True Detective is full of dark themes, including infertility, both real and metaphorical. Some people may be upset by what Jordan Semyon (Kelly Reilly) believes to be the cause of her own infertility, so we took a closer look.
True Detective Season 2 is about three detectives, played by Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch, trying to solve the murder of Ben Caspere. Also trying to solve the murder and get his $5 million back is Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) and his wife, Jordan (Reilly).
Jordan loves Frank and is dead set on having a baby. Sadly, she hasn’t been able to conceive, and efforts to collect Frank’s sperm sample at the fertility clinic didn’t exactly work out.
In episode five, titled “Other Lives,” Jordan tells Frank she believes the reason she can’t get pregnant is because of the three “operations” she’d had previously. If we read between the lines, an “operation” is most likely a polite way to say an abortion. This comment made women respond on Twitter:
Holy misogyny, True Detective! Uh, no, abortion does not cause infertility. Not even three abortions. It's really, really safe.
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) July 20, 2015
Apparently, a similar outrage appeared on Twitter when Mad Men‘s Joan (Christina Hendricks) made a similar remark about not wanting to have a third abortion because it may inhibit her chances to conceive later on.
According to Jezebel, “We talked to the experts, and the short answer is: a third abortion could have affected Joan’s future fertility in 1965, but it most likely would not today.”
The reason? Back in 1965, doctors used a sharp curettage to perform the procedure, whereas now, they use a much safer suction or vacuum method. According to the Guttmacher Institute, studies have shown that for women who’ve had multiple suction curettage abortions, “the risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery or midtrimester spontaneous abortion in a pregnancy following [suction curretage] is not significantly higher than the risk of adverse outcomes of a first pregnancy carried to term.”
So the answer is, there’s no connection between multiple abortions and infertility. But the show True Detective isn’t actually suggesting there is. This is the character Jordan’s desperate attempt to make sense of why she can’t get pregnant. Her doctor didn’t tell her this; it’s simply a guess that has no merit.
Then we found this tweet:
#TrueDetective is so good this season but I REALLY wish they'd drop the fertility storyline. It slows the pace of the show down. 🙁
— ✨ (@takia786) July 20, 2015
But what many women on Twitter may not thoroughly understand is that the “fertility story line” is a metaphor for what’s happening on the entire show. Not only is Frank unable to make a baby, but his business ventures have all dissolved. Bezzerides has been removed from her regular police work because of her “sexual harassment” charges, and Woodrugh is about to enter a sham marriage where he certainly won’t grow and thrive. The fictional city of Vinci is also “infertile” because of its pollution and corruption.
So what will it take for the noir Los Angeles to become fertile again? The bad guys will need to be brought to justice, and each of the lead characters will need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and admit to themselves who they really are.
True Detective airs on Sunday nights on HBO.