Warning: this post contains spoilers for Call the Midwife episodes 3 and 6
One criticism I've seen of Call the Midwife is that episode 3 is unrealistic. In this episode, an older couple finds themselves unexpectedly pregnant, and the mother seems less than thrilled about this development. Partway through the episode, she confides in the midwives that she's afraid that when the baby is born it will be black. It seems she didn't love her husband, only married him for financial security for her (now grown) children from her previous marriage, and had had a single one-night stand with a black man. So the baby is born, and it is black. And the mother's husband thinks it's the most adorable baby that has ever lived, and is later seen proudly pushing his pram.
Critics say that the man's immediate acceptance of a baby that clearly isn't is isn't realistic, especially for that era. But it really worked for me as an audience member because, for that very reason, it was a totally unexpected plot twist. I was expecting her husband to abandon her or beat her or something, or, as a longshot, have a visceral negative reaction but ultimately forgive his wife. His utter delight at having a baby to raise came as a complete surprise, and therefore I found it narratively satisfying.
However, this affected my reaction to episode 6. In episode 6, a patient informs the midwives that she has come to London from wherever she was before to be with the father of her baby. She is confident that he will be thrilled that she's pregnant. He isn't home (she says he's a sailor and is at sea) so she gains entry to his flat somehow only to discover that there's no sign of life and the electricity and water isn't turned on. And then, of course, she goes into labour there. (And gives birth to triplets.) And is still deliriously happy with the situation.
I was expecting her babies' father to never come back, or to turn her out of his house, or to end up already having a wife and kids. But instead, we see her in one of the final scenes walking down the street pushing her pram, with the babies' father walking beside her and proudly carrying one of the babies. And this struck me as unrealistic and not narratively satisfying.
An unexpected plot twist is enjoyable, but having every single potentially reluctant father end up being thrilled with the new arrival eliminates a lot of the potential dramatic tension. Either they should have had an unhappy new father in between these two plots, or the triplets' father's willingness to be a father should have been established earlier. (Even though the triplets' mother's story is an impetus in Chummy's decision to move forward with her love life, they could have resolved the father's issue by having him find the mother in labour and call the midwives, and then gotten dramatic tension from a sudden delivery of undiagnosed triplets.) Creating the same dramatic tension as in episode 3 and having it resolve the same way weakens the series as a whole.