A naïve french horn player, 15-year-old Amy Juergens finds herself pregnant after a one night fling with the womanizing high school band drummer Ricky. Shortly after, she meets a nice guy named Ben, who falls head over heels for her, and she is just as smitten with him.
Meanwhile, Ricky chases the girls but finds himself going back to Adrian, the high school baton twirler, time and time again. On the jock side, the bubbly and perfect Christian cheerleader Grace is dating the football star Jack. Trouble ensues as these lives intertwine. To complicate matters further, the parents are all facing issues of their own.
The Secret Life of the American Teenager is a television series on ABC Family that was created and is produced by Brenda Hampton, the creator of 7th Heaven, though this show is a far cry from her reverend family life drama. While 7th Heaven could be hard-hitting at times, the main characters didn’t lead such overly complicated lives. On The Secret Life of the American Teenager, the characters seem to complicate their own lives by making bad decision after bad decision.
However, you witness these characters make the best of tough situations. It’s encouraging to watch a drama where the characters make mistakes, but also work hard to fix them. They learn real compassion, love, and hard life lessons. Not only does this apply to the teenage characters, but to the adult characters as well.
Furthermore, the realistic portrayal of teenage life (including dating, sex, and pregnancy) is sure to be an eye opener to parents. It serves as a reminder that the life of a teenager is full of stress and is much more difficult than it was even a generation ago. True to Brenda Hampton’s form, the show somehow manages to leave you feeling good, as did 7th Heaven, despite the drama and difficult decisions the characters face.
Overall it can be concluded that the good parenting displayed creates the positive impression. While the parent characters are far from perfect in their own lives, their well intentioned efforts are admirable as they guide their teenagers through the crazy roller coaster of decisions, consequences, peer pressure, and academics.
While this television show is much more open and blunt about sex and dysfunctional relationships than 7th Heaven, it does serve a higher purpose than being a teenage drama that is borderline soap opera. The issues are brought out into the open, the natural consequences of choices are portrayed, and many educational facts are tied into each story line, without being so obvious that teenagers watching would feel like they are being preached at.
This show is likely to get teenagers talking with their parents and peers. Best of all, they’ll be geared with more information and a higher awareness of consequences than ever before just from watching this show. While it could be argued that shows like this make teenage pregnancy look glamorous, The Secret Life of the American Teenager makes it very clear that having sex as a teenager only complicates your life and limits your options. The good intentions of this show are likely to reach far and wide.
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