Ahead of its debut on Lifetime, Born in the Wild was already making headlines in the US and beyond, but it is more than an attempt to shock viewers, says Eli Lehrer, the female-skewing cable net’s head of non-fiction programming.
“When people see Born in the Wild they will see it is clearly not shock-reality TV, but documents a sub-culture of women and a choice that they are making,” he says.
In seeking to underline Born in the Wild’s documentary credentials, Lifetime is keen to highlight that all of the families involved were not paid to appear, all already had kids and all had already made the choice to give birth outside before joining the project.
Each of the one-hour instalments follows a particular family, checking in with them ahead of the due date to get their back-story and then heading out into the wild to follow the wilderness birth.
The series opens with the most extreme of the wild births: a mother (and trained midwife) giving birth in a remote part of Alaska, two hours away from a hospital.
Another episode follows an Arizona mother of seven – who has self-delivered her last five children – as she has her eighth child. Other locations include Atlanta and the mountains of Utah.
In each case the producers document the story and the family choose the level of midwifery assistance and medical back-up that they want.
A+E is distributing Born in the Wild and will launch the show internationally at MIPTV.
“What intrigued us is that this is about a bigger debate we’re having here in the US and around the world about how to bring children into the world,” says Lehrer. “Some people feel the process has become over-medicated and this choice is a reaction to that, right or wrong. We don’t take a position and approach it in a thoughtful manner.”
THE SHOW: Born in the Wild
THE PRODUCER: Matador
THE DISTRIBUTOR: A+E Networks
THE BROADCASTER: Lifetime (US)
THE CONCEPT: Seven-part series following expectant mothers who choose to give birth in wild, outside locations