A blast from the past!

A post from last summer, from my other blog.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager or, why I remain willfully disengaged from pop-culture

Are you a moody pregnant teenager? Are you planning on becoming pregnant to create drama and seek revenge? Do you frequently discuss your sex life with your parents, or kind of want to anyway? If you answered yes to any of those, you might watch Secret Life. If there’s something more unsettling than the questionable quality of the script, it’s the longevity of the series. I didn’t mean to spend so much time on this critique, but it just sort of happened (like a certain pregnancy!).

Reasons not to watch this show:

1. Amy – the chick who gets pregnant first – wants to attend Juilliard.
Most conservatories and esteemed music schools require some type of pre-screening or audition for entrance. Many of these institutions also require proficiency on an instrument, if not something short of talent. What is Amy doing to prepare for the process? Instead of diligently practicing, taking lessons, or attending the occasional master class, she wiles the time by either thinking about or cheating on Ben, talking about sex pretty candidly with her parents, or crying a few times per episode. (I think she also has a kid, but maybe not.) Auditions? What of them?

2. The plot employs embarrassingly clichéd stereotypes.
The “bad girl” who openly admits to be easy; the wholesome football player with a penchant for the ladies; the sarcastic, holier-than-thou “goth” chick; that one religious girl; and the pregnant girl (oops, which one?). Anyway, aside from a pretty trite premise, the series depends on the occurrence of interesting interactions between a few embarrassing stereotypes, none of which actually come to fruition. The volume of content per episode is so high that the ramifications for normally upsetting scenarios that occur (pregnancy, divorce, etc.) aren’t actually felt. Not that there needs to be more in each episode. Personally, I think capping the pregnancies at one would still send a message to most girls who think unprotected sex (with a bad boy, no less) is inconsequential. But no.

3. Most of the parents on this show are dangerously unfit to parent.
For a moment, I will disregard the unrealistic propensity for every teen on this show to casually discuss sex with their parents – moreover, their own sexual histories. I will even concede that the show encourages more candid communication about sex between teenagers who haven’t yet discovered Wikipedia and their parents – awkward, but not altogether a bad thing. Whatever.

In the course of just a few seasons, extramarital affairs, jail, mysterious business trips, honeymoons, and a sketchy move to Phoenix separate parents from their vastly irresponsible and curious teens. When one of the parents isn’t getting pregnant, engaged, or lying to the other parent, one adult or another will casually mention, “I hope you’re not having oral sex with that Ricky boy! You know how I felt after your one-night stand at band camp!” To which Amy – or anyone – will likely reply, “Sorry I’m not perfect!” Drama ensues. Unfortunately, that’s hardly an exaggeration of most of the dialogue on the show – and more fortunately, doesn’t broach the parent-child dynamic of anyone I know.

4. There has already been a death, a reunion episode with an AWOL father, a divorce, a few re-engagements, and like, nine pregnancies.
Come on! When will ABC acknowledge that these plot-fillers constitute most of the stuff of daytime soaps? (See the Wikipedia article of the series for a long-winded explanation of the plot.) With most other series, I can drop away for a few episodes (unless it’s ANTM) and still understand the continuity of the plot, etc. Not that I had been following this show, but so many things happen in the course of a forty-minute episode, that you have to be careful not to plan anything else when it airs. Should you wander off during a commercial break (or  lose interest), you will find yourself wondering who got who pregnant this time, or who has decided that they’re ready to bow out of an abortion or something.

5. There is a third season
No explanation necessary.


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