary miniseries for HBO Max.
The comedian was in the throes of preparing a comedy special when she was struck with hyperemesis gravidarum, a hugely debilitating condition that affects around 1% of pregnant women, meaning they experience prolonged and severe nausea and vomiting beyond the first trimester. From hospitalizations, to performing in front of crowds of thousands, to moments at home with her husband Chris Fischer, Schumer shares it all in Expecting Amy.
“Once I started getting really sick, I think [filming] was a defense mechanism that made me feel like I was in some sort of control since I had no control over my body,” Schumer said, speaking during a virtual panel at Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted awards-season event.
When she had collated some footage, she reached out to Alexander Hammer, the editor behind Beyoncé’s Grammy-winning Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé, to see if there was a story there. He quickly saw there was something in it.
“This is probably one of my most favorite projects I’ve worked on,” said Hammer. “So much positivity comes out of it. Amy is able to put laughter to something that is so ridiculously difficult, so the moment we started talking, I completely understood there was something there. She’s someone who, even before you put the camera on her, because of the history of who she is, you just start getting ready to giggle a little bit. So being able to mix the heart with the humor was loads of fun.”
In addition to baring it all on the pregnancy front, the doc bravely tackles the subject of autism as viewers are taken on Fischer’s journey through his diagnosis on the autism spectrum.
“Because this diagnosis is becoming statistically more and more [prevalent], we really wanted to destigmatize it and say, ‘Hey, we’re a really happily married couple and Chris has had a really successful and satisfying life so far and so can you,’ ” said Schumer.
She adds: “Everybody has a different relationship to autism. It doesn’t have to be this heartbreaking sentence. There are so many wonderful gifts that come with autism and I feel like Alex really captured Chris in such a beautiful way. I’m grateful to Alex forever.”
Check out the panel video above.