We all have to grow up eventually. As Jordan Peterson suggests, this is easiest to do if you have children. New mother Ilana Glazer, known for playing a raunchy single girl in the sitcom Broad City, probably knows this better than anybody. But becoming a mother doesn’t mean giving up toilet humor. In fact, it’s probably more relevant than ever before. 

Now mother to a 2-year-old, Glazer has brought her irreverent humor to Babes, a comedy about friendship, motherhood, and unexpected pregnancy. Alongside fellow mother and longtime friend Michelle Buteau, Glazer plays Eden, a yoga instructor whose hobbies include psychedelics and casual sex. Her best friend, Dawn (Buteau), is recently a mother of two who can’t seem to breastfeed her infant or hold down a nanny for her 4-year-old. 

When Glazer ends up pregnant after a one-night stand, she unexpectedly decides to keep the baby. “It just feels like destiny, and this is destiny’s child,” she says, squealing at the accidental pun. (Her hook-up conveniently dies, at least as far as the plot is concerned, shortly following their encounter.)

It feels pleasantly pro-life to watch a woman gleefully embrace her unborn child on screen, even if the rest of the film takes pains to remind us that she didn’t have to make that choice. (Glazer, who co-wrote the film’s script, has been vocal about her pro-choice beliefs, including on Babes’s press tour.)

When Eden tells her twin STI doctors about the pregnancy, one cheers, “Single mom!” to which the other interjects, “She may not keep the baby,” gesturing broadly and adding, “Choice.” In a line that’s played for laughs but is also a subtle reminder of the emptiness of our choice-based culture, the first twin revises his cheer: “Single!”

Even Dawn is initially unsupportive of Eden, looking disappointed when her friend announces she’ll continue her pregnancy. Nevertheless, Dawn pledges to join her at all her prenatal appointments.

Is Eden ready to grow up? Certainly not at the moment; she decides it’s a good idea to watch The Omen with Dawn’s 4-year-old as long as he doesn’t tell his parents. But she will be. 

Babes is primarily a movie about friendship, though parents are likely to find many of its moments cathartic or laugh-out-loud funny. In one scene, for example, after suffering from a low supply of breast milk, Dawn ceremonially smashes and burns her hospital-grade breast pump. Eden, after giving birth, mistakenly believes the adult diapers for postpartum mothers are for relieving oneself in, a misconception that elicits a horrified reaction from a nurse. 

Dawn and Eden share a compelling chemistry as they navigate the trials of adult friendship. But the film’s depiction of parenthood, despite its raw and humorous moments, seems to not be telling the whole story. 

In a recent interview, Glazer described pregnancy and motherhood: “It’s total ecstasy. It’s also incredibly hard, messy, frustrating. You can beat yourself up. You feel distant from your partner in ways you didn’t realize you would, and you have to work in new ways to find each other again. It’s dark at times, but, damn, the light shines brighter than I’ve ever seen in my life.”

It’s too bad we don’t get to see this on screen. Dawn’s relationship with her children is distant at best. It is her husband (Hasan Minhaj) whom we see caring for them while Dawn suffers from constant burnout. On her husband’s birthday, after depositing his cake on the kitchen table, she slinks away to watch her family wearily from the stairwell. She could be suffering from any number of postpartum mood disorders, and one can expect to be overwhelmed after the birth of an additional child. But it’s never clear to us what Dawn likes about being a mother, or whether she even likes her children. 

During one pivotal scene, Dawn arrives home from accompanying Eden on her “babymoon” to find that the house has gone to s***, literally. An old pipe has burst, filling their home with Civil War-era sewage and turning it into a toxic wasteland. She tells her husband that she can’t do this anymore, not even sure what “this” is. She wants to be with her children while she’s at work, and she wants to be at work or anywhere else when she’s with her children. 

Her husband says he feels the same way. He hates work but he’s got to do it; the best you can hope for, he says, is to work until you die so that your children can be healthy and happy. They’re “f***ed,” he concludes. They commiserate over their shared misery and tumble into bed. 

It’s supposedly heartening that the couple is on the same page, but that page is depressing as all get-out. This is quite the contrast to Eden’s attitude; after she gives birth, she wonders aloud why news anchors aren’t talking about the miracle of life all day long. (I’ll give you one reason: that wouldn’t be very pro-choice of them.) 

Babes is entertaining, easy to watch (if occasionally uncomfortable), and commendable for its gritty depictions of pregnancy and birth and everything that new mothers must face. But it disregards the directive “show, don’t tell.” You can tell the viewer that parenthood is wonderful and worthwhile, but unless she sees it, she’s not going to believe you. 

Maybe the film needs a little more perspective from the hormonal postpartum mother who is flooded with oxytocin. Life is a miracle, even if that miracle often comes with a lot of crap.