Spotted in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly:
16 and Pregnant
This reality series, which focuses on a different teen each week, features cute, Juno-esque graphics. But unlike that fluffy comedy, 16 spotlights the struggles girls face — and what they're forced to give up — when having a child. It's a must-watch for sexually active teens everywhere. B+ —Tim Stack
Wanting to know more, I found this on the MTV Website:
16 and Pregnant is an hour-long documentary series focusing on the controversial subject of teen pregnancy. Each episode follows a 5-7 month period in the life of a teenager as she navigates the bumpy terrain of adolescence, growing pains, rebellion, and coming of age; all while dealing with being pregnant.
Each story offers a unique look into the wide variety of challenges pregnant teens face: marriage, adoption, religion, gossip, finances, rumors among the community, graduating high school, getting (or losing) a job. Faced with incredibly adult decisions, these girls are forced to sacrifice their teenage years and their high school experiences. But there is an optimism among them; they have the dedication to make their lives work, and to do as they see fit to provide the best for their babies.
I’ve watched the trailer twice and it’s like watching a plane crash or train wreck--sensationalistic, edited for drama and ratings, not reality, and of course there's a camera in everyone's face so how much is reality versus acting? The cast members in the trailer have twangy accents and one guy (I’m guessing a grandfather-to-be) was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, baseball cap, and sported a very long mullet...in other words, perpetuating the stereotype of an unwed young mother as trash. And yes, adoption is mentioned.
I wonder if the series sought out pregnant teens in affluent zip codes; probably not, because those teens have the means and access to pregnancy alternatives; besides, I doubt they (or their parents) would subject themselves to such public scrutiny.
I’m as uneasy about this series as I was the ABC series "Who's Your Daddy?” where a young woman had to guess which man was her birthfather à la The Bachelor (there were even red roses, it was...just creepy and unseemly. Thank God just the one show was aired). My gut reaction upon hearing of the program was shame on MTV, and what were those young girls and their families thinking, or not thinking?
An old friend of mine, an adoptive mother who facilitated my adoption support group for a decade, posted this comment on her facebook page last Sunday:
"[She] has observed a pregnant young girl (high school student?) in church who asks for God's care for her baby and herself. Today I congratulated her and her mother for planning to keep the baby -- told her that was the best for all! Tears came into the mother's eyes -- so I hugged her twice!”
I responded with, “Yay!...Yay Yay! If I were with you right now I’d squeeze you so hard I’d probably break a rib.”
I know many will disagree that it’s best for a 16-year-old mother to be a mother herself, but as we’ve discussed often and strongly here at FMF, relinquishment and its consequences are even more difficult.
I'm sure the news media will have plenty to say about 16 and Pregnant tomorrow, when the show premieres. So should we.--Linda
Lorraine here, adding that I think the show might actually do some good and get kids to be more careful sexually, i.e, use birth control. New mom Bristol Palin is now an advocate for teenager not having kids--of course, her answer is abstinence alone, which is unrealistic. Adoption for some of teen moms is going to happen; I won't be offended or put off if relinquishing a child for adoption is presented on the MTV show as the terrible terrible gut-wrenching, life changing event that it is. Will I watch? Probably check in and see how it hits me. And I might as well add, I thought even the incredibly tacky tacky Who's Your Daddy raised awareness of the need to end ALL RECORDS-CLOSED adoptions. A Good Thing. My original piece seems not to be available for free from Newsday, where it was originally published, but here is a thoughtful look at the whole situation that includes some of what I wrote by an adoptee writing in the UK.
Wednesday evening update: Here's what the NY Times says about the program.