Secret Heresies: Teen Mom

The problem with a blog post category called “Secret Heresies” is that, well, it’s a blog post: it hardly qualifies as “secret.” That aside, every now and then it’s good to come clean about those things you normally wouldn’t admit. To own up to the little sins and vices you keep tucked away from others, and admit to only with the greatest reluctance. Or that’s what I’m trying to tell myself. Personally, I’d have been just as happy not to admit to a damn thing, but Kristy insisted. Not only did she insist, she informed me that “admitting” to watching Degrassi The Next Generation was not shameful enough. But what follows apparently shocked even Kristy:

I watched MTV’s Teen Mom.

All of it.

Yes, my name is Cammy and I made it a point to watch a reality show about teenagers who got knocked up and were dealing with kids.

My secret heresy is now revealed.

I don’t even know how it happened. As a general rule, I loathe and despise the reality TV genre entirely. All I know is that one evening I was surfing channels, it was there and I found myself being sucked into the vortex of Mama Drama.

Apparently the series is a follow-on to another MTV reality series, 16 And Pregnant (which, I would like to note, I did NOT see) which apparently followed these teen-aged Mommies through the wonders of morning sickness, swollen ankles and childbirth. I picked up with the post-delivery parade of problems. And drama there was. In copious quantities.

You have 4 girls. One of them had placed her baby up for adoption, one had a boyfriend who had all the empathy of a lump of granite, one with boyfriend drama of a flavor I can’t even begin to describe, and one with a family who was way more tolerant of her juvenile bullshit than I would have been. So why did I keep watching? I have no idea. More than once I was left shaking my head at the fact that teenagers who didn’t know what the hell they were doing were having kids when I know so many older people who would make excellent parents who can’t or don’t spawn.

A few times I was heartened. The girl (and her boyfriend) who really seemed the youngest and most recently out of childhood also seemed to be the most mature in their choice to give their daughter up. The volatile couple seemed to finally calm the hell down enough that I no longer think their child is guaranteed to be a delinquent. The girl with the emotionally vacant boyfriend finally left the bastard (though, at the end she was still spending too much time being bitter about him–honey, he ain’t worth the time). The only sad part was the little socialite who still doesn’t seem to grasp that she gave up her teen-party years when she got knocked up, and that her alleged lack of a social life and fun-time is so far from pity worthy when she has so many family members there to help care for her baby so she can continue school (something two of the other girls had to sacrifice). Most of it plays out exactly the way you would expect it to play out given the statistics out there: those romantic relationships bust up quickly under the stress of diaper changes and puke, schoolwork is put on hold for childcare, money is tight….

One of the bad things is that I wonder if my watching is somehow contributing to any form of glorification of the teen-mom state. While MTV may have tried to show the “ugly” side as a scare tactic, teenagers seem to be inherently stupid creatures and I know there will be a non-negligible percentage of them who will somehow manage not to see the downside of being a mom while in high school OR have the teenage arrogance to think that they wouldn’t handle it that badly, because ultimately I’m not sure the darkest of the dark really came out here. The long-term impact of missing out on education wasn’t there, for one thing.

The most shameful thing, however is this single fact: I’d totally watch it all again.

Thus concludes my confession. May the gods of good taste have mercy on my soul.

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