This is another post I have up on Jump off the Bridge for the Blogathon. I've been blogging for almost 24 hours now to raise money for READ Foundation.
I have to admit that I had zero interest in watching 16 & Pregnant when I learned about it. MTV is all about reality tv nowadays, and a lot of it is crap, so I just assumed this would be too. But people were posting about the show all over the blogosphere, and I started to get curious. So I set my DVR and decided to watch some of the episodes.
To say that I have mixed feelings about this show is an understatement.
My initial discomfort came from getting the sense that this might glorify teen pregnancy. But, considering the fact that the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world, I suppose we need to just keep trying things until they work. Still, there is a bit of a sense that everything will turn out okay with these teen parents that might be misleading and not make for much of a deterrent.
I was then bothered by what other bloggers noticed as well, the fact that abortion and adoption were not being considered as practical options. I understand that the sponsors probably wouldn't be too thrilled about portraying abortion as an option for any age, and certainly not for teens. But it's reality. Isn't reality tv supposed to, you know, represent reality? Okay, no, I guess not...
To be fair, I did watch one episode where the teen couple ended up giving their baby up for adoption. It was actually my favorite episode because it showed the struggle over the decision itself, in addition to all of the other aspects of the teen pregnancy. But then I thought, what if it was too negative? Will people forget about adoption as an option because it's too painful? Reactions on twitter while the episode was on mostly commented on how sad the episode was.
It's really a big balancing act, but ultimately I think the series could do a better job. I'm not sure if there is another season planned but if there is, I hope they take it as an opportunity to highlight teens from various backgrounds in the hopes that it provides a richer range of perspectives.
All of that said, I did enjoy watching the show. It wasn't full of the unnecessary drama that often comes with reality shows on MTV. I was sort of expecting Sweet 16 with a bun in the oven, but it seemed much more genuine than that.
(Originally posted at Jump off the Bridge.)