Surrogacy Film Review: Together Together (2021)
Together Together is a 2021 film that explores a unique relationship between a single intended father and his gestational surrogate, a pairing that would not exist before legalization of surrogacy in California in 1993. The film is a realistic, lighthearted comedy that tries something new by not being a cheesy thriller or absurdist comedy.
Matt, played by Ed Helms, is 40-something and single after a long-term relationship, and now wants a baby as his next stage in life. Anna, played by Patti Harrison, is 26, and her past experience with pregnancy was a baby she placed for adoption. She decided to sign up with an agency as a surrogate candidate to pay for college.
The movie is in three parts, covering the first, second and third trimester of Anna’s pregnancy. Anna and Matt have varying degrees of contact during the pregnancy. From meeting for medical appointments, to Anna helping decorate the nursery, sleeping over at Matt’s house, shopping and eating together, and attending his baby shower, to going back to less contact but then attending birthing classes together, and Anna staying with Matt as she goes into labor and Matt attending the delivery.
What’s Realistic About the Film
The makers of the film apparently consulted with surrogacy agencies and did research into the surrogacy process to try to be accurate.
The movie captures the match meeting and the support group meetings as well as the challenges both surrogates and intended parents have in telling (or not telling) friends or family about the surrogacy, as well as friends or family having reactions which might be insensitive or ignorant. The bond between Matt and Anna from their shared experience is unique to surrogacy, though their relationship is not one that is likely to happen in real life.
What’s Not Realistic
Anna is less than ideal for a surrogate candidate. She was portrayed as a loner, without family support. She does not have a child of her own, though she has experience having a child. It would be unlikely, that even if she was approved, that an agency would suggest a match with Matt, who is also single and local to Anna. While there is counseling and support for Anna, the level of contact Matt has in Anna’s life would raise alarm bells for agencies. As Anna’s pregnancy progresses, Matt becomes weirdly controlling about her diet and sex life. He also asks her to stay at his place so he can be more aware of her pregnancy progress.
Of course, there wouldn’t be much comedy in the way of misunderstandings between the two or from everyone else if their relationship was realistic.
Are Lawyers Involved?
There are no lawyers in the movie. However, Matt and Anna do go over the surrogacy agreement with the agency representative (owner/counselor?) to determine whether Anna’s sexual activity is prohibited by the contract. They read an accurate list of dangerous activities that would appear in a real surrogacy contract but find no prohibition of sex. (Note that some intended parents will request restrictions on sex, though usually just before the pregnancy is confirmed.) In reality, the surrogacy contract is an important legal document between the parties that will go over the parties’ rights and obligations.
There is also a scene where Matt doesn’t know where to be during a vaginal ultrasound. If the contract was drafted by us, it would likely have told him to respect her modesty (which he doesn’t at the birth—so perhaps this is not in their contract).
There’s not really a need for a lawyer to help the main characters during the film, though we winced when they started having sleepovers and basically living together, as we would advise clients against this practice. Anna also refers to being a surrogate as her work and we would point out that there is no employer-employee relationship between the parties.
Better than most. No legal inaccuracies found.
Together Together is a funny film about surrogates that doesn’t really get too deep or complex. Intended parents like Matt are not uncommon in surrogacy, single men or women who decide they don’t need to wait for a partner to have a baby, so this is a first to tell the story from his perspective. It’s also a positive that the movie doesn’t end up with the predictable trope of the surrogate and intended parent falling in love like many movies about richer older men and the hardscrabble single contractors that contract with them.
Verdict: Worth streaming for anyone interested in surrogacy. Currently available on Hulu to stream.
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