Why I Love "Teen Mom" (And Why You Should Too)
One day last year I was hanging out at my apartment when my roommate switched on MTV’s documentary series "Teen Mom."
After one episode I was hooked, and watching every episode of it and its predecessor, "16 and Pregnant," online.
Now I appreciate a good, old-fashioned MTV reality show as much as the next girl, ("Jersey Shore," anyone?), but "Teen Mom" is different than the other shows on MTV or, in my opinion, any other show on television.
With the second season debuting Tuesday, I thought I would explain why I think it's a show everyone should be watching.
"Teen Mom" is a spin-off of another MTV documentary show, "16 and Pregnant." All four of the girls featured on "Teen Mom" were originally featured in an episode of "16 and Pregnant."
On the original show we saw Maci, who describes herself as an overachiever, completely change her life plan when she found out she was pregnant with her boyfriend Ryan’s baby. Unlike most teenage moms, Maci finishes high school early and gets her diploma shortly after giving birth to her son, Bentley (THE CUTEST BABY EVER).
Unfortunately for Maci, Ryan does not share her drive for success. The two became engaged and moved in together but Ryan’s lack of motivation to find a job or be a father eventually forced them apart.
In "Teen Mom" Ryan only continued his run for “d-bag of the year” award with classic one-liners such as telling Bentley that he “won’t buy him a f***ing birthday cake.”
At the end of the last season Maci and Bentley were living with her parents, and she and Ryan were over.
Another teen mom, Farrah, went from being a popular cheerleader to the butt of every joke when she got pregnant in high school. She transferred to an alternative high school and decided to keep her baby despite her parents wishes.
Her daughter Sophia’s father was only heard on a phone call, and Farrah made it clear from the beginning that he would not be involved in Sophia’s life.
Farrah had a hard time adjusting to her new role as a mother, and many episodes of "Teen Mom" showed her out dating and partying and leaving her baby with her parents. This created enormous tension within her family, and Farrah’s mom was arrested earlier this year after getting into a physical fight with her daughter.
Amber, a self-described “rebel,” dropped out of high school after having her daughter, Leah. Although her boyfriend, Gary, proposed to her, their relationship was wrought with problems, and Amber and Leah moved out of Gary’s apartment to one of their own. Gary and Amber are now back together but still fight constantly.
Amber is also trying to get her GED but finds it hard to juggle work, school and childcare.
Catelynn is a sweet girl who stays consistently optimistic in spite of all the hardships life has thrown at her. Her mom moved her around multiple times during her childhood and is now married to Catelynn’s boyfriend, Tyler’s, father, who is in and out of prison.
The kids don’t think it's that weird that their parents are married because they were together first. But when Catelynn got pregnant, they realized that their situation would not be good for their child. Without support from any of their family members Catelynn and Tyler made the heartbreaking decision to give their daughter, Carly, up for adoption.
"Teen Mom" uses their story in a very powerful way and chronicles their lives as birth parents. They have remained devoted to one another, and at the end of last season Tyler proposed.
This show is filled with drama and cute babies, so what else would a girl need? But there is one more very important element to "Teen Mom" that I think makes it a must-see for any teenager.
"Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant" are real. They don’t glamorize teen motherhood, as some critics have claimed, and they don’t gloss over any of the gory details.
Everyone knows “that girl” who got pregnant in high school, and schools are working harder than ever to help teenagers get educated about sex and its consequences.
But despite all of this effort, America has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized country.
Some have claimed that this is because many girls may not see pregnancy as such a big deal. The Pregnancy Pact scandal in Massachusetts, (which was fictionalized in a delightfully bad Lifetime movie,) shocked the nation when it turned out that these girls may have actually wanted to get pregnant. They thought that if they had a baby their lives would be enhanced, and they and their boyfriends would live happily ever after.
Well if they had watched "Teen Mom," they may have thought twice. We watch the girls struggle to keep their sanity after days of screaming babies not sleeping though the night and then having to get up and go to high school.
Sadly, many of the seemingly supportive boyfriends pictured on both shows aren’t interested in becoming dads, and many of the girls are left as single mothers. The boyfriends that do stick around are forced to work long hours to support their new families, leaving the girls to handle the babies largely on their own.
They have trouble staying in school and finding a job, and their lives are drastically changed.
Parents, if you want to convince your kids to wait to have sex or use protection every time, force them to watch "Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant." It is a wake up call for any lovestruck teenager who may not realize how serious the consequences could be.
On a lighter note, the show is incredibly entertaining, always packed with drama and the babies are getting cuter every day. I, for one, can't wait for the new season.
Reach reporter Stephanie McNeal here.