When news that Jamie Lynn Spears was pregnant at 16 first broke back in December 2007, I suggested that Ms. Spears turn it into a teaching moment and film a reality spotlighting the hardships of being a teen mother.
Well, it’s been a long gestation period, but MTV has taken the idea and run with it in its new series, “16 and Pregnant.” The show glosses over nothing–30 hour labors! Inattentive teen fiancées! Destroyed social lives!–but never preaches stay abstinent or use protection. It’s “just the facts, ma’am,” but, boy, do those facts speak for themselves.
Take Maci and her boyfriend Ryan, the couple featured in the first episode. A good student, a cheerleader and a softball player, everyone is shocked when Maci announces she is pregnant. But the family soon rallies around her and the mood is general excitement, except for Ryan whose main concern seems to be filling his stomach with food and riding his dirt bike. He’s scared as can be (with good reason), and perhaps a bit disinterested, and you can see it all over his face.
Meanwhile Maci is working a job, attending community college, and recently quit her dance team in order to save money and care for Bentley, since Ryan doesn’t seem to be capable of changing dirty nappies shouldn’t be faced with such responsibilities, but as Maci notes, she had to step up to the plate, and she wishes Ryan would too. And so is the non-glamorous, hard-work, often dream-dashing reality of teen pregnancy.
This Thursday, Farrah, a popular cheerleader, finds herself facing single-motherhood with a mother urging her to put the baby up for adoption.
Once again, I need to applaud MTV for producing high-quality, dare I say important, television amongst its usual offering of sexual salespeople: from videos (yes, they do still play some) to reality shows, wherein hookups typically result in nothing more than bruised egos.
Watch Maci and Ryan’s episode.
“16 and Pregnant” airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on MTV.