When the episode of Flipping Out aired with the birth of Monroe, I was horrified about the behavior of Jeff and Gage before and during the delivery.
Here are some of my comments on that episode.
“Jeff and Gage come up with the really awful idea of asking the surrogate to induce the baby when they come up if she doesn’t go into labor. Who does that? The baby will come when it is time for that baby to come. Gage seems miffed he can’t legally force her to induce!”
“When they get to Chico, the surrogate is still only three 3.5 cm. The doctor says it could take another week. The surrogate says she will induce if nothing is happening in a week. Again, Gage and Jeff are not particularly concerned about the well-being of the surrogate. They go for a stress test with her hoping that something shows up that causes her to have to be induced. I find this quite ….well I am not sure there is a word for it.”
“Then we see Gage and Jeff staring at this woman’s vagina. Jeff says if he were a surrogate and he knew there was going to be an audience, he would have waxed. Also we learned early in the episode that Gage can barely say the word vagina. Yet here they are. Jenni is literally holding up one of the surrogates legs. Jeff says he doesn’t think Gage has ever seen a vagina, “let alone one that big.” They seem sort of angry with the surrogate for going past the due date.”
The waxing and big vagina comments were extremely inappropriate and offensive.
Here is the thing. According to a recent Story in Variety, we learn that the surrogate, Alexandra Trent, never agreed to have the birth filmed, and in fact had no idea it was happening. Even the doctor was not aware it was happening! The camera crew hid behind a drawn curtain on the other side of the room!
The lawsuit mentions the two offensive comments bolded above and calls them disgusting and humiliating.
Trent says that she responded to a classified ad for a surrogate and had no idea about the reality show. She had no interest in being on the show but agree to let the ultrasound visits to be taped to promote surrogacy. She states that Bravo agreed not to tape the actual birth and then did it anyway without her knowledge. She doesn’t watch Flipping Out and had no idea the episode aired with her blurred out vagina front and center and the topic of derisive conversation. She only found out at a networking meeting when someone mentioned seeing the birth on the show to her. Wow.
“In their quest for ratings, Defendants have deeply damaged Trent and have caused incredible anguish, self-loathing, contempt and depression,” the suit states. Trent said she has asked Bravo to take down the clips, without success. She also canceled another surrogacy contract out of embarrassment, the suit alleges.The suit seeks damages for unlawful recording, invasion of privacy and fraud.
This is simply unimaginable, even for Bravo. I hope that NBCu is also listed as a defendant. That is where the money is, and she needs A LOT OF IT! Unless of course she did not read the release. That might be problematic.
Jeff posted a link to the Variety story today with the caption, “I guess we won’t be using her again.” and a crying emoji. That is the level of respect he has for the woman who bore his child. Disgusting.
UPDATE! I have now read the entire court filing for this suit. As I mentioned initially, it will all come down to the release. In the filing, Trent’s lawyer explains several things about the release. Trent was asked to DRIVE from Butte County, California to meet with Jeff and Gage in Los Angeles at a restaurant to discuss moving forward with the surrogacy arrangement. When she arrived at the restaurant, she was confronted by the production company who told her she could not speak to them without signing a release. Since she had driven eight hours she opted to sign the release and agreed to film the meeting. BIG MISTAKE.
However, that said, she is only releasing her filming with the two. She really doesn’t anticipate or desire to film for the show. That said, she signed a release. If there is something in the release that says they can film you with or without your knowledge (that would be creepy) then she may be screwed. BUT she filmed two other times regarding the pregnancy for doctor’s appointments. On both of those occasions, she had to sign a separate release, and a separate HIPPA release. Since she refused to film the birth, she never was asked to sign a release for that. The attorney is asking that the judge rule that the release does not apply to the birth as they had agreed not to film it. That will be the first order of business.
Oh and for whatever reason she is not suing NBCu, which is stupid. They have all the money and generally are quick to settle to avoid negative publicity. It’s possible they could be added later as one of them twenty Jane and John Does. At the moment there are only four defendants, Bravo, the production company, Jeff and Gage.
UPDATE TWO: JEFF SPEAKS OUT
Jeff has given a very believable response to the lawsuit to People. He says he and Gage are blindsided. He says they remained in contact with the surrogate for months after the birth. They point her a push gift. She sent gifts to the baby. He thought they had a good friendship.
He also says that she reached out through the surrogate attorney to let them know how hurt she was about the off color comments during the delivery. Jeff says he doesn’t even remember making the waxing comment and upon review realized it had been a frankenbite. I don’t really have a problem with him saying that to Gage off camera, (but apparently he said it in a talking head interview) and the Gage vagina comment was rather humorous. Any vagina dilated ten centimeters is probably a bit horrifying especially if you have never seen one before. Anyway, he says he apologized to him when she reached out and sent flowers. So that would seem to say that she did watch the episode. Here are a couple of quotes from the PEOPLE story.
“And this is where I’m so upset. Because, on one hand, I don’t want to tarnish this most amazing experience of my life,” he continued. “We couldn’t be more grateful to this woman for birthing our child. We are indebted to her… we are so completely grateful to her, because without her, we wouldn’t have Monroe. But on the other hand, these are fabricated claims and are completely bogus and without merit. This smells to me like a financial shakedown.”
“And not only did she sign an appearance release as part of our surrogacy contract, I believe she signed it as a separate appearance release with the production company. And she signed a nondisclosure agreement, which she now violated. So what’s the point of legal agreements if you’re just going to disregard them all?”
So, I’m over here on Team Jeff now. This is all very strange.