Beth Behrs & ‘The Neighborhood’ Boss Talk Gemma’s Grieving Process
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Neighborhood, Season 4, Episode 4, “Welcome to the Porch Pirate.”]
The event triggered several conversations between the Johnsons and the Butlers as they deal with grief in their own unique ways. Despite the episode’s somber tone, there’s plenty of healing going on thanks to the support these neighbors show each other.
So, what inspired the serious subject matter? Showrunner and episode writer Meg DeLoatch brought the idea to the table following her own experience with miscarriage. “There’s a little bit of a luxury for me now talking about it because I have a child who’s about to turn eight, but [I remember] going through a miscarriage and just how low and heartbroken I was,” DeLoatch shares. “I really have no issue talking about the subject because what was hard about it was it felt like it was supposed to be private.”
Behrs echoes this sentiment as she hopes viewers walk away with more understanding for the grieving process surrounding miscarriage. “I feel like miscarriage and women’s reproductive struggles, in general, are rarely explored on television,” Behrs says. “Especially in a half-hour multi-camera comedy. But this is an issue millions have endured and many have stayed silent in their grief. I hope this gives them permission to fully grieve and also lets them know they’re not alone in their pain.”
One of the more emotional moments in the episode happens between Gemma and Calvin (Cedric the Entertainer). When Tina (Tichina Arnold) learns of the news, she goes to comfort Gemma and Dave (Max Greenfield) and opens up about her own miscarriage in the past.
Calvin clearly has had a tough time facing the loss as he tries to bottle up his emotions, but talking with Gemma opens the floodgates. “Calvin and Gemma hold that space for each other,” Behrs says of the characters letting each other know they’re not alone in their pain. “I hope we are able to hold that for our audience.”
Part of the episode’s impact comes from the varying forms of grief, “men are affected by miscarriage too,” DeLoatch notes. In that candid moment between Calvin and Gemma, he’s able to see her denial and recognize it in himself. “Sometimes it’s easier not to confront his feelings, but to recognize that [in Gemma] and knowing that’s how he deals with things… he literally says, ‘I don’t want that for you.’ In saying that he’s allowing himself to go where he doesn’t like to go,” she adds.
“I just think it’s beautiful in so many ways, but also important to remind society as a whole, miscarriage happens,” says DeLoatch who broached the idea for the episode with Behrs before finalizing the story.
“Meg had called me this summer and told me she was planning on Gemma having a miscarriage and she beautifully relayed to me her own struggles with fertility,” shares Behrs. “I was fully on board from the moment she told me. I have had so many friends go through losing a child, and how all-consuming the grief can be. I was so honored to be a part of telling this story and I hope it makes anyone who’s been through it feel supported and a little bit less alone.”
“Even when we’re dealing with some more serious subjects, I think that it’s nice that we’re providing a platform where hopefully some people will find some healing or even just a sense of feeling seen and understood,” DeLoatch notes of the episode’s hopeful impact.
“The rest of the episode walks the line between humor and drama beautifully, thanks to Meg’s writing,” Behrs remarks. We couldn’t agree more.
The Neighborhood, Season 4, 8/7c, CBS