Never one to put the Style Network and “thought-provoking” in the same sentence, I was struck by the sheer weird power of “Sperm Donor” (8 p.m.).
Over the past few decades, the use of donors by married infertile couples and single women has grown exponentially, creating a brave new world of family dynamics and ethical dilemmas.
This becomes glaring and apparent when we meet Ben. An astoundingly regular guy, Ben became a sperm donor during law school. Ten years later, he stumbled upon the Donor Sibling Registry. Most people on the site are the offspring of sperm donors who hope to find information about their “fathers” or to reach out to half siblings, born to other mothers.
After submitting his name to the site, Ben was startled to find out that he was not responsible for a child or two, or even 20. He was the sperm donor “dad” to 74 kids.
Ben’s reaction to this news, and the feelings of his friends and fiancee, go a long way toward showing the difference between men and women and comedy and tragedy. An old school pal laughs and exclaims, “You have a clan, man!” His fiancee worries about busloads of offspring crashing family reunions. It’s a nightmare.
Things get a little uncomfortable when Ben decides to visit one of his “kids.” Is this wise? Curiosity or grandiosity? And how fair is this visit to the other 73?
The 2010 drama “The Kids Are All Right” already found a great story in this powerful scenario. But that was about only two children in the same family. Imagine a movie about an everyday guy finding himself the unwitting patriarch of a virtual tribe! I can’t believe Judd Apatow hasn’t optioned the rights to Ben’s story.
• “POV” (9 p.m., PBS) presents the award-winning documentary “Last Train Home.” Every year, more than 130 million rural workers who have moved to China’s cities return to their villages for New Year’s celebrations. This “commute” represents one of the largest migrations in human history. “Train” uses the occasion to examine the cost of that country’s rapid urbanization and industrialization.
Tonight’s other highlights
• On “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC): last night’s action (7 p.m.) and a live elimination (9 p.m.).
• Schuster’s boot camp on “Glee” (7 p.m., Fox).
• “History Detectives” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) examines artifacts from the Prohibition era.
• The guys help Jess remove her things from her boyfriend’s place on “New Girl” (8 p.m., Fox).
• A new health crisis on “Downsized” (8 p.m., WE).
• Sabrina’s roots are showing on “Raising Hope” (8:30 p.m., Fox).
• A juvenile witness evokes painful memories on “Unforgettable” (9 p.m., CBS).
• Sarah feels cut off from Amber on “Parenthood” (9 p.m., NBC).
• Deer hunting can be deadly on “Body of Proof” (9 p.m., ABC).
• A new business venture looms on “Sons of Anarchy” (9 p.m., FX).