It’s the baby news heard ’round the world: Kerry Washington is expecting her first child, and while we’re excited for the actress, it leaves fans of Scandal scratching their heads about what Washington’s bump means for Olivia Pope.
Producer Shonda Rimes has remained mum since Washington’s October announcement about whether the pregnancy will be written into the show, but should she choose not to, there’s plenty of past precedent to draw from on how to handle a star’s changing shape, ranging from the subtle to the downright ridiculous.
Sex and the City
It was the ultimate conundrum for the ultimate single gal when Sarah Jessica Parker became pregnant with son James Wilkie ahead of the HBO series’s fifth season in 2002. With no chance of Carrie Bradshaw welcoming a little one, the show chose to accommodate Parker’s growing belly by shortening the season from 13 episodes to eight, and putting their coveted costume department to work. Her wardrobe was custom-designed to feature billowing and empire-waisted pieces.
When a wardrobe change just won’t do, there’s no better alternative than a well-placed prop, as was the case with Julie Bowen during filming of the ABC comedy’s pilot in 2008. Pregnant with twins John and Gustav, the actress did everything from carry a laundry basket in front of her stomach to place a pillow in her lap during seated scenes to mask her double bundles of joy. Notice how she never steps away from behind the kitchen island?
There’s the traditional way to handle a pregnancy, and then there’s The X-Files way. When Gillian Anderson became pregnant during the series’s second season in 1994, the show’s writers had her character abducted by aliens rather than address Scully’s new look. Though the decreased screen time was a drastic choice, Anderson is now grateful her character wasn’t written off entirely. “I thought they were overreacting but now I see it from their perspective,” she told The Telegraph. “I would have been bloody pissed if I had been them and had cast a girl, against my better judgment, who got pregnant after the first season.”
How I Met Your Mother
Only one word comes to mind when describing how the CBS sitcom camouflaged Alyson Hannigan’s first pregnancy: legen–wait for it–dary! The actress’s expanding baby belly was put to use in a 2009 episode that revealed character Lily’s love of hot dog eating competitions. After scarfing down an impressive batch, Hannigan stood up to reveal her “full stomach.”
In what is probably the world’s worst luck, Courteney Cox’s Monica came to terms with her inability to conceive during the show’s tenth and final season in 2003 – just as Cox herself became pregnant with daughter Coco. Borrowing from the Sex and the City playbook, Cox’s wardrobe was altered to mask her burgeoning belly, but to a far less successful effect, with her clothes becoming noticeably baggier and baggier. In comparison, costar Lisa Kudrow was lucky enough to have her pregnancy in 1998 written into the show, when Phoebe served as a surrogate for her brother’s triplets.