Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the Anti-Choice Drama “Sarah’s Choice”
There was a sad article in Salon this week about how the savvy video store clerk is becoming an endangered species, replaced by algorithmic recommendations developed by companies like Netflix and Amazon. This article is depressing on a personal level, because I spent some formative years behind the counter of a video store, but also depressing because Netflix recommendations are FAR from accurate.
How do I know this? Because a movie called Sarah’s Choice ended up as one of my Netflix recommendations at some point. Now, due to the amount of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine I watch, I’ve always assumed that Netflix thinks I’m a gay man with a crush on Dr. Bashir (which isn’t too far off from the truth). But somehow this anti-choice abortion drama slipped through the cracks.
A properly-trained video store clerk would never have let this happen. And more importantly, they would have never let me watch it, even for comedy purposes. Alas, I am alone. So let’s do this.
Meet Sarah, who is so broke that her landlord is constantly leaving her notes about the rent being due, and drives a POS car. She’s also (in the first five minutes) throwing up in the bathroom! In the MORNING. OH NO WHAT COULD THAT MEAN?
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, it’s to the office we go, because Sarah is up for a fancy promotion — a promotion available because the original lady in charge of this account is pregnant, a fact that the bosses are TOTAL DICKS about. “She’s been running up our insurance costs trying to get pregnant!” says one of the guys. Of course she has. Just to be clear, Frank, it’d be bad for Sarah’s career if she suddenly found herself pregnant. WHOOPS!
By the way, the lady playing Sarah has the weirdest voice, — like she’s Australian, maybe, or from a part of Canada where they only speak Moose? She talks like a congested robot from another land, is what I’m saying. It starts off annoying and gets worse from there.
Now we’re in a different office, where people have fun racing desk chairs? Oh, this is the workplace of the guy we find out in a few minutes is Sarah’s boyfriend. He talks with his uncle, who’s complaining about how much it sucks to be the father of many children. For a movie that is going to teach us the evils of abortion, it sure seems to hate pregnancy.
Anyways, Sarah and her boyfriend go out to a nice dinner to celebrate her maybe getting a promotion and raise, and also talk about how he’s terrible at business things. For the record, in the Netflix description of this movie it’s said that Sarah is single, which is clearly only true to people who wait for their wedding night (i.e. this movie’s target audience). If Sarah were ACTUALLY single, and the pregnancy was due to a one-night stand, there’s a small chance that this movie would offer a genuinely complicated moral dilemma, but the boyfriend actually seems pretty nice and so things are clearly gonna be fine but WHOOPS spoilers.
Then they go to church to make Sarah’s mom happy. Sarah’s mom also inexplicably talks like she comes from the land of the Australian moose people, which is at least vaguely consistent, though her sister is pretty American because fuck this movie.
Oh, at church, some random lady is pregnant and Sarah asks if the lady got married. She didn’t! Sarah gloats about how Random Lady’s not such a goody two shoes — her mom responds “at least she’s not living in sin with her boyfriend.” Um, first off, Sarah’s boyfriend DOESN’T LIVE WITH HER, second off, really? Being pregnant out of wedlock is better than your boyfriend occasionally sleeping over? WHAT IS THIS MOVIE?
Also, this movie is only an hour and a half and we are twenty minutes into it and OH MY GOD can we get to the slut-shaming about abortion already?
Well, here’s a step in the right direction — when Sarah shows up at work saying she “feels weird,” Sarah’s bitchy blonde work friend happens to have a pregnancy test (or what they say is a pregnancy test — it looks like a stick of gum). Whoopsie daisy someone’s knocked up! Which is bad, we’re reminded, because Sarah’s bosses don’t want to give the fancy new job Sarah is up for to a pregnant lady.
And in case the message that being pregnant is bad wasn’t totally clear, it’s off to Sarah’s doctor we go! The doc confirms that Sarah’s up pregnancy creek, and Sarah says over and over again that she can’t have an abortion because of Jesus. But the doctor, the doctor is like “oh, the Bible is just a book full of wonderful stories and the first year of having a kid costs $16,000 so abort the damn thing already.” Way to present a balanced viewpoint, movie.
As Sarah contemplates the words of her abortion-happy doctor, an older lady shows up in an elevator and tells her that the Lord will be sending her three visions about how she totally shouldn’t abort her baby. OH GOOD, a Dickens pastiche! It really is Christmas. Oh, Frank, that lady is going to be IMPORTANT later. Just you wait.
Sarah’s bitchy blonde work friend (SBBWF going forward) is totally in favor of Sarah abortin’, because, we discover, SBBWF had an abortion when she was 16 and she wants Sarah to join the club. SBBWF didn’t want to have an abortion, she says, but her mom made her, and now apparently her old boyfriend is a pizza delivery boy, “so this story has a happy ending.” Frank, if you suspect that this movie is going way over the top with its pro-abortion message right now so that the ending will be the most dramatic reversal possible, you might just be right.
It’s time for Sarah to tell her boyfriend, who I have been liking but is a total moron, and the conversation doesn’t go so well. “You either give me a wedding ring or a ride to the clinic,” is Sarah’s conclusion, and no ring is forthcoming, so she goes home.
And then she dreams! I guess this is the first vision, which basically consists of Sarah’s mom babysitting for Sarah and then Sarah having to change a diaper and it’s not the worst thing ever? GOOD VISION.
The next day, there’s more talk about the Conex account and how the bosses won’t give it to another pregnant lady. Holy shit THERE ARE LAWS, YOU ASSHOLES, JUST BECAUSE OF THIS. This movie takes place in an alternate universe without those laws, I guess. What a fun alternate universe! #thisisthedarkesttimeline
Okay, Sarah’s sister just mentioned that those laws exist. Oh good! Nothing makes sense, including the part where Sarah and her sister are discussing Sarah’s impending abortion at a family tree-trimming party, where conveniently Sarah’s mom is able to overhear. There’s a bunch of shouting and Sarah leaves the party leaning towards Team Abortion, but when she calls to book the appointment she can’t go through with it.
It’s time for Sarah’s second vision dream thingy! Now her baby is a slightly older baby who knows how to thank Jesus for their food. And they go sledding! How heartwarming.
Then Sarah’s mom and sister talk about how they should pray that Sarah doesn’t get an abortion but they will love her just as much if she gets an abortion which is a fucking LIE, you horrible people, I know you are fictional characters but you are also clearly LIARS who will spend the rest of your lives shunning your family member for making a decision you don’t agree with. Ugh. They’re the worst.
Wait, no, someone just topped them! One of Sarah’s bosses, a lady, has just found out that Sarah is pregnant and is telling her to abort the baby. “It’s women like [that pregnant lady from the beginning] who make it harder for us to break through the glass ceiling,” this woman says, because– Actually, no. I have nothing. I have no understanding of why this woman would say this thing. This movie, man. This movie.
Oh, and here’s a scene where Sarah encounters a group of ladies “who made bad choices” releasing balloons into heaven to apologize to the babies they aborted. HOLY SHIT THIS MOVIE.
Time for Sarah’s third dream-vision-thing, in which an aged Sarah sees her grown-up baby who has had her own baby, and she and future boyfriend say “they made the right choice!” Everything is so happy and lovely…
And then things get DARK, and we enter an ALTERNATE VISION! Normal-aged Sarah wanders around an old folks home, where she encounters the old lady who told her about the visions. Oh, but get this! Frank, this is incredible! The old lady? She is SARAH’S FUTURE SELF, who DID have the abortion I guess, because she has no one to visit her on Christmas Eve.
For the record, Sarah in the present has brown hair and brown eyes, and Grandma Sarah in that vision we JUST SAW has brown hair with grey streaks and brown eyes, but this alternate future Sarah has light-colored hair and BLUE EYES instead of brown. I guess this is one of the side effects of abortion no one ever tells you about? Alternate Future Sarah doesn’t have the weird Australian Moose accent, though, so it’s not all bad.
Alternate Future Sarah tells Sarah that these dreams were sent by God and that she’s been given “an opportunity to see things from a divine perspective blah diddy blah.” And that works! When Sarah wakes up, she tells her bosses that she’s keeping her baby, then comes home and cries to Jesus about how she doesn’t know how to be a mother but she’ll figure it out. “Thank you for saving my baby,” she cry-sobs. It is super-uncomfortable.
But lest you fear that this is going to become the adventures of Sarah, Single Mother, never fear! Sarah’s boyfriend shows up and proposes with the super-sexy line “I’m gonna do the best I can for you with God’s help.” And to celebrate they go to Christmas services at the church where Dick Van Patten is preaching! How marvelous.
Think that’s the end, Frank? NOPE! Nope, the real ending is this: SBBWF is ALSO at church with the gang, and at the very end she writes a letter to her unborn baby telling her that she’ll see him in Heaven (ladies who have abortions get to go to Heaven? Movie, I’m pretty sure you don’t really believe that’s true). And then she attaches the letter to a balloon, which then takes to the skies, from which it will eventually fall into the ocean and kill a sea turtle who eats it thinking it’s a delicious blue-tinted jellyfish.
In case it’s not clear, Frank, if this movie came to my attention via some sort of divine intervention, then God’s mission pretty much failed. Jesus, here’s a tip for you: If you’re looking to speak to me through my Netflix queue, you’ll probably have more luck smiting away Sports Night. (Even though I have the DVDs as backup.)