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The Juno Apocalypse

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Review: The Secret Life of the American Teenager season premiere was my one-hour first date with teen pregnancy. To be honest, I don't think there'll be a second.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager .jpg

As a Molly Ringwald fan since the '80s, I was eagerly anticipating the season premiere of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, thinking that the show would treat the teen pregnancy topic with the same degree of sensitivity and warm fuzzies as the movie For Keeps?, in which Ringwald starred as a pregnant teen and new mom. After all, the TV show's producers have had a perfect media buzz to set it up--pregnancy pacts in Gloucester, Mass., experimental parenthood in the Baby Borrowers and Juno as America's new sweetheart.

I am sad to say I was wrong.

The show was filled with stereotypical characters and over-the-top acting: the jock, the sexually frustrated Christian, the nerd who desperately wants a girlfriend, Pollyanna, the innocent-turned-bad-girl, the whore and the womanizer/jerk (whose sappy lines and moves would've thrown cold water on any young girl's desire). Amy, the 15-year-old (and recently preggers) main character showed very little variation throughout the hour, only getting a little misty-eyed when she saw the plus sign on her pregnancy test. While Molly didn't disappoint me, she was in the show for a total of 10 minutes. Sigh.

However, as it's been quite a while since I was 15, I wasn't super surprised to find a teen fan in the blogosphere, who felt that she could really relate to the show's characters and even urged parents to watch--perhaps for them to keep up with current (teen) affairs. Touché.

Experts are saying that the "Juno effect" is real--between the hoorah with Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy and the positive plight of Juno, Hollywood is making pregnancy attractive to teens. Maybe moms will be able to watch the show to get a weekly snapshot of what's going on in high schools today. However, I'd recommend a Mean Girls movie night instead. That's what my high school looked like.

next: The Creepiest Voice Message. Ever.
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Audrey July 3, 2008, 10:07 AM

I was really looking forward to this show, because although Juno is my FAVORITE movie, this one looked more *real*… It pretty much looks like how real highschool is, thats for sure. Cant wait till next episode:D

Rick July 5, 2008, 5:53 PM

I am a public speaker for Teen Pregnancy at high schools and colleges,and must point out that Hollywood doesn’t have anything at all to do with the teen birth rate, or the teen pregnancy rate. It never did.

Instead, the teen birth rate is the result of th adult birth rate, poverty, early sexualization, sex abuse, violence, an older/younger attraction, and male abandonment.

This complex stew of social and personal situations force teens into balancing out competing choices, choosing the best from almost all bad choices.

The wealthiest communities have the lowest teen births almost always- the poorest, the highest. Gloucester has an extremely low teen birth rate, teen pacts or not.

Juno was absurd, ridiculous, and the only reality of it was her relationship with Jennifer Garners Husband, I think his name was Mark. Older, immature, emotionally stunted adult pulling older than her years teen girl into the adult netherworld- dancing, low talking, earning her trust, treating her like a girlfriend. He’s the guy that in reality would be getting her pregnant, not Paulie. Only 2% of all girls give the baby up- that’s the truth, and the teen doesn’t get to interview the parents either. What a hoot!

Bottom line- teens are only reacting to society adults created for them. Their choice to become pregnant seems, on the surface to be horrific. But it’s not, given what their future is likely to be. Teen Pregnancy is not a teen problem- never was, never will be. It’s an adult problem, always was, always will be.

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