Reel Reviews | Fatherhood

by Aramide A. Tinubu | special from NBC / Think

Netflix’s new dramatic comedy “Fatherhood,” based on Matt Logelin’s memoir, follows Matt, played by comedian Kevin Hart, a soon-to-be father who isn’t quite taking the impending birth of his daughter seriously enough.

Though an emergency C-section upends his plans for a night out with the guys, both Matt and his wife, Liz (Deborah Ayorinde, of Them), who had health concerns during the pregnancy, are delighted with their newborn baby, Maddy.

However, shortly after giving birth, Liz dies suddenly of a pulmonary embolism, leaving a reeling Matt to try and deal with his grief and a brand-new baby on his own.

While, like the majority of Hart’s films, Fatherhood leans into a comedic tone even though the memoir is more sentimental, the casting decisions widen the story’s perspective about the experiences of birth, maternal mortality, and single parenting.

For instance, though the real-life Logelins are white, casting Hart and Ayorinde in the roles of Matt and Liz highlights the horrific rate of Black maternal mortality in the United States. Tennis star Serena Williams, to take one recent high-profile case, has been very open about her experience giving birth via C-section, having a pulmonary embolism — a condition with which she already had a medical history — and yet still having difficulty convincing doctors there was something seriously wrong with her.

A movie like “Fatherhood” can perhaps at least contribute to this growing awareness around Black maternal mortality and the calls for change.

Despite technological and medical advances, it is still more dangerous for a Black woman — no matter her age, health, or socioeconomic background — to give birth in the United States than many other places in the world, and the rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. has actually gone up in the last 20 years.

While the surviving loved ones of Black women who died in childbirth have begun routinely speaking out about and leading protests against the lack of care the women experienced while giving birth, little appears to have changed. A movie like “Fatherhood” can perhaps at least contribute to this growing awareness and these calls for change.

Further, while our perceptions of parenting and child-rearing have changed drastically in the new millennium, giving us all kinds of tools, books, and theories about the best ways to be an involved parent of any gender, we’ve learned during the pandemic — with articles about overworked mothers and women who’ve had to give up their careers to raise and teach their children at home — our society still thrusts the bulk of parenting onto women.

To read the rest of the review, please click HERE.