The Secret Life of the American Teenager

ABC Family (that would not be your standard-fare ABC, this is a cable channel) has a new show whose “WORLD PREMIER” (oh, please) is tonight: The Secret Life of the American Teenager. It’s about a high school student who gets pregnant.

My initial thoughts: Oh, please. Yes, Juno made a lot of money. But that doesn’t mean that the networks (or even the network “subsidiaries”) can be anywhere near as relevant, snarky, or non-judgemental as Diablo Cody. Which means you probably suck.

But I said to myself, “Dr. Karen, you’ve got to give this a chance. Who knows? Maybe it’s the new Freaks and Geeks!” And then I laughed at my own little joke until I fell off the couch. Because of course nothing could portray teenagers as well as either Juno OR Freaks and Geeks, and even attempting to puts the creators in such a laughable place that it makes me fall off couches.

But hey, it’s my job to stay on top of things like this, so I prepared myself for five minutes of crap and went to take a look at their little trailer.  And here’s the stunning thing: It wasn’t so bad.  After the five minute trailer, I am willing to watch at least one episode of the show.

So according to this very little, tiny “teaser” about this show, here’s what they got right:

  • Pregnant Girl isn’t a bad-girl-slut who finds her way, she’s a band nerd who doesn’t know what she’s doing.
  • Pregnant Girl and her two friends seem, on first glance, to be pretty real.  This is a huge accomplishment.  I hope it holds up to the test of another 38 minutes of screen time.

And here’s what they got wrong:

  • Pregnant Girl got pregnant after having sex for the first time.  I’m sorry, that’s so Juno.
  • The dad is a boob.  This has been done and re-done and over-done far too often for anything good to possibly come of it.  I’m exhausted by stupid-TV-dads.  (Yes, even the one in Freaks and Geeks.)

I’m dubious (they are, after all, only 2-for-2 here).  And here’s my raging question:

What happens when Pregnant Girl gives birth?

Do they have a shitty show and not let her go past 6 or 7 months pregnant, forever living with an-unnamed alien in her tummy?  Do they jump the shark and bring a baby into the show, and Pregnant Girl becomes Mommy Girl?  Do they bite the bullet and end what might be a popular show?  This plot set up is time-limited, and I’m dubious that they’ll do the right thing and end it when it should end.

Like I said: I’m willing to watch the first episode.  Except that I can’t.  I don’t have ABC Family.  Anyone want to Tivo it for me and invite me over?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Rev. Debra Haffner, who I like very much, watched The Secret Life last night, and has a scathing review on her blog this morning. Here you go:

  2. Hi Karen, I couldn’t believe how stereotypical this was, starting with underscoring that every teenage boy is obsessed with having (or not having sex.) I did like last night’s NBC’s “The Baby Borrowers” much better, and think it could be valuable for use with student groups. You could watch parts of the “Secret Life” on YouTube. I’d love your reactions. Sounds like the trailer is far better than the show.

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