Yes, Lisa Kudrow Was Really Pregnant During Season 5 Of Friends

Lisa Kudrow's pregnancy was concealed by her surrogacy storyline. Sarah Jessica Parker just carried a really big handbag. But they're not the only ones...

Phoebe Pregnant Carrie

by Guy Pewsey |
Updated on

Imagine it. You're a writer on a hit sitcom, thinking about what your beloved characters might do next. You are contemplating the beginnings of new relationships or the ends of new ones. You are thinking about if it's time for them to have a career change, or perhaps move somewhere new. You are wondering who you'd like to play a love interest, or a family member for a three-episode arc. In short, you've got it all worked out, and then... BAM.

No, not a bus. A pregnancy.

In television, the pregnancy of a star creates a conundrum for TV writers that is generally solved in one of two ways. Either you write it into the script, making their character pregnant too and accepting that the arrival of a child could push your show into an unexpected direction, or you ignore it completely, concealing or ignoring the actress's increasing size, hoping viewers won't care or complain too much, and then return to 'normal' in the next season. Let's look at both options, shall we?

When Lisa Kudrow became pregnant, it must have caused much thought in the Friends writers room. Using it as an opportunity to make Phoebe a mother, after all, wasn't an obvious choice. It would have caused some laughs, but Phoebe lived something of a nomadic lifestyle, making little money as a massage therapist and freelance singer. Yes, she settled down into a more classically 'normal' life later on, but at that point the six-strong friendship circle wasn't exactly primed for a new addition who would have to be around all the time. Ben, Ross's son, was very rarely seen thanks to the convenient fact of living with his mums.

It would, then, have been tempting to ask Lisa to just wear some big jumpers for a few months. But instead, the writers used the pregnancy as an opportunity for one of Phoebe's most popular storyline: the surrogacy journey with her brother Frank Jr and his wife, Alice. This meant that Phoebe had a reason to be pregnant, but did not need to have a baby around for six more seasons (although Friends super fans will remember that the triplets did return on occasion). Quite clever, actually. That said, the fact that Lisa's real-life son - Julian Murray Stern - is now 23 makes us feel super old.

Naturally Lisa is not the only actress to have her pregnancy integrated into her show's narrative: Jennifer Garner of Alias, Alyson Hannigan of How I Met Your Mother, Caterina Scorsone of Private Practice and Jena Fischer of The Office all played pregnant, while pregnant, with scenes of their fictional motherhood journey reflected by their real life growth. Talk about method...

The second decision is often the funniest, albeit accidentally, as it's when the writers decide to proceed full steam ahead with previous plans and not acknowledge the fact that the women on the screens before us are quietly - yet drastically - increasing in size. This is hugely evident in Season 5 of Sex And The City. Sarah Jessica Parker was pregnant during filming of this season, and her growing bump is evident, but it didn't feel right to make Carrie a mother. Naturally, then, the team tried to conceal it with clever camera work (lots of above the waist shots in this season) and the power of fashion, with big skirts and giant bags. But if you watch the relevant episodes - such as the one where she meets Nina Katz - with the knowledge that she was with child then you can't help but notice.

This was also seen in Desperate Housewives, where Marcia Cross was often seen holding enormous gingerbread houses or floral arrangements, as well as in Friends: Courteney Cox is visibly pregnant toward the end of the final season, but just wears a lot of baggy shirts. Chelsea Peretti's bump was used as a recurring gag in the relevant season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, while Frasier's Daphne - played by Jane Leeves - got so big that she was temporarily written out to attend a 'spa for fat people.' She returned having lost 9 pounds, 12 ounces: the weght of her real life baby.

So, there you have it. In TV, pregnant women have two options: lean in to your character's new role as mother, or conceal and jump through bizarre hoops to hide your weight fluctuations. Heaven forbid society would simply not ask questions about a woman's increase or decrease in size, hey?

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