Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Secret Life of The American Teenager

           The representations of teenagers are supposed to reflect, reinterpret, and recreate norms (Mayne).  The Secret Life of the American Teenager is a show that comes on ABC Family that is supposed to depict the life of the American teenager. I do not believe for one second that this depicts the life of a teenager. I believe that it is a very hypersexual view of adolescents. I will be discussing the first three or four episodes of Season three where Adrienne finds out that she is pregnant by Ben, which is Amy’s boyfriend.  This statement alone shows how this show depicts all of the teenagers to be hypersexual. In the show all the teenagers seem to be sleeping around and even though they are all friends they all eventually end up sleeping with each other. These students are supposedly in high school. Adrienne is not the first teenager to become pregnant in this community. Amy already has a child by Ricky and Ben is Amy’s ex-boyfriend. This just shows the “homie-smashing” mentality that is present within the television show.
When Adrienne found out that she was pregnant by Ben (Amy’s Boyfriend) she was interested in trying out all of her options. She looked into adoption as well as abortion. This reminds me of the “can-do girl” because she had several resources and was able to explore all of them. Adrienne, of course, did not choose the abortion due to the average “television break down” in the abortion clinic.  All of the teenagers in the series are presented as upper class. There are a couple black teenagers in the show but they are just as high class as the white teenagers. You don’t really see too many financial situations in the show. After Adrienne tells Ben that she is deciding to keep the baby, Ben then decided to try to do the “right” thing by proposing to Adrienne without even really genuinely liking her. This is so cliché because there are very few teenagers that are getting married however it is very typical for a young guy to propose because he thinks it will fix the situation.
                In the Secret Life of the American Teenager most of the teenagers are in relationships, which present the idea of sex as ok. Most of the couples in the show are having sex and when there is a couple that is trying to abstain from sex they are always looked at as innocent. Even though there are a few couples that are not sexually active. They are always trying to figure out when is a “perfect” time to change their sexual status. This, even though it isn’t sex, seems to be hyper sexual.
                The discourses of teenagers are minoritized and universalized in The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The discourses are minoritizing because the teenagers who are not very hyper sexual are treated different and are labeled as the “good girls” when this is not at all true. The girls that are not sexually active should be labeled as the norm instead of the outsider. The series universalizes sexuality among teenagers. I’m not sure if this is ok, but ABC Family covers for the hyper-sexuality by having a “teen pregnancy is 100% preventable” commercial on every commercial break.

(Sorry Guys I could not find Links)


  1. I haven't seen the show but I have heard a lot of crazy things. I agree 100 percent about how teenagers are portrayed as being so hypersexual in the media now-a-days. This show reminds me a lot of the show Hard times of RJ Berger, which shows teenagers as being extremely hypersexual as well. It's crazy how kids that are not sexually active have become so called outsiders, when it should be complete the opposite. P.S I can't stand when a girl "smashes the homie"!

  2. When I first saw the trailer for this show, I honestly thought that the show would do at least do a decent job in accurately representing teenagers and their relationships in this day in age. However, The Secret Life of the American Teenager did no such thing; instead, teens are represented as deviant, incredibly sexual individuals whose whole world revolves around sex. Even if there is a character who wishes to abstain from sex or wait until marriage, he or she is looked upon as being an outsider or a “goody two shoes.” I really don’t think that is how current high schoolers treat sex or individuals who chose not to have it; therefore, due to this show’s overdramatic tone and emphasis on sex and teen pregnancy, I honestly think it has one of the worst depictions of adolescents.

  3. My roommate watches this show and even she doesn't know why she watches it. She said it's kind of like a train wreck that you just cannot stop watching. This show must have had the "more is better" mentality, because as far as I have heard, there are either more STD's or more pregnancies (don't quote me, I can't remember which, if either, is true) as the show progresses. This is a very minoritizing view of teenagers, I agree with you. I don't think there is a satirical air around this show either that could explain why just about every teenager at that school is constantly having sex. This show not only is a poor representation of adolescents, it is a poor model for them, or any other age group for that matter.

  4. I agree with Natalie, I never can understand why teenage pregnancy shows are so popular. I feel like it encourages teenages girls to have sex and babies. Although this shows may be aimed to deter girls from engaging in sex and becoming pregnant, I feel it has backfired. I have also heard that teenage pregnancies have increased since shows like this and 16 & Pregnant. Shows like this continue to perpetuate stereotypes that teenage girls are promiscuous and irresponsible, thus taking away that teenagers can be and are responsible young adults.