To some people, having children is the whole reason for existing; for others, it's the end of life as they know it.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, reproducing ourselves in small form remains as fascinating as ever. It has spawned a rash of films on the subject this summer, with plots ranging from male pregnancy to last-chance conception. Here, we preview six shows coming to a stage or screen near you, alongside their closest real-life(ish) equivalent.
'Friends with Kids'
The plot: Jennifer Westfeldt plays a chic urbanite whose social life grinds to a halt after her friends all settle down. After seeing the stress, chaos and loss of romance that her friends experience after having children she has a baby with a platonic friend, played by Adam Scott.
The reality: The gay theatre director Stephen Daldry surprised friends in 2001 when he announced his marriage to the American magazine editor Lucy Sexton. Daldry apparently realised he wanted his own family while directing Billy Elliot, and Sexton, a close friend, was happy to oblige. More than a decade later, they remain married with a child.
'What to Expect When You're Expecting'
The plot: First it was a bestselling book. Now it's a celebrity-studded film about five couples bracing themselves for parenthood – including Jennifer Lopez, who plays a woman adopting a child from Ethiopia.
The reality: Angelina Jolie adopted her first son from an orphanage in Cambodia. A decade on, she and her partner Brad Pitt have six children, three of whom are adopted.
The fertility scare
'Not Suitable for Children'
The plot: The carefree ways of a hedonist come to a juddering halt when he learns that he has one month of fertility left. Terrified at the prospect of a childless future, he sets off in search of someone to meet his timetable.
The reality: In an interview with Larry King in 2007 Gordon Ramsay explained how he had struggled with a low sperm count. He and his wife have three children conceived through IVF and one naturally.
The male pregnancy
The plot: Stephen Mangan and Lisa Dillon play a nervy couple experiencing the final throes of pregnancy. Only this time it's the man who is expecting. Joe Penhall's play at the Royal Court claims to depict childbirth in its full "physical horror" and "psychological and emotional complexity".
The reality: Well, 21st-century science hasn't quite hit this point yet, but that's not for lack of trying. The closest it has come so far is through transgender pregnancies, the most famous of which is the American Thomas Beatie, who has had three children since 2007.
The return of virile youth
'That's My Boy'
The plot: Adam Sandler plays the feckless Donny, who impregnated his teacher and raised his son, Todd, as a single parent. After not seeing his son for years, Donny resurfaces, determined to rediscover the father-son bond just days before Todd gets married.
The reality: Casey Aldridge and Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney Spears's sister, had their daughter Maddie when Jamie Lynn was 16. The pair broke up and Jamie Lynn carved out a career as a country singer. All that remains now is the eventual return of Aldridge.
'This is 40'
The plot: Judd Apatow's sequel to Knocked Up catches up with a couple played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann more than a decade on. Their foundations were hardly stable; the two were brought together after a one-night stand that led to an unwanted pregnancy and a shot-gun wedding. Yet, a decade later, they are hitting their stride in middle age.
The reality: Doubters across Hollywood in 2004 dismissed the whirlwind romance between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. Yet eight years on the couple have just welcomed their third baby into the world.
Additional reporting: Ana Bogdan
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- Angelina Jolie
- Billy Elliot
- Gordon Ramsay
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