Despite all the niche topics web video has explored since its inception, I thought we’d have a little longer before the arrival of a scripted show revolving around abortion. But, with a release timed around the 37th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade court decision that made abortion legal in the United States, here comes Bump+, a mostly-dramatic fauxumentary chronicling three women currently in the first trimester of their unplanned pregnancies, who by the end of the series will have decided whether or not to abort.
The first production by Yellow Line Studio, Bump+ sports solid production values for its budget of a few thousand dollars — especially a very authentic doctor’s office set that was constructed on a soundstage — and an intriguing cast who help to make the show relatively compelling. It’s the (fictional) stories of these women who really drive the show — according to Yellow Line Director of Creative Development Chris Riley, the creators don’t intend to take a political view on the issue, instead focusing on the characters as they struggle to decide whether or not they’ll stay pregnant.
The show’s biggest flaw is the overly-meta inclusion of the reality series framework, which leads to plot points in the first episode like Hailey Kirsch (Lyndsey Doolen) hoping that being involved with the show will make them famous, which only clouds the perception of whether or not the series is fictional. Tone also, at times, fluctuates a bit too dramatically — Denise Jensen (Isabelle Giroux), described as a “free-spirited mother of two,” is possibly the strongest comedic creation, but the show veers wildly in the opposite direction with the introduction of Katie Donahue (Tina Schlapprizzi), a military wife who faces a very real predicament and seeks serious console as she looks toward her upcoming decision.
However, Bump+ has definitely succeeded in its primary goal, which is to enable a real conversation about the issue of abortion beyond the political and religious drama that dominates the national debate. Despite the first episode only having about 3,220 views on YouTube, there are almost 100 comments on that episode alone. And according to Riley, by moderating the comments and editing out the first posts to resorted to name-calling, the community as a whole responded by seeking to keep the conversation civil. “After that, when people would throw a firebomb, other commenters would attack them, explaining that ‘that’s not what we’re doing here.’ There are a lot of people, from both sides of the spectrum, who want to find common ground,” he said via phone. The forum has thus become a place for women to share their real experiences with abortion, from all sides of the issue.
And that conversation will end up becoming a big part of the show’s outcome, as currently the outcome of the series is not determined, and enough footage was shot over the 12-15 days of production to make multiple outcomes for each storyline possible — whatever happens, the show’s final conclusion will be driven by the feedback received from episode comments. “What I suspect will happen is that at least one woman will choose to keep her baby, one will choose to terminate, and one will do something else entirely,” Riley said. But with 12 more episodes set to air over the next two months, those sorts of tough decisions remain unmade.