New Babies on Sitcoms That Somehow Managed Not to Ruin the Whole Show
The birth of a child is an absolutely wonderful experience, unless, of course, it happens on a sitcom, where it’s usually a sign that the writers are running out of ideas. Roseanne, Mad About You, Growing Pains and Friends are just a few examples of shows where some newborn little creep fouled up the show’s chemistry. But there have been some sitcoms that have made it work. Here are six of them…
Jamie, ‘Malcolm in the Middle’
While Malcolm in the Middle’s most beloved seasons are the first few, when baby Jamie arrived at the end of Season Four it reinvigorated the show. By making it about the stress of parenting, as opposed to the adorable hijinks of some cute new kid, Hal and Lois got some fresh material that helped Malcolm in the Middle reach seven seasons.
Little Ricky, ‘I Love Lucy’
Hiding a real-life pregnancy has always been common practice on TV, even back in the 1950s, but when Lucille Ball was pregnant during the second season of I Love Lucy, she and Desi Arnaz decided to make it part of the show instead. Little Ricky Ricardo was born halfway through that season and plenty of classic episodes occurred after that point in the show.
Joey, ‘All in the Family’
I made a point not to include babies that weren’t central to the shows on this list — like Freddy on Cheers, for example — but baby Joey Stivic just makes the cut. By introducing a new child on All in the Family in Season Four, it changed the family dynamic without breaking it. Case in point: We get to see another, softer side to Archie Bunker.
Bewitched introduced a baby early in its run. But as opposed to causing the high-concept show to jump the shark, it expanded the premise by having fun with a baby exploring its abilities as a witch. If only Friends could have given baby Emma magical powers, then it would have worked.
Avery, ‘Murphy Brown’
Some argue that the introduction of baby Avery at the end of Season Four changed the direction of Murphy Brown from a workplace show to a show about a single mother, but history has proven that it was for the benefit of the series’ legacy. Not only did Murphy Brown last 10 seasons — plus a one-season reboot in 2018 — but the story of Murphy Brown deciding whether or not to have an abortion represents the show’s most significant contribution to TV history.
The Dumpster Baby, ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’
Leave it to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to do exactly what every other sitcom should do with a baby: find it in a dumpster, have some laughs, then have child services take the baby away before the main characters paint blackface all over it and hack it up with a sword.