Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson in The Kids Are All Right.

Are the kids all right?

Questions about donor conception

The film The Kids Are All Right offers a bittersweet portrayal of changes that sweep through a family after two teenagers, the children of a lesbian couple, meet the sperm donor who is their biological father. The donor begins to win their hearts, and he is about to claim some kind of role in the family until he has an affair with one of their mothers.

Two moments in the film point to important questions about the nature of family. In one scene, the teenage daughter expresses her frustration at having to do everything "right." She is a straight-As, all around good kid, and she reveals that she has maintained this flawless image so that her mother can show the world her "perfect lesbian family." Those last three words are delivered with such vitriol that both mother and daughter are devastated by their implications. As the family has struggled to keep up appearances, they may have lost sight of unconditional love.

In the second incident, the sperm donor is kicked out of the house, with one of the mothers delivering this judgment: he is nothing but an "interloper" in their lives.

If we are to believe, as the film asks us to believe, that the kids are all right, then we also have to agree with this judgment.


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