ABC Family’s tagline these days is “a new kind of family” and, apparently, that includes families where the teenagers are having sex. Whether that mirrors real life or not, the network definitely seems to be going for an edgier vibe lately, leaning more towards The CW than the Disney Channel.
My daughter just turned 13, and she’s watched ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’ since the show premiered in 2008. But not all her friends are allowed to watch it, which is understandable. Every other word seems to be “sex,” and it’s a challenge to keep track of who’s sleeping with whom. Keep in mind that most of the characters on this show are teenagers (although their parents seem to have fairly active sex lives, too).
Maybe kids are having lots of sex, and that’s why the show has struck a chord with viewers. The first episode that aired in 2008 featured 15-year-old Amy Juergens (Shailene Woodley) discovering she’s pregnant after losing her virginity to Ricky Underwood (Daren Kagasoff) at band camp.
But even with that first episode, it wasn’t just about the teens of Grant High having sex. We learned that Ricky had spent time in a foster home thanks to his abusive dad, and this season, Amy was getting close to Ben (Ken Baumann), who had gotten close to Adrian (Francia Raisa) — too close, apparently, because Adrian learned she’s pregnant.
Although some of the dialogue is a little contrived, none of these characters, including the parents, are one-note. Life is complicated and messy. People make mistakes. Sometimes things happen that we wish hadn’t happened. But, like the folks on this show, you dust yourself off and figure out how to move forward.
Having baby John has certainly made life more complicated for Amy and Ricky. Amy wasn’t even sure she’d keep the baby at first, but things seemed to align themselves and she decided to keep him after all. And Ricky is no absentee father. He makes a point to spend time with John, stopping by to say good night and doing his best to be a good dad. It’s not a perfect situation, but few things in life are perfect.
Because of all that, I don’t mind that my daughter watches ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager.’ Let’s face it — our society seems to glorify sex, and teens feel pressured to do it. I would hope that this show is helping girls her age to realize that actions have consequences, and maybe sleeping with a guy when you’re still in high school isn’t the best decision. Getting pregnant not only has a major impact on the teens, but also all of their friends and family.
What’s your take? Do you let your kids watch ‘Secret Life’? Here’s a snippet from Season 4, Episode 6 – Let’s Try That Again:
Images: ABC Family