What to Watch: Our Father is a harrowing fertility horror story
Back in 2019, Fox debuted Almost Family, the short-lived Fox drama about an only child who discovers she has more than 100 siblings... because her fertility-doctor Dad used his own sperm on his patients. Viewers roundly rejected the series, and it was canceled after one season.
There was no such relief for Jacoba Ballard, the real-life woman at the center of Our Father, the deeply unsettling true-crime documentary dropping on Netflix today. Directed by Lucie Jordan, Father chronicles Ballard's discovery that she was just one of dozens of children sired by a well-known Indianapolis fertility doctor.
Throughout the '70s and '80s, Dr. Donald Cline was the go-to specialist for Indiana couples who were having trouble getting pregnant. In 2014, Ballard — who knew her parents had used a fertility specialist — decided to take a DNA test to see if she had any siblings. The results opened up the door to a nightmare, as Ballard began connecting the many, many dots between Dr. Cline and the women and the families he victimized. (Recalls Cline's former patient Liz White, "I was raped 15 times and I didn't even know it.")
Our Father uses reenactments, interviews, and audio recordings of Cline's conversations with Ballard to explore the horrifying and far-reaching consequences of the doctor's repeated misdeeds. Though its not an easy watch, it's inspiring to watch Ballard and her newfound siblings turn their trauma into a campaign for justice and accountability.
Our Father is streaming now on Netflix.