Web series invites viewers to choose outcome of unintended pregnancies

I am uneasy about this.

From CNA with my emphases and comments:


Viewers will choose outcome of women with unintended pregnancies in new series

San Diego, Calif., Jan 24, 2010 / 07:06 am (CNA).- A new webcast series will focus on the [NB:] fictional stories of three women who face unintended pregnancies. It will allow viewers to choose how the characters’ stories will end for the final episode.

Yellow Line Studio said the premiere of BUMP+ would be Friday, Jan. 22. Thirteen episodes will follow in February and March, the California Catholic Daily reports.

“From Juno and Bella to Glee and Desperate Housewives, [Note the language] a woman’s right to choose has been explored [trumpted] across the media landscape,” said the series’ executive producer Dominic Iocco. “What makes BUMP+ different from the others is that we’re letting the viewers decide how our characters’ stories will end. We’ve opened the official website to comments and our team will craft the final episodes based on audience feedback. Their choice really is up to you.”  [I am uneasy about this.]

Series co-executive producer Christopher Riley said [GET THIS!] the series was inspired by President Barack Obama’s May 2009 commencement speech to graduates at Notre Dame[?!?  Notre Shame… a gift that keeps on giving.]

“He urged people on both sides of the debate to find ways to communicate about a workable solution to the problem of unintended pregnancies,” Riley explained.

He described the series as an “experiment to see if story can succeed where nearly four decades of angry rhetoric and political posturing have failed.” [Has it?  Is this what should have been done about the civil rights movement?]

We’re not making a moral or political statement; [HUH?  Not moral?   This isn’t a moral issue?] hopefully, we’re starting a conversation with the audience,” Riley added, according to the California Catholic Daily.  [We’ll see.]

Yellow Line Studio said a trailer for the pilot has attracted several comments and personal stories for viewers and it is gaining a following on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

The San Diego-based studio describes itself as an independent entertainment company. It operates a satellite office in Los Angeles.

The website of the series is at http://www.bumptheshow.com.


I am uneasy about this.

Am I wrong? 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. MargaretMN says:

    I don’t think most people would find a show where you can vote on whether characters kill eachother or commit suicide a good idea even if they couldn’t explain why it’s bad in terms of morality. The next thing will be a reality TV show with real people.

  2. Jacob says:

    So they want to have a conversation with commenters and use the feedback to decide the outcome, no vote…

    It’s rigged.

  3. Craig says:

    OK…I just re-read the intro…this is a ‘webcast-series’…for a second I thought this was on prime-time network tv.

    Meh…other than it’s obvious riffing by the pro-death camp trying to appear ‘fair and balanced’ and wash their hands of any possible guilt…it’ll probably go nowhere.

    I think a majority of people still like entertainment and not being a part of some gruesome socialogical experiment.

  4. Jord says:

    Voters decided the outcome of Obamacare. Thank God.

    But this show sounds like a values clarification preparing people to back Nazi Germany.

    This is the kind of non-sense that went on in Rwanda before the genocide.

    It was the radio station that kept doing this kind of thing.

    But we’re better than they are because we’re not there, but here, right?

    That kind of thing would never happen here, right?

    Wake up, America.

  5. cheekypinkgirl says:

    I think the premise of this show is disgusting. Allowing total strangers of any moral or immoral fiber/character to dictate the future viability of something growing inside your body? Yuck. Maybe we should have a show where voters get to decide if certain people receive chemotherapy or not. It would be the same, as far as I’m concerned. Or maybe people could vote live on the guy in the emergency room on whether or not he gets open-heart surgery.

  6. wanda says:

    Pray for our young brothers and sisters, they are under constant attack as is the family. Ol’ Nod would love to split us up and get us separated and isolated. Sitting ducks. The demons roam about the earth seeking the ruin of souls. St. Michael the Archangel,go kick some butt.

  7. Prof. Basto says:

    Morality is not determined by a majority vote.

    Morality is not merely the result of contingent consensus within a society. Otherwise, the Third Reich would have been moral, because most Germans supported the Nazis.

    If our societies are democracies, then the democratic process determines the contents of our statutes, but the democratic process is no guarantee that our statutes will conform to a higher moral code.

    That the law is not always agreeable to a moral code is something that the Romans already new, as the warning Non omne quod licet honestum est shows: not everything that is (legaly) permitted is honest (morally correct).

    And yet, the goal of moral correctness was already identified as one of the basic principles of the Law (the law shouldn’t be immoral): Iuris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. Honeste vivere, to live honestly, means to live according to moral principles. The concept of “honestum” is a moral concept.

    So, morality and the Law are not the same thing, but they cannot be separated either. If one is allowed to paraphrase the dogmatic formula of the Council of Chalcedon for poetic purposes, then one can say: there is no confusion between morality and the law, but there can be no separation either.

    Because there can be no confusion between morality and the law, a majority vote is incapable of change the moral standard.

    Though laws may be changed by that process, the moral code, the supra-legal Natural Law inprinted by God in the hearts of man, cannot be thus changed.

    And because there can be no separation either between morality and the laws, we should see to it that our human laws conform always to the higher moral standard.

    And that is why no “conversation” will ever change the fact that abortion is immoral, evil, and repugnant to natural law.

    Nowadays, our legal systems are grounded on the supremacy of Constitutions, and/or in the supremacy of certain fundamental rights (civil rights, human rights, the names vary), those rights being ensrhrined either in the national Constitution and/or in solemn international declarations or conventions.

    After a period in which certain schools of thought (especially legal positivism) attempted a complete separation between the Law and morality, and also attempted to deny the existance of any kind of natural law, of any higher law above the law of the State, of human construction, the Western societies, in the wake of World War II, turned their attention once again to the necessity that the Law be
    grounded on sound principles. Hence the concern with the proclamation of inalienable human rights.

    But the proclamation of human rights is not sufficient to secure the morality of the law, because of the problem of interpretation. There will be those who will try to read immoral things into the fundamental rights. That is why Life, the gift of life, life as a good, is the cornerstone upon which all interpretation must be grounded.

    One cannot be a trully supporter of civil rights if one does not recognize the dignity inherent in human life, meriting protection from the moment of conception to that of natural death.

    No vote can abrogate the dignity of human life.

  8. TNCath says:

    Wow, I think this is “entertainment” at a new low. Uneasy, indeed.

  9. BillR says:

    I watched the first installment with my wife and it is clearly scripted and acted, rather than a reality show. It’s obvious since one of the women is pregnant with another man’s child while her husband is deployed to Iraq. While plausible, it seems unlikely that she’d go on a TV show and talk about hiding it. Personally, the whole thing creeps me out, but I also realize that I’m not the target audience. I have read two posts or critiques of this series. The fist is by Elizabeth Foss (http://ebeth.typepad.com/reallearning/) who points out that it is being done by students at John Paul the Great University. That gives me some hope that this is truly geared in a direction of life and of hope rather than the usual culture of death, MSM production. The other, to which she links, is written by Mary Hasson and really hits at the flaw of the premise. (http://www.phasesofwomanhood.org/index.php?showPage=354&cmtid=569) Regardless, it does push the debate into a different medium and possibly a different audience. I will continue to pray that the message that it produces is one of faith, hope, and ultimately life for the unborn.

  10. MikeM says:

    When it’s time for the vote, perhaps Fr. Z could do a little poll pushing?

  11. Virgil says:

    I think you should not be uneasy. The best weapon we pro-lifers have is the fact that women are FREE TO CHOOSE LIFE!

    We much prefer a universe in which all mothers freely choose the gift of children.

    The alternative (as the fake “pro-choice” crowd would have it) is a country where one choice (abortion) leads to punishment, another choice (keeping the baby) leads to poverty, and a third choice (adoption) leads to social stigma.

    How much better to live in a place where all women and men value the lives that they help to create. Can this project help the catechisis?

    Pray that this project continues to be inspired!

  12. thereseb says:

    Don’t forget to bring your own cushion, a skin of wine, and a picnic of larks-tongues pies. Those stone seats at the Coliseum are really hard. Ave Ceasar.

  13. RichardT says:

    BUMP+ ? Wouldn’t “Bumped Off” be a more suitable title?

    But I am relieved that it is acted, rather than a reality show.

  14. Tim Ferguson says:

    Executive Producer Dominic Iocco certainly sounds like he has a “Catholic” name. I wonder what kind of moral formation he had in his education. I wonder what his relationship is to the Dominic Iocco who is Provost and business professor at San Diego’s John Paul the Great University.

  15. thereseb: LOL!
    (Or should I be crying?…great connection, there). Visiting the Coliseum I was very aware of all the Catholics that died there in the midst of the kind of atmosphere you describe…while folks were carrying on around me, I prayed the Rosary and the Jesus Prayer…I remembered St. Therese’s description of her visit there and just wanted to pray and honor the memory of all those who died for Jesus. It was not a very prayerful or contemplative experience. But I guess Calvary was filled with chaos and noise.
    And the seats there are “really harrrd”…yeah!

  16. Supertradmom says:

    One of the problems in a democracy, is that such things as morals and cultural norms become the topics of “majority” vs. “minority” rule. de Tocqueville warned us of this in his excellent book on Democracy in America.

    I am suspect as well, as I feel the entire set-up of this is based on the false premise that we can decide what is good and evil. Of course, the “feel good” factor is part of this relativistic view.

  17. Patrick J. says:

    From his blog, he seems staunchly orthodox (Catholic) and fairly far right of center politically. He is concerned about the “Catholic” experiences on many traditionally “Catholic” universities and how that is fostering, or seems to be, a falling away from, rather than towards, a true Catholic faith identity and walk. So I would not worry so much here.

  18. Subvet says:

    It starts as a webcast.

    Then, due to popular demand it becomes a TV show.

    It then progresses to an actual reality show. During this entire time the viewing population that supports it becomes increasingly numb to outrage, more accustomed to accepting this sort of barbarity in real life. We continue sliding into a full blown culture of death mentality. Human life is valued less and less.

    At the same time this goes on, be ready for a counterpart at the other end of life’s scale, maybe a series where the viewers decide if a geezer should get the needle due to “quality of life” issues.

    You’re “uneasy” Father? I’m ready to puke!

  19. Dave N. says:


    Just because this man may be “staunchly orthodox (Catholic) and fairly far right of center politically” doesn’t automatically mean 100% of his ideas are good ones.

  20. Fr. Z: Yes, you should be uneasy. As I am.
    And no, you are not wrong.
    And I have no idea what this whole thing is about, other than what I’ve read here.
    This only further “dehumanizes” the unborn child, proposes that there is, in fact, a choice, when life must always be protected, and takes the dignity and respect of motherhood away from said mother.
    Puke is absolutely right, Subvet.

  21. adagio48 says:

    Thumbs up or thumbs down……minus the gladiators and wild beasts!

  22. Lee says:

    “Executive Producer Dominic Iocco certainly sounds like he has a “Catholic” name. I wonder what kind of moral formation he had in his education. I wonder what his relationship is to the Dominic Iocco who is Provost and business professor at San Diego’s John Paul the Great University.”

    Since Michael Barber, scripture professor at John Paul the Great Catholic University, gives a lot of play to this program on his blog, The Sacred page, I am pretty sure it is the same Dominic Iocco.

    The goal of the unversity with its heavy emphasis on media and business is to “impact the culture for Christ.”

    Let’s see what they do with this. It could be every bit as profound as Bella. Let us suppose that the audience votes thumbs down, as in fact our whole culture is doing. That gives these Catholic writers and actors the opportunity to dramatize the emotional and medical effects of a real abortion.

    Regarding the general tenor of the comments here, whatever happened to, “Invesitage first, then find fault” ?

  23. Lee says:

    This is from the JPCU website:

    Winter 2010 Screenings: Thursday, February 18

    Location: Poway Ultrastar; 13475 Poway Road; Poway, CA 92064-4713
    The Soul of Kalaupapa – beautiful documentary that portrays a deep and binding interfaith friendship between Catholics, Protestants and Latter-day Saints in their leprosy settlement on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

    BUMP – is a provocative new web series from Yellow Line Studio that follows the stories of three women facing unintended pregnancies.
    The Soul of Kalaupapa is a compelling and timely documentary that beautifully portrays a deep interfaith friendship and cross-faith community building between Catholics, Protestants and Latter-day Saints in their leprosy settlement on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. It looks closely at the work of Saint Damien and a Hawaiian Mormon, Jonathan Napela with the patients at the settlement. Kalaupapa serves as a model of the Latin maxim: “In the essentials; unity, the non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.”

    Following the 45 minute documentary, Prof Woods will tell the story behind the story and hold a Q & A. Register Now

    Produced by Dr Fred Woods, the Richard L. Evans Chair Professor of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University. Fred, a native of Southern California, completed his Ph.D. at the University of Utah in Middle East Studies (with an emphasis in Hebrew Bible) has been a professor at BYU since 1998. He was appointed as a Richard L. Evans Chair in 2005. Fred and his wife JoAnna are the parents of five children and two granddaughters.

    BUMP – The Show is a provocative new web series from Yellow Line Studio that follows the stories of three women facing unintended pregnancies. Conflicted army wife Katie Donahue (Christina Schlapprizzi), fame-seeking sorority girl Hailey Kirsch (Lyndsey Doolen), and free-spirited mother of two Denise Jensen (Isabelle Giroux) have just one thing in common. They’re all expecting…unexpectedly. Each woman has her own reasons for accepting a reality show producer’s invitation to chronicle the very personal journey toward a decision about her pregnancy; but no one, including their physician, Dr. Patterson (Andray Johnson), is prepared for what happens when the cameras start rolling. BUMP – The Experiment is an attempt to see if story can succeed where nearly four decades of rhetoric and political posturing have failed. Inspired by President Obama’s call to people on both sides of the abortion debate to open the lines of communication and find workable solutions to the problem of unintended pregnancies, Yellow Line Studio is starting that conversation inside the safety zone of a fictional world based on real life situations. Is our society willing to give it a try? How authentic are these characters? And how serious are we about an open, honest exploration of this controversial topic? Register Now

    The screenings are FREE – Registration is required

    First Name
    Last Name
    Postal Code
    I’m will attend Choose One The Soul of Kalaupapa BUMP Both
    Also attending with me.
    Check if you would NOT like to receive an email reminder of the Screening.

  24. Lee: I don’t get it…what exactly does John Paul the Great University mean to involve themselves in this?
    The Venerable John Paul the Second, himself, would absolutely abhor this kind of media thingy…don’t meant to speak for him, but I am rather well versed in his theology/writings…this just sounds like a way to get ratings. I’m sorry. I’m just unimpressed.

  25. cheekypinkgirl says:

    Perhaps you are right in saying that this should be watched/critiqued before being judged. However, someone here pointed out that the premise of this show could easily be picked up by the mainstream and reproduced as a reality show. That’s the bad part of this – it opens the door to an idea of allowing something similar that the masses will see.

  26. Agnes says:

    Sounds like further exploitation of women (and their unborn) for the sake of entertainment. Not pornography in a physical sense but in some psycho-emotional sense – let’s exploit her tragedies, her interior desires and confessional material for the world to see. Let’s eviscerate her soul and see what’s inside, and then you the viewer get to solve all her anguish by proposing a death sentence to her unborn. False feminism has taught us nothing, absolutely nothing, about the nature and dignity of women.

    A reality show would be absolutely abominable.

  27. gmarie says:

    I am a student at JP Catholic and while I am not entirely at ease with the voting aspect of this scripted “reality” show, I can attest to the sincerity of the pro-life intentions and the desire to “impact the culture for Christ” of Dominic Iocco, Chris Riley and the university.

  28. gmarie: Whatever they’re doing here, whether it be for good intentions, or ratings, or whatever…this is just insane.
    I’m sorry.
    I don’t understand it at all; I’ve read all the background material, et. al.
    You can’t put up the life of the unborn for a vote; and the women need to be supported no matter how difficult the situation; life is God’s gift; we can’t put it up for a vote. Call me naive, or old-fashioned, or out of the circle (I am middle-aged and live a monastic life), but really, is this the best they can do?

  29. bdchatfi says:

    Our morality is already put to a vote by only 9 people in our Supreme Justice Court. Abortion became legal because of a vote. So did the illegalization (and re-legalization) of alcohol. Just reacently in the state of Maine right of marriage between man and woman was maintained by a majority vote (of course if it had been the discison of the State Legislature who knows what would have happened). It appears that the producer for this show wants to prove in this high risk venture that a majority of people who watch this show think that abortion is wrong. All that this producer has done is to take the premise of RPG (role-playing games) to a wider audiance to see what the people will chose. RPGs require all the time (especially in ones made by Bioware) for the player to make a moral choice in a fictional universe. This venture is risky because it realies on the people to make the right choice. Personally I applaude the show’s courage and am interested to see how it will turn out.

  30. ryder says:

    An e-mail went out to all alumni of Christendom College to be sure to check this out. Message was from the son of one of the first professors at the college (and former head of the philosophy department). The alumnus is getting his MBA at JPCU. I know him personally and know him to be a soundly orthodox young father.

    When I visited the website, I noticed that one of the directors of the show is Maggie Mahrt. She is on-camera towards the beginning of the first episode. Maggie originated the role of St. Therese in the Leonardo Defilippis-produced one-woman drama. (N.B. She played Therese on stage, but was not in the film production. You can see Maggie in the video clip on this page: http://www.stlukeproductions.com/dramas/therese.php ) Being from Portland, I have met Maggie numerous times and likewise find it impossible to believe that anything she is involved in would be harmful to the pro-life cause.

    I suspect, rather, that this group is trying to co-opt secular pro-abortion tactics by disarming those who might resist a more direct approach. By using ambiguous language and making it appear that they are part of the relativist society in which we live, they hope to attract those who might not otherwise hear what they have to say. And this is exactly why Fr. Z and others are so uneasy. It is a dangerous game to play, but so is going undercover in an ACORN office. So is going undercover in a Planned Parenthood. As I said to my wife after watching a recent interview with Lila Rose, God bless these young people who are willing to take the fight to the pro-abortion side. The danger, of course, is in the fact that they must do this without compromising their own integrity in the process. I agree with those who suggest that we give the filmmakers a chance to try to change some hearts and minds with this effort. It is no coincidence, I believe, that the first episode was released on January 22. Let’s see what good might come of this.

  31. Mariana says:

    “Sick.” (Comment by Dave N.)


  32. Melody Faith says:

    Think of it this way- the producers might allow the audience some particular choices in the storyline, but if faithful Catholics are behind it, they may have already determined each of the possible outcomes. If the audience chooses abortion- the awfulness of that choice can be fully exposed. Who has been better and more effective in the pro-choice fight (in reaching those on the fence or from a secular background) than those who have been through it and regret it? Remember, this is fiction, but truth can be shown through it.

  33. gmarie says:

    Ryder: I think you are right on the mark.

    You know, reading through all the PR on this show, I can’t find ANYTHING that says that viewers will choose the outcome of unintended pregnancies but rather they will choose the outcome of women with unintended pregnancies .

    Perhaps the vagueness is intentional to open up dialogue with the staunchly pro-choice, because, as we know, many pro-choice people aren’t interested in honestly listening to the truth of the culture of life.

    At any rate, I encourage anyone who has serious qualms about this show to go directly to the source (JP Catholic/Yellow Line Studios) with your questions and concerns instead of pre-supposing and pre-judging the intent of its contributors.

  34. Student says:

    I’m also a student at JP Catholic. Just to clarify, no votes are going to be tallied to determine the outcome of the show, as some commenters here seem to believe, so you can stop with the over-dramatic Colosseum analogies. The producers are simply asking viewers to share their story, as if these women were sisters or friends considering abortions. If a loved one was faced with an unplanned pregnancy, you wouldn’t just hit them with a bunch of dry statistics—you’d have a conversation with them. That’s what I think Bump is about. Promoting conversation rather than debate.

    Fr Z is right, there is a place for debate; and I disagree with the description on the Bump website that says debate and rhetoric have “failed”…they just haven’t been 100% successful yet. But you also have to acknowledge that story can be just as powerful, if not more powerful, than rhetoric. Were there not also stories, poems, and other forms of art developed to deal with the civil rights issues back in the 60s?

    The fact is that women today DO have a choice. We can’t pretend they don’t. So let’s engage in conversation in addition to the important debates we’re already a part of.

  35. mharold says:

    From what I’ve seen, your discomfort with its basic premise has been shared this past weekend by most Catholics on the blogosphere. Before condemning it, we should ask the fundamental question: will this build the culture of life or tear it down? Many have dismissed it outright without reflecting much on that question, though I’m glad bloggers like Lisa Hendley are taking the time to take a good hard look at it. This is a great opportunity to debate and reflect on our current strategy in the culture wars.

    I believe there’s huge opportunity I think to win young liberal-leaning women, who march the party line on abortion without ever having thought seriously about the moral weight of the question, to the cause of life. We need to focus our attention on challenge of communication. How do we gain their attention? How do we get them to reflect? Young liberals are open to the message of life, but how do we communicate with them?

    As abhorrent as the relativism underlying Saul Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals is, he has an excellent chapter on communication. ACORN activists never use their liberal buzz words when trying to win the support blue-collar workers. Communication breaks down when we speak outside of the experience of the people we’re trying to communicate with.

    Are young liberal-leaning women going to be won through Walk for Life rallies? Will they be won by the antics of Randal Terry and his trucks that feature graphic pictures of aborted featuses? As abhorrent as the reality-style premise may be, I think it is effective in engaging young people, being young myself. Dramatic entertainment draws us in, and the empathy that builds when we’re identifying with the characters forces us to drop our ideological barriers. Entertainment is one of our most effective weapons in the culture wars, and I’d like to see a debate amongst Catholics about the best way to use it. I’m not convinced a message movie, which seems to be what many Catholics want BUMP+ to be, is the best way to utilize it’s power of media to build a culture of life.

    I urge you and your readers to watch Mike Huckabee debate with John Stewart: http://bit.ly/6FO6eZ. He backs Stewart into a corner and forces him to admit that he is really uncomfortable with abortion. Study how Huckabee argues– he always argues within the experience of the people he’s trying to win over. He doesn’t scream “sanctity of life” but argues on the basis of equality. Huckabee wins this argument and we should all study the implications of it.

    I’d love to start a dialogue on this, and on whether BUMP+ accomplishes this. Will the show attract and move young liberal-leaning women, or will it strengthen the entrenched relativism as Mary Hasson’s insightful critique suggested on Phases of Womenhood blog?

  36. pamo56 says:

    ryder and mharold, Thank you! Everyone PLEASE read their comments… the most sensible and intelligent remarks I have found in all the blogs about bumptheshow.

  37. pamo56 says:

    ryder and mharold, can you place your comments on the bumptheshow site? I think they would be really helpful. Thanks.

  38. Pippin says:

    So, this is interesting. They put this bit on their website today:

    Yellow Line Studios is the independent owner and producer of BUMP+. We acquired the script from a former student at John Paul Catholic University, and benefited from the input of people from that community during development and production. Creatively speaking, though, it’s a collaboration of a group of artists from different faith traditions and viewpoints, financed by Yellow Line investors.

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