Secret Life of the American Teenager | Teen Ink

Secret Life of the American Teenager

March 1, 2009
By Jessica Thomas BRONZE, Wichita, Kansas
Jessica Thomas BRONZE, Wichita, Kansas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

"Secret Life of the American Teenager" does not have the qualities that normally add up to a hit television show. The show's bad acting, unbelievable story lines, and characters that are way too interconnected make it almost difficult to watch. Yet somehow these factors make the show completely addicting. After watching the first episode, it is impossible to stop without knowing what will happen next.

"Secret Life of the American Teenager" began last summer on ABC Family, and has risen to the number one cable series in the time slot and the most-watched show on ABC Family.

With over three million viewers, "Secret Life" beat in ratings both "Gossip Girl" and "90210," the heavily promoted, basic cable television shows geared towards the same age demographic.

So now the question is: what's all the hype about? The premise of the show is actually very simple. Amy Juergens, a 15-year old French horn player played by Shailene Woodley, gets pregnant after a one night stand at band camp. The show revolves around Amy and the decisions she must make concerning her pregnancy and personal life.

Yet Amy is not the only significant character. The beauty of this show lies in the supporting cast that makes "Secret Life" interesting. Included in this ensemble are Amy's mother and father, who do nothing but argue, and a 13 year old sister who seems to be perpetually unhappy.

Also supporting Amy are her two best friends, who within the first episode tell the whole school about her pregnancy, and Ben, her new boyfriend.

Ben has to be the most confusing person on the show. In the first episode, he decides he likes Amy, and after two weeks of dating, is madly in love with her.

Amy then decides her best choice is to marry Ben. And no, he is not the baby's father. This is just one of the decisions that elicits a collective "What?!?" from the audiences- a reaction not uncommon when watching this show.

Ricky, the emotionally unavailable percussionist who gets Amy pregnant, and a slew of less important supporting characters make up the rest of the cast.

The best supporting character comes in the form of a perky blonde cheerleader named Grace, whose personal mission in life is to spread her Christian values to everyone in the school, including one stunt where she spends an entire episode doing everything in her power to ensure Amy does not get an abortion.

At times, it is impossible to tell if the writers are serious with Grace's lines, or if they know some of the things she says will be mocked.

While the characters spice up the plot, acting is of low quality. The actors are stiff and inexperienced, and none seem to know how real teenagers act.

Another factor that makes this show difficult to watch is that all the characters are so interconnected. To give a description of a character and their relationships is almost impossible because it is all woven into one big, complicated web.

Despite all its flaws, 'Secret Life' has managed to create a loyal following. With the comically earnest tone of the show, it is hard to tell whether viewers will be laughing or tearing up. One thing is for sure, though- they're watching.

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