The Baby Makers: Representing Commercial Surrogacy in Film and Television

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This essay attempts to define the genre of the surrogacy thriller as a prominent form for recent representations of commercial surrogacy. Placing this genre into a history of film representations of surrogacy and into a wider history of representing women’s work on film, it argues that the genre appears to intervene in debates about gestational labour. On the surface, these films appear to attack both mothers and surrogates alike for their participation in paid employment. However, along with other representations of surrogacy, these films also display a mingling of the language of care with the language of the economy in ways that troubles the easy separation of these two spheres. Potentially, this combination makes possible a critique of gestational labour which would make the nature of women’s work visible and available to resistance. In the form of the thriller this potential seems muted. However, through a reading of James Bridges 1970 film, The Baby Maker, this essay suggests that a space for this critique is possible in the depiction of surrogacy as work which combines both physical and affective labour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-409
JournalWomen: A Cultural Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2024


  • Surrogacy
  • Labour
  • Emotional Labour
  • Social Reproduction
  • Thriller
  • Film
  • Television


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