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How 20 Stars Hid Their Real-Life Pregnancies on TV
As Keri Russell navigates her pregnancy while filming The Americans, look back at how other TV shows have hidden leading ladies' pregnancies on the small screen.
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Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans
Keri Russell started filming the fourth season of The Americans after announcing that she was pregnant. The drama has concealed her pregnancy with a stack of winter coats and several large salad bowls.
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Lucille Ball as Lucy on I Love Lucy
The I Love Lucy crew wrote Lucille Ball’s pregnancy into the show's second season, but the actress famously couldn’t say the word "pregnant" on air. She spent the story arc skirting around the term with euphemisms like “enceinte,” and the network’s decision to run old Lucy episodes while Ball was on maternity leave helped plant the seed for reruns.
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes on Seinfeld
When Julia Louis-Dreyfus became pregnant during Seinfeld’s third season, the producers hid her stomach behind big boxes and thick coats. They shipped her character off on a trip with her psychotherapist boyfriend while Louis-Dreyfus was giving birth at the beginning of season four.
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Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully on The X-Files
After first covering Gillian Anderson’s season 2 pregnancy with creative camera angles, producers threw the actress an X-Files-worthy plot twist by having her character get abducted by aliens. The decision launched a number of mythology story arcs that continued throughout the series.
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Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders as Lily Aldrin and Robin Scherbatsky on How I Met Your Mother
The How I Met Your Mother producers had double the trouble when both Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders became pregnant during season 4. They turned to the usual amount of trickery — clever angles, loose clothing, large handbags — but also had a bit of fun with the conundrum. Hannigan hid behind an increasingly absurd assemblage of objects before finally exposing her bump during an eating contest, for which she pretended it was a “food baby.”
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Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on Homeland
When Claire Danes showed up expecting for Homeland’s second season, the series’ creators masked her baby bump with a body double, CGI, and precise angles.
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Kristen Bell as Jeannie van der Hooven on <em<House of Lies
On House of Lies, Kristen Bell had to film a season 2 sex scene with Adam Brody while seven months pregnant. The producers relied on deceptive camera angles and CGI to edit out her pregnant belly.
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January Jones as Betty Draper on Mad Men
The Mad Men crew masked January Jones’ season 5 pregnancy as weight gain, which forced Jones to don seven hours of prosthetics for filming each day.
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Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on Scandal
Scandal’s attempts to hide Kerry Washington’s season 3 pregnancy got so out of hand that fans began to track the cover-ups online. They put her behind everything from baggy clothing and big bags to lamps, assorted knickknacks, and even a guard stand.
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Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski as Liz Lemon and Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock
The 30 Rock producers worked around both Jane Krakowski and Tina Fey’s season 5 and 6 pregnancies, respectively, famously claiming, “no child should have [Krakowski’s] Jenna Maroney as a mother.” However, true to 30 Rock’s tongue-in-cheek gags, they later riffed on their decision by placing Elizabeth Bank’s then-pregnant Avery Jessup behind a collection of ridiculous items in season 5’s “Christmas Attack Zone.”
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Jane Leeves as Daphne Moon on Frasier
Rather than try to hide Jane Leeves’ seventh season pregnancy, Frasier passed it off as stress-induced weight gain from her character’s relationship with Niles (David Hyde Pierce).
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Courteney Cox as Monica Geller on Friends
Writing Courteney Cox’s season 10 pregnancy into Friends wasn’t an option, as her character’s inability to get pregnant was a central storyline during the final stretch of the show. Instead, producers simply dressed her in loose clothing and ignored her growing belly until the series wrapped.
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Kelly Rutherford as Lily van der Woodsen on Gossip Girl
Gossip Girl kept it simple when Kelly Rutherford was expecting during season 2, camouflaging her belly with designer scarves, coats, and handbags, plus a countertop or two.
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Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City
Sex and the City disguised Sarah Jessica Parker’s fifth season pregnancy by swapping her character’s stylish attire for a flowy new wardrobe. They cut the season short so she could give birth.
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Ellen Pompeo and Jessica Capshaw as Meredith Grey and Arizona Robbins on Grey’s Anatomy
Oversized scrubs, meticulous angles, and piles of blankets were enough to cover Ellen Pompeo’s expanding midsection during Grey’s Anatomy season 6. When Jessica Capshaw became pregnant the following season, they sent her character to Africa for a few episodes.
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Parminder Nagra as Dr. Neela Rasgotra on ER
To conceal Parminder Nagra’s season 15 pregnancy, ER producers put her in custom-made maternity scrubs and blocked her belly with hospital beds.
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Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin on The Office
Though Angela Kinsey’s Angela Martin later got pregnant on The Office, the character wasn’t quite ready for a newborn when Kinsey was carrying during season 4. Instead, they filmed her frequently behind her desk and high cubicle walls.
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Zooey Deschanel as Jessica Day on New Girl
In one of the sillier pregnancy cover ups, New Girl producers sequestered Zooey Deschanel’s Jessica Day for jury duty during season 5, opening up a guest spot for Megan Fox.
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Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy on Modern Family
Julie Bowen was pregnant with twins while filming Modern Family’s pilot. She spent the episode shielding her belly with cereal boxes and loads of laundry.
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Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation
To sidestep Amy Poehler’s season 2 Parks and Recreation pregnancy, producers simply ignored her growing belly by speeding up their shooting schedule.