The MTV series Generation Cryo follows the narrative of Bree, a teen birthed from cryogenic conception. She has two mothers whom are no longer together. The relationship between these two women is extremely strained and simmered with negativity. Bree, throughout the show, embarks on a journey to identify and locate her sperm donor. However, the donor is anonymous. The word anonymous is a trigger, unambiguous and sharp. It sirens, “Do no contact this person even if there’s a 99% off sale or fifteen potential children waiting for them.” Disregarding this notion, Bree continues on her emotionally convoluted journey. She reaches out to her half-siblings, other individuals whose parents or parent used the same sperm donor. They contacted each other through a website by using the sperm donor’s identification number. Each week another layer of this mystery yields and Bree gets closer to her alleged goal.
The show, foundationally, is a great social experiment. Cryogenics is a tool for conception that has become commonplace. When a viewer watches this show, legitimate factors arise such as, the necessity to have a complete family medical history. Conversely, ethical tones also taint the landscape of Bree’s mission. The donor wanted his identity to remain shrouded for personal reasons. In one episode, Bree discovers that one of her half-siblings wrote to the donor and has yet to hear a response. In this scenario, you have an individual who initially requested to be nameless and years later, resounded that sentiment. One cannot watch this show, no matter how intriguing the story appears, without this principled fact echoing. This is a quest to claim something that Bree desires, but is not entitled.
Another indefinite factor is Bree and her motivations. It’s unclear what her true wishes are regarding the sperm donor. Her answer to this direct question varies. When her half-brother asked Bree if she wanted a relationship with the donor she replied “she doesn’t know.” In the second episode she stated that she did not want a relationship and compared her search to a fantasy with no emotional attachment. Based on her conflicting mothers’ history and shifting responses, her detachment is hard to believe. In the first episode, the idea of the donor not wanting to meet her was posed by her half-siblings’ father. She was defensive and frazzled. Her only response was, “well what if he does?” Anytime her logic is challenged or questioned, she responds in a way that asserts various intentions. She might be looking for a father or merely answers to questions. Yet, the problem here is that there are expectations.
Bree is drudging up the past not only in her life but in her half-siblings’ as well. These scenes are so poignant and raw to watch. The reason why each parent chose or needed a donor differs. The story of each household serves as a character on the show. The vignettes of each family spans from a tearful father battling with the insecurity that comes with sterility to a single mother. Another surface on the prism of Bree’s quest is the lives she’s intersecting. Is her search interesting and entertaining, absolutely. Her connectedness with her half-siblings is sincere and inspiring. But the audience cannot escape the fact that they’re watching a show about a person, seeking another, who doesn’t want to be found. Bree is muddling lives and could potentially do the same to the donor if she’s successful in her search. In the end, when looking at the scenario ethically, how far is allowed to answer the burning question of “what if” branded in her heart?