Interesting nature-nurture debate gets lost a bit in MTV reality show's 'journey'
Consider it one of those accidents, happy or otherwise, that MTV’s “Generation Cryo” — about a 17-year-old girl seeking her 15 half-siblings sired by a sperm donor — happens to arrive around the same time as “Delivery Man,” a Vince Vaughn comedy about a guy who discovers he’s responsible for hundreds of progeny via a fertility clinic. Yet if the MTV show touches on some serious and thoughtful issues, including the age-old question about nature vs. nurture, as well as what really constitutes fatherhood in this context, it gets there in a semi-trite, “This journey is gonna change my life forever” way.
Perhaps that’s because the show has to go through various contortions to extend the “journey” of Breeanna, raised her first few years by a lesbian couple, beyond simply visiting the Donor Sibling Registry and seeing whether her sperm donor, the faceless No. 1096, has any interest in meeting her.
So she travels the country, interacting with other products of the same medicine cup, only some of whom want to know any more about the guy whose DNA they possess but who had nothing to do with actually raising them.
The parents are considerably more interesting than the kids, such as the dad of Jonah and Hilit, who clearly finds it hurtful to be reminded he was unable to procreate through natural means. Others are more sanguine about the process, understanding the kids’ curiosity.
Nevertheless, because this is MTV, the focus is inevitably going to be on the teenagers, so the parents are lucky to be given more voice than their counterparts in an old Charlie Brown cartoon.
With its exploration of identity and understated tone, “Generation Cryo” falls within the same general category as “Catfish,” one of MTV’s more intriguing properties — and it’s a welcome respite from some of the network’s noisier fare. The main problem here is that even when they’re not being whiny, the kids (beginning with Breeanna, our ostensible tour guide) simply aren’t articulate enough to trigger a genuine discussion about the sometimes-thorny issues surrounding procreation via test tube or the nature of being “a sperm donor kid.”
Indeed, after two of the six episodes, Breeanna doesn’t appear close to the press release claim that the series “redefines what it means to be a modern family.” But let’s hope before it’s done, some parent possesses the gumption to say, “No. 1096 didn’t rush you to the emergency room or stay up with you all night. So while I appreciate your quest for identity, kid, get over it.”
TV Review: 'Generation Cryo'
(Series; MTV, Mon. Nov. 25, 10 p.m.)
Produced by Off the Fence.
Executive producers, Michael Lang, Ellen Windemuth; supervising producers, Rob Schwarze, Dave Wadsworth. 60 MIN.