secret-life-american-teenager-1 Show:The Secret Life of the American Teenager
FCC Rating: TV-14, D (for intensely suggestive dialogue
Airtime: Mon., 8PM ET on ABC Family
Ok for Ages: 13+
Hot Spots: Sex, sex and more sex

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).

secret-life-american-teenager-2 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


  1. Good review, Jane. One thing, though – when it comes to SLAT, I wish the acting was better….seriously, the kids in “DeGrassi” look Broadway-bound when compared to this crew. The girl that plays Ashley is particularly annoying. That being said, I think the interesting thing to note about SLAT is how much these kids tell their parents. I mean, in last night’s episode, Jack told Madison’s DAD they had oral sex. Could you imagine????

    • Thanks for the note, Mary, and yes! Oh so true on what the SLAT kids tell their parents. I don’t know what land they’re living in, but it sure isn’t conservative northern Michigan! I mean, I want my kids to tell me what’s going on in their lives, but I have no idea how I’d ever respond to that. I’m sure it would involve some sort of brain implosion – and then me grounding the kid for 30 years.

  2. Like I was telling a co-worker of mine from DISH, which has never seen the show but once and didn’t agree with it. The show is not about sex it’s about what kids have to go through and the possibilities of them becoming pregnant what the life is like. Being a teen mother I completely understand what the show is about. I wasn’t in high school when I became pregnant I actually graduated high school and became pregnant a come months after. Either way we all wish we have waited. After talking to my co-worker and showing her a couple episodes from she became more understanding. Teens have to deal with a lot and some time as parents we don’t understand them. I think with the parent in the show they give good advice. Letting the kids do what they have to and learning for their selves. We can’t stop them from everything.


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