Megan Morris 10/1/12 Ms. Caruso ENGL 1103 The ‘Teen Mom’ Whirlwind It’s 9:58 on a Tuesday night.

Three and a half million people are turning on their TV’s, immediately switching the channel to MTV. This is because the third most-watched series on cable television, Teen Mom, is about to come on. It’s the finale episode and everyone is so excited because they are about to find out the inside scoop on the latest Teen Mom drama. Is Farrah’s daughter, Sophia, going to live with her or with her mom, have Catelynn and Tyler set a date for their wedding yet, how does Maci feel about Ryan’s new girlfriend, is Amber going to rehab and is Gary going to get custody of their daughter, Leah? Teen Mom is the documentation of these teenage parents and what experiences they have. MTV general manager Stephen Friedman says, “This is a show that is just heartbreakingly honest.” It is not a glamorization of teenage pregnancy, but rather the gritty and dirty truth of it. Besides, there is nothing glamorous about dirty diapers, sleep deprivation, money struggles and the like. “This scrappy series about real kids grappling with custody battles, waitressing jobs, midnight diaper runs, and extreme family dysfunction is a best-of-both-worlds phenomenon for MTV,” says Jennifer Armstrong in her article, ‘Teen Mom’, for the magazine Entertainment Weekly. These teenagers had to grow up so much faster than most of America’s teenagers. They have to deal with adult problems and make adult decisions because now they have another person’s life in their hands. Chances are, if someone were to search Maci Bookout, Catelynn Lowell, Amber Portwood, or Farrah Abraham on Facebook, more than a million fan pages would pop up. Not to mention all of the magazine covers there are of these four girls roaming around on the shelves in the grocery store. Audiences that have become so attached to these four girls feel free to comment on their every

Comment [K1]: Reviewed by Kelsey Franklin

Comment [K2]: This seems a little bit awkward maybe try to reword it to be more natural

parenting decision and relationship fiasco. Before ’16 & Pregnant’ aired, people were talking about Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears, all these sensational stories. Now it’s four small town girls dealing with real life troubles that serve as a soap opera that draws people in. Maci, Catelynn, Amber, and Farrah aren’t actors, and the cameras add more pressure to their already stressful lives – especially with the tabloids turning everything from their breast implants to their breakups into headlines. The creator and executive producer of ‘Teen Mom’ believes that the storytelling is not more important than the girls’ well-being and that the girls want to share their experiences because it’s a concrete representation of their struggles. More than 400, 000 teenagers get pregnant every year in the United States. This is not something that has been nationally publicized until about four years ago when 16 & Pregnant first aired on MTV. Since then, teenage pregnancy percentages have dropped because more people are watching Teen Mom and taking more precaution so as to not get pregnant. So what is so appealing about these TV shows that makes most of America want to watch them? It’s quite simply entertaining drama. These girls are going through something that can happen to anyone. It can prepare teenagers who are currently pregnant for what is to come, and it can cause teenagers to not want to have sex so that they don’t get pregnant. MTV leads a national discussion about birth control, abstinence, and abortion. Contrary to the plot lines in ‘90210’ and ‘Juno’, less than 2 percent of pregnant teens choose adoption in real life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 50 percent of teenage mothers get a high school diploma by age 22 and only about 2 percent graduate from college by the age of 30. Children of teenage mothers often do not have an active father and are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, be incarcerated, and give birth themselves at a young age. TV shows and movies portray sexual intercourse and teenage pregnancy as normal and easy. Some of the messages they send across are completely false. On ‘Gossip Girl’, everyone has steamy

Comment [K3]: I would go into more detail here because of people (like me) who have never seen the show and don’t know much about it besides the basics

hookups without protection and without consequences like STDs or pregnancy. The teen-mom character on ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’, Amy, had a baby last year but is already back in school and looking amazing – while maintaining a social life, balancing classes, and motherhood. Also there are movies like Juno, where it seems easy, and even noble, to be pregnant in high school. Constantly seeing messages like all of these can sneakily influence how someone may feel about having sex and getting pregnant. Two high school seniors believe that teens may not be getting a completely accurate depiction from the show of what teenage motherhood is really like, and that the fame that ‘Teen Mom’ has brought its stars might make pregnancy more appealing to younger teenagers. Becoming pregnant as a teenager is not easy and it significantly alters a girl’s life. When a teenage girl gets pregnant, certain elements of her future are fairly clear: It will be a struggle to finish school, to deal with strain on relationships and to handle adult responsibilities before entering adulthood. Kaeli, a junior at Ruth Houston Learning Center, adds that she watched ’16 & Pregnant’ while she was pregnant to try to learn from other girls in her situation, and she’s gleaned a lot of encouragement both from it and ‘Teen Mom’. Shailene Woodley, from ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’, says, “When my character was pregnant, I never cried so much in my life – and that wasn’t glamorous at all. In real life, I would never choose that for myself or anyone.” Her character’s life as a teen mom wasn’t portrayed very negatively. It didn’t look so horrible or unmanageable.
Comment [K5]: I don’t think much is missing besides specific examples about the girls lives and more comparison. All in all I think this is a very well written paper well thought out and with many details. Possibly think about teenage abortion rates when you are talking about adoption percentages? Just a thought not sure if that is the direction that you were interested in going towards or not. Comment [K6]: However I was wondering where are your sources cited? Comment [K7]: I think you should possibly include more about the positive messages of teen pregnancy like in 90210 and The Secret Life verses the actuality and truth in Teen Mom. Comment [K4]: What high school seniors? Where did this come from?