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October 7, 2015

Family TV Guide: 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager'

by Rich Keller, posted Apr 4th 2011 3:00PM
Two words to describe 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager': sex talk'The Secret Life of the American Teenager'
Network: ABC Family
Air Date: Mondays, 8PM ET
Starring: Shailene Woodley, India Eisley, Daren Kagasoff, Ken Baumann, Megan Park, Francia Raisa, Greg Finley, Renee Olstead, Molly Ringwald, Mark Derwin, Josie Bissett, Steve Schirripa, Jennifer Coolidge, Kathy Kinney
TV Rating: TV-14 D, for suggestive dialogue

What's It All About?
All it took was a one night stand at band camp to change Amy Juergens' life forever. Now with a young son, Amy spends her high school years as a teen mom while while trying to maintain a semblance of a normal teenage life.

That life has included a relationship with Ben, a supportive classmate who helped Amy through the rigors of her pregnancy until Ricky Underwood, the baby's father, came back into the picture. Once Amy found out Ben had impregnated a classmate of hers, Adrian, she tried to determine if a relationship with Ricky would be a worthwhile endeavor.

But Amy's not the only teen dealing with relationship issues on 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager.' There's a tangled web of sexual relationships that results in pregnancies, STIs or harsh breakups of couples and friends. All the while, the parents try to figure out the best way to deal with these 21st century teens. Needless to say, it is not an easy path to travel for any of them.

What the Family TV Guide Thinks
Created by Brenda Hampton, 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager' has the feel of her other very successful program: '7th Heaven.' The main difference, however, is that '7th Heaven' worked around the fringes of teen sex, and on 'Secret Life' it's the main focus. The characters talk about sex, think about sex, and try to determine when or when not to have sex by talking to their parents. There's so much talk it sometimes wants to make you lock up your own teenage son or daughter until they're much, much older!

That being said, the show doesn't glorify underage sex like other shows do. Being a Brenda Hampton production, there are consequences to every action. There's also a good deal of parental involvement with all of the major teen players on the show, which includes conversations on abstinence, pregnancy and the aftereffects of underage sex. This is truly a show for teenagers and older tweens to watch with their own parents.

Parental Concerns
'The Secret Life of the American Teenager' is rated TV-14 for explicit suggestive dialogue. Though, in truth, it's not suggestive at all -- they constantly talk about sex! It's the main focus of many conversations between all the characters. There are also instances of underage pregnancies, with Amy and Ricky being the first and now Adrian and Ben taking their place. It might be best for parents to review an episode or two before inviting their teens to watch.

Topics for Discussion
Teenage Pregnancy: The main crux of the series is that teenage pregnancy isn't glorified here. While it may be slightly sanitized, the pregnancy situations on 'Secret Life' are dealt with honesty. You may want to talk to your own teens about what they feel the consequences of a teenage pregnancy would be for them and their family.

Underage Sex: This goes hand-in-hand with the discussion of teenage pregnancy. Yes, today's teens are more mature than past generations, but that doesn't mean they know everything about sex. While it's a discussion no parent wants to have, talk to your kids about it after watching each episode. Find out if they know the consequences and how you would feel if they had sex.

Infidelity: For some reason, everyone cheats on everyone else on the ABC Family originals, and 'Secret Life' is no different. In the current season, Amy's parents, Anne and George, are now divorced after a relapse of cheating from George. Discussions with your teens should revolve around what they think marriage is all about and what makes a strong relationship.

If You Like 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager' You Might Also Enjoy: 'Make It or Break It,' 'Degrassi,' '90210,' 'Pretty Little Liars'

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"Yes, today's teens are more mature than past generations"

Really? A few generations ago people this age were married and working in mines or on farms, not pampered parasites still leeching off their parents.

April 04 2011 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BC's comment

Doesn't mean they were more mature in their thinking, BC.

April 04 2011 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anthony Vasca

Does anyone know if you can still watch this show through the TVDevo website? I know they offer a ton of live and on-demand TV for Windows and Mac, but not sure about this one??

April 04 2011 at 3:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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