Reflections of 'The Secret Life of an American Teenager'

I wish I had been blogging about this show (and other similar ones) for the last couple of years. Many times I am thankful the topic of pregnancy hits the mainstream TV audience, but sometimes I cringe if I am unsure of the direction they may take. In the last year alone, we have seen this topic hit: Private Practice (abortion in a pro-life family and postpartum depression), Teen Mom (MTV) and of course, 'Secret Life' on ABC Family. There is more I am sure but my brain is fuzzy right now.

It is not my intent to over analyze a show, praise it or criticize it, but merely respond to it and open up discussion. Background: This show started with a young, sweet high school girl who seemed to fall in the 'good girl' category. She goes to band camp and has sex for the first time and gets pregnant. She considers abortion but realizes she can't go through with it. For two seasons we have watched her, the father of the baby and family and friends respond to this. Do I think it's realistic? Sometimes. I can't go back and give my thoughts on the past but this year's storyline is different. Basically, another student gets pregnant and tonight, she is supposedly on her way to get an abortion. Her reputation suggests she sleeps around. She is also the girl who was born because her mother had an unplanned pregnancy. Coincidentally perhaps, her birth dad is now just back in the picture and married to her mother.

What do I like? The struggle when the family unit doesn't agree on what to do. Dad wants her to keep the baby and tries to take control of the situation. She wants to abort. Her mother 'supports her decision whatever it is'. Oh and the father of the baby is also in the 'I will support her in whatever she wants' camp but seems really wishy washy on where he stands and frankly I think enjoying too much sitting on his 'I will support her' fence. It conveniently keeps him from making an adult decision. Basically, all of their differing viewpoints are real life. We hardly see the entire family unit in agreement on what to do. It is raw and hard on everyone.

What I don't like. I don't like that adoption was never discussed as an option. The only person who even slightly mentions it is the pregnant girls 'religious' friend whom I think never actually says the word "adoption". (I won't mention how they mockingly portray the 'Christian' girl yet.) I hate that such a wonderful option received no air time whatsoever. The only reason she gives for not keeping the baby is that 'she is not ready to be a parent'. It isn't even that she is worried about people finding out as at least 1/3 of the school already figured it out. So why not put adoption on the table at least? I also don't like the stereotype of the 'good girl' on the show choosing life and the 'bad girl' is choosing abortion. It doesn't always go that way. We like to think it does...but it doesn't. And I don't like that no one really sits down and talks with her about the emotional and/or medical side effects of abortion. Her mother tries to say both decisions are big and life changing but there really wasn't a deep thoughtful process on what kind of thoughts she would even be experiencing. It was all about: we have to get this done. But I can't fault the show for portraying it that way as it is pretty close to how it happens sometimes.

Frankly, I am not sure what they will do tonight. As far as I know, they haven't really had a girl on a TV show choose abortion, have they? We know it happens. In fact, it happens at least1 in 3 times if not more in an unplanned pregnancy. Even 'Party of Five' many years ago had a character miscarry on the way to the abortion procedure. Sure, there are shows where the character may have already had one, but actually having one...pretty big even for TV.

Tune in to this blog and I will share my thoughts on it on the other side...

Renee