"When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships." - Andy Warhol

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No secrets here

It’s hard for me to write about this. The fact that I watch this show is something I generally try to keep under wraps because I’m not comfortable with what it may imply about my taste in entertainment.

But in the spirit of using a blog as a forum for open, honest communication, I’ll let you in on my secret – I watch The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

I was initially drawn to the show because I wanted to see how teenage pregnancy was framed on a TV show that’s aired on a network with the word “family” in its name (ABC Family).

I’ve seen pregnancy portrayed on TV before – but a show about a somewhat nerdy, shy, bank geek getting pregnant? While it’s probably a common scenario in real life, in the entertainment world, it was unique enough to attract my attention.

The first few episodes I caught of Secret Life piqued my interest because the main character (and teen mom), Amy, seemed like one of the least likely candidates to be a teen mother.

Just like Amy, I was a serious, well-behaved student in high school myself, so I could relate (well, to a point, anyway).

The buzz word

The first season I tuned into Secret Life (and subjected my husband to it), we made a game out of counting how many times the characters said the word “sex.”

The frequency of this word in the show’s repetitive, inane dialogue was astounding! It was almost as if the show counted on hormonal teen viewers being so excited by the word that nobody would notice the absurdity of the show’s story lines.

Yet, I continued to watch. (Sigh. I still watch).

Shocked by Secret Life?!

The episode I recently watched, season 4, episode 23, surprised me. Sure, the characters always talk about sex. And viewers can occasionally catch a glimpse of Amy kissing Ricky or Adrian seducing Ben, Ricky, Omar, etc. (take your pick – she’s a busy girl).

But I was surprised to see an unabashed kissing scene between two of the main female characters, Grace and Adrian. The scene didn’t come across as sleazy or indecent; rather, it adeptly portrayed what the characters were allegedly feeling – curious and scared of the unknown.

As the story line advanced, I’m surprised to say that I developed a new level of respect for the show. In the midst of story lines featuring teens making bad decisions about the usual – relationships, personal conduct, and future plans – the show is touching upon a reality that many teens may actually be facing: questioning their sexuality.

And in a show where “sex” is said at least three times a minute (an estimate), it’s commendable that the topic isn’t limited to heterosexual activity.

Exploring all aspects of life

I’m not a teenager anymore (whew!), but I feel for those who are. And if Secret Life (in any tiny, minuscule, infinitesimal way) touches upon issues that real teens are grappling with, I’m glad the show isn’t shying away from sexual exploration.

Delving into the potential ramifications – from popularity and attention (wanted or unwanted) to ostracism – of bisexual and/or homosexual behavior in high school takes guts.

And while Secret Life will probably always be associated with words like adolescent, dense, and uncultivated, I’m glad that “gutsy” is an adjective that can be added to the mix.


  1. Appreciate the review even though I am far removed from the target demographic for this show and have never seen it. Love Mom

  2. For the record, I was in adjacent room while she watched the show and could just hear all the repetitive words. I did not sit down and watch. Sex is the worst repeated word, but in general, about the words, the writers often seen to focus on one word in a scene, and that word they repeat a dozen times until the word gets suck in your head. the next scene they chose a new word, and repeat that word......word.....word....... ahhhh