March 31st, 2010
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Categories: On Television

The season finale of The Secret Life of the American Teenager reportedly featured yet another unplanned pregnancy. Apparently two of the characters decided to have sex to get back at their exes. Bad idea number one. Then the writers decided to throw abortion into the conversation mix. Potential bad idea number two?

The character in question is quoted as saying, “I’m not having a baby and ruining my life like Amy.” Wow. That’s a pretty harsh statement.

Apparently coming off as another anti-Juno, hoping to de-glam the idea of teenage pregnancy, the show has tackled this topic before which I covered. Adoption was discussed before and now we’re apparently going to see the dramatics of the decision to abort or not. In a review from Entertainment Weekly online, covered the closing cliff-hanger scene well.


The cliffhanger ending, which showed Ben looking forlornly out an upstairs bedroom window at his father’s wedding reception in the yard below as Adrian took a pregnancy test, also happens to be the first time this show has choked me up. I don’t think that’s a coincidence — it reflects the enormity of such a decision, and the power of effective drama.

That particular review also begs the question: will writing an abortion for a main character into a teen show make it seem like the easy decision? Juno was chastised, heavily, by making adoption seem like an easy decision. Most shows make teen parenting seem like a day at the candy store. Why would we expect a teen show to make abortion look any harder?

The truth is that some people hate when shows tackle these issues. To be honest, they do frequently miss the mark. However, if parents are paying attention to what their teens are watching, it leaves the door open for a dialogue on these very important issues. When Brenda threw out the pregnancy test in her home bathroom garbage can on a (very old) episode of (the original) 90210, could my parents have used this as an opportunity to discuss these issues? Perhaps. Whatever the case and whatever the eventual decision, I’m still mostly glad to see issues facing today’s teens discussed in any way. As long as shows aren’t proclaiming, “Abortions are fun!” Or, “Adoption is easy-peasy!” Or, “Teen parenting is cake!” I’ll be okay with it.

What are your thoughts on how this show (and others) continue to tackle the topic of teen pregnancy and the options that surround it?

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One Response to “Another Unplanned Pregnancy on TV”

  1. I feel the same way you do! As long as the topic is being brought up parents can take the opportunity to go deeper with their kids on the issue. The main problem with that would be the parents would need be watching the show with them which probably doesn’t happen all that often unfortunately. I LOVE that the series 16 and pregnant shows both sides…teen parenting and adoption. It doesn’t sugar coat either side either. It shows the heartache of placing but the joy from knowing your child is being raised in a loving two parent home. There have been studies that show teens are more likely to place if the “know” someone else that has placed. This includes having seen documentaries or TV shows with examples of teens that place. We do a program in San Diego County at the High Schools where we bring a panel of teenagers who are pregnant and placing or have recently placed and have them tell their story to Health Classes. It really brings it closer to home to the students and the teachers said there has been some great discussions in the days following that presentation. Here’s a link to it as an example…

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