Education, Entertainment, Hollywood

The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Contrived


ABC Family should be given the benefit of the doubt, they probably were trying to come up with a TV series that would attract teens enough to give them  a path to talk about teen pregnancy.  It was a nice idea, but somewhere along the line it became more like a PG espisode of the Donny & Marie show. 

The characters are completely unrealistic, even the adult characters are not even accurate enough to make it plausible to really teach a generation of teens about teen pregnancy.  It is a soap opera for innocent teens.  The series opens up with a far too sweet and innocent 15 year old who sneaks a pregnancy test home in her french horn case (I mean come on, really), takes the test in the bathroom while her mom rattles on about this being the part of her life where she needs to have fun.  Probably the most significant learning tool is conveniently lost in the timing of the first episode; how older boy talks girl into sex in the first place.

From there the word of the pregnancy swirls around school for some four weeks before Amy, the now pregnant teen, tells her parents that she is pregnant.  Along the way she meets Ben, an overly kind, overly naive 15 year old who falls “madly in love” with her and in what would appear to be two or three months, they decide to get married.  Ben’s father is extremely wealthy so all of the real concerns that a typical pregnant teen would confront are seemingly washed away; so much for the reality of teen pregnancy.   All the while that Ben and Amy are falling in love and declaring their desire to get married and make all of their troubles go away,  all the ancillary characters, teen and adult, are switching partners like a Delta Frat party at Animal House’s infamous Faber College.  Oh, and the real kicker, all of these teens go to a Magnet School.

Here are the completely unbelievable aspects of the show;

Amy is approximately 6 months along in her pregnancy and the father of the baby, Ricky; his parents and Amy’s parents have yet to meet or even have a conversation over the phone.

Ben’s father, a widower, thinks that if the kids are in love, why not let them get married, if that’s what they want to do.

Six months into the pregnancy, Amy and her mom have their first real conversation about who will care for the baby after the birth.  Amy assumes that her mom will just “stay home with the baby” while she goes to “school and band practice and stuff just Monday through Friday”. 

The most irritating member of the cast is George Jergens, Amy’s dad.  In every scene where he interacts with anyone but his daughters he is a simple-minded egocentric Neanderthal.  When he talks to his wife, it makes everyone watching wonder what she was thinking when she decided to marry this genius in the first place and it’s not the actor, it’s the writing. When he talks to his daughters he is usually what one would consider an adult, yet every other time he is simply awful!  Sadly, it appears that, with few exceptions, the casts of characters have no real moral or personal center.  They easily vacillate, often times in the same scene, from one extreme to the other in how they think, feel, act and react to everything around them.

In the most recent episode Ben and Amy sneak off to get married with fake IDs and as the day goes on all of their teen friends learn about it and show up at the wedding chapel.  No one in the chapel, except for the minister, is over 18, yet the ceremony goes on as planned.

It would appear that the writers are trying so hard to hit on all of the emotions that are rippling out from this teen’s pregnancy that they just don’t have enough characters to properly distribute the spectrum of the heart.  If they really wanted to share a true story of teen pregnancy with their audience, a reality show may well have been more appropriate. 

Even the title doesn’t make sense; the way rumors and info flow between the chacters in this show, Amy’s life as a pregnancy teen is anything but a secret!


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