Idol Chatter

zoey101.jpgFor the past few days bloggerati the world over have been consumed with covering Jamie Lynn Spears’ recently announced pregnancy; this blog included. And while many muse about the Nickelodeon star not learning valuable lessons from Britney’s missteps and potentially ruining a considerable career, other news outlets, such as the New York Times, are trumpeting that parents and children are engaging in a new round of frank, sex talk; something that both parents and children dread, but is phenomenally important.
But I say take this new more open environment even further and give Jamie Lynn her own reality show – show teens what it’s like to be an unwed, 16-year old mother. Nickelodeon says it is talking with “Nick News” host Linda Ellerbee about producing a special on the issue of teen pregnancy, but while I love Ellerbee and she’s genius with the kids, a reality show may drive the message home better with its unique blend of edutainment.

Sure, Spears’ family is financially more able to handle an unexpected pregnancy, but Jamie Lynn’s fears will be as real as any other expectant teen mother’s and the possible reactions to pending motherhood the same – guilt, depression, denial. And if, as she says, she wants to tell teens not to engage in premarital sex, then this is the perfect platform. Heck, I know when, as a preteen, I saw a filmstrip of a woman going through natural childbirth, I decided then and there that pregnancy was not on any of my immediate “to do” lists. There didn’t seem to be anything “natural” about it, frankly; painful and traumatic, most definitely.
I’m not saying that we should witness Ms. Spears give birth (although, can you imagine those ratings?), but Nickelodeon should hire the producers of MTV’s “True Life” series, or the documentary-directing Naudet brothers, to produce a gritty, cinema verite-style show that uncovers what it’s like to be a teen mother. Perhaps Nickelodeon would air it later at night due to the mature content, but it’s Nick’s demographic that needs to watch and learn … and apparently its stars, too.Sure, it would be controversial, but so was “Degrassi Junior High” when, in 1987, the Canadian show featured a storyline in which 14-year old Spike gets pregnant after having sex for the first time and decides to raise the baby. That episode not only went on to win the series an Emmy, but is now recommended parent-child viewing by pediatricians.
According to the aforementioned New York Times’ article, older sisters are now worried that their younger sisters who idealize the perfect and perky Zoey character, and the actress who plays her, “might think it was ‘cool’ to be 16 and pregnant.” I say, let’s show them the reality.

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