Thursday, January 7, 2016

The CW Character's Guide To Handling Secret Baby Crises

In my journey through the CW, I've noticed there’s no plot element the network's various writers’ rooms love more, or use more often, than the Secret Baby.

All but two1 of the CW shows to which I have given my devotion contain at least one male character2 with at least one kid he’s only just learned about. This season alone, there are three newly-introduced Secret Babies on my TV screen and I’ll be less than surprised if more emerge after the holiday hiatus.

You can guess how well the characters are dealing with this.

There’s a reason the writers love Secret Babies so much, and the reason is DRAMA.

Since it’s safe to assume Secret Babies aren’t gonna drop out of the CW’s list of priority plot devices any time soon, I figured I’d write up some guidelines to help these fictional dudes handle such situations going forward. I’m confident that every last one of them will listen to me, because it’s not like they live inside TV shows committed to delivering maximum drama through minimal common sense.

Gif of Oliver Queen telling Felicity Smoak she deserves better.


Listen, I know you're reeling, but do not hold off on this important step. Do not wait three weeks during which you’ll become ever-shiftier as the strain takes its toll on you. Do not let the person you love learn the truth from your Secret Baby's mother, or from a chance-heard snippet of conversation. Be open and honest and emotionally healthy.

No, you don’t get a free pass because the Secret Baby was conceived a hundred and fifty years ago and wasn’t carried to term. You live in a frickin’ CW show and the mom was a witch, so you can’t count that Secret Baby out. They might very well have been searching for you for the last century and a half, unsure of why they never age (spoiler: it’s because magic).

Likewise, I don’t care that you promised your Secret Baby’s mama that you wouldn’t tell anyone, or that some romantically challenged speedster said it looked like the hey-I-have-a-kid conversation didn’t go well in the alternate future he erased by running backwards in time. You think your partner can’t keep your Secret Baby a secret as they help you process this enormous news? You have that little faith in them?

And whatever you do, do not hole up in your fancy Brooklyn loft for months on end without telling anyone you’ve been caring for your Secret Baby alongside a known con artist (to cite an older example). The hell, dude?

Gif of Iris West saying, 'Who's the father, Francine? Is it my dad? Do I have a brother?'

Tell the relevant parents

Not everyone discovers their own Secret Baby. You may find yourself privy to information about a friend or loved one’s previously undisclosed offspring, and you need to tell them immediately.

Yes, they’ll be shocked to learn they’ve got a kid they were never around for. Yes, they'll feel hurt and betrayed. That doesn’t mean you should shield them from this reality for weeks on end while you decide whether or not they can handle it. There’s never a good time to find out about a Secret Baby, and they have every right to know so they can decide what to do next.

Gif of Rogelio de la Vega, dressed as a priest, announcing he has recently acquired a daughter.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communicate with your partner, or your siblings, or your parents. Whoever’s on hand to help you adjust to fatherhood.

Communicate with your Secret Baby’s other parent. It’s gonna be tough, given how they kept the baby a secret for as long as a thousand years, but it’s gotta be done.

Most of all, communicate with your Secret Baby. You think they haven’t wondered about their missing parent for the last ten or twenty or one hundred and fifty years? You think they aren’t tired of the secrets and lies they’ve sensed floating through the air whenever co-parents come up in conversation? Dude. Come on.

(Shout-out to Rogelio de la Vega, who did a decent if somewhat overblown job of communicating with everyone involved in his Secret Baby Crisis throughout the first season of JANE THE VIRGIN. Good for you, Rogelio!)

Okay, Secret Baby daddies of the CW. Go forth and do the right thing. I believe in you3.

  1. THE ORIGINALS effectively killed all hope of this plot line when it prioritized male vampire characters over male human characters, but it is a CW show so it’s entirely possible we’ll someday discover that Marcel fathered a couple of Secret Babies before he became a vampire. Perhaps Elijah’s Secret Baby’s descendants have been searching for him down through the centuries. Or hey, maybe Vincent’s got a kid running around somewhere. All things are possible on the CW.

    Likewise, one assumes THE 100 will someday deliver a multi-episode arc in which Octavia’s so-far-unrevealed father realizes she’s his Secret Baby and tries to forge some sort of relationship with her, probably after a lot of hurtful shouting on both sides.

  2. So far, all the CW Secret Baby parents of whom I’m aware have been dudes. Barring, of course, the women who kept the babies secret in the first place but did, in fact, recognize their existence.
  3. This is a blatant lie designed to give you confidence as you move into your Secret Baby Crisis. I actually think you’re gonna fuck it all up, because I’m a diehard CWite and this ain’t my first Secret Baby rodeo.

    (Not you, Rogelio. You’re doing just fine. Gold star for you.)


  1. I actually just caught up with Flash last night. I'm wondering what the point of this particular secret baby was/is.

    1. I think it's partly an attempt to bring in another character from the comics and partly the CW's deeply held belief that every single show requires at least one Secret Baby in order to function properly.

  2. This is terrific work. Really, really important. Thank you, as ever, Memory.

    1. I strive to provide quality CW scholarship.

  3. I feel so well prepared for the day I finally decide go have a Secret Baby.