ABC Family recently premiered a new show called The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a family oriented show that, refreshingly, talks openly and directly about issues surrounding teen sex and pregnancy. Despite the potential pitfall of stereotyped characters, the acting is believable, the writing magnificently real and oftentimes hilarious, and the underlying moral messages quite agreeable to my personal taste.
Why would I watch such a show, clearly targeted to an audience several years younger than myself? It all started while I watched through the 4th season of Wildfire on ABC Family’s website a few weeks ago - every “commercial break” they play an ad... except they literally only had three ads, which, after 13 episodes and 5 ad breaks per episode, became quite old really quickly. Anyway, after seeing the add for TSLOTAT no fewer than two dozen times in a three or four day period, I was tempted enough to check it out - it looked entertaining, and I typically like “chick-flick” type TV shows anyway.
What I loved most about the pilot episode was the writing. Seriously, I wish I could talk like these characters on the fly in real life, especially Ben - even in his awkward telephone moments he ends up saying something either profound or at least potentially meaningful. I also greatly appreciated one of the very first lines that Amy’s character says near the beginning: “I had sex.... It was not that great.... And it wasn’t fun and definitely not like what you see in the movies, you know all romantic and stuff.” Despite wearing its motives on its sleeve (to adapt a cliché), I greatly enjoyed how open TSLOTAT was at making such an anti-cultural statement. It’s high time television took a more realistic and less idealistic tact toward real-life issues of teen sex and teen pregnancies. Which is why I also appreciated the PSA-style monologue Amy’s actor delivers at the end of the episode, a well-scripted paragraph something to the effect of ‘teenage pregnancy is 100% avoidable.” Because it is. Regardless of one’s views on abstinence-only education, that fact remains, there is a simple solution.
On lighter notes, I also absolutely love Ben’s friends Alice and Henry - they are so hilarious! Every time they appear on screen, I know I’ll laugh. Alice is a 100% straight shooter, she acts as the dictionary pop-up-video with facts about everything Ben and Henry might banter about; and Henry serves as one wonderfully delightful (and friendly) foil to Ben through making bets that force Ben into action.
Thanks to a really good friend (someone who is even more addicted to the show than I; yes, I’m not the only one who loves it), I’ve finally caught up to the current episode, which means Tuesdays at 7:00, I’ll be on my couch watching ABC Family... except for tomorrow, when I have to work at that specific time to tech an event at school. Alas.