16 & Pregnant
April 26, 2010 § 2 Comments
I do not like TV. And if I watch TV, it’s either TV on DVD or TV on the internet, like hulu. Commercials annoy me and the constant advertising and changing jingles and ups and downs on the volume gives me a migraine. So I just opt out of it. I don’t ever watch it. And it’s not that hard to do in my apartment since we have one of those HD converter boxes so when we decide to watch TV the channel constantly freezes or skips or goes out all together due to the converter. And we only have about ten channels, three of those are in spanish, two are religious, and one is a shopping network.
But when I go home I tend to watch more TV than I normally do, mostly because my parents have DirectTV so there are a lot more options, and mostly because my parents don’t watch movies. So I watch things like The Mentalist or Miami Medical or Numb3rs with my mother and occasionally my father.
So this past weekend when I was home, in the spare bedroom, I flicked on the tube and started watching the new season of Say Yes to the Dress–working at David’s Bridal for six months, I can totally relate to the show–and Four Weddings–cause really I’m just jealous those girls are getting married and I’m not–while talking to my faraway fiance on the phone. But what really caught and held my attention was MTV’s 16 & Pregnant.
I hate TV. And more than I hate TV I hate MTV. I think it’s lousy, vulgar, obscene, and way too mind-numbing to be considered good television. All MTV is good for is to play music videos and update us about artists and such, but it has come a long way from that for sure, with The Hills and Jackass and Real World and other stupid “reality” TV shows.
But there is something about 16 & Pregnant that I just couldn’t turn off the television, even though the advertisements drove me crazy.
Okay, for those of you who don’t know the concept of the show here’s the breakdown: a 16 year old girl gets pregnant, MTV follows her around during her pregnancy and the 2-3 months afterward, edits all the material into a one hour (or really 40 minute) TV show and airs it.
The concept is so simple it’s kind of dumb, and the idea that people would be interested in it is just so odd to me. And truth be told, it so does not show my generation, or their generation, in a very good light. I want to wring MTV by the neck and scream, “We are not all teenage mothers! Some of us have a lot more common sense!” But I don’t think they’d listen. Instead, they go around showing the angst of teenage motherhood.
But after watching the show for about five minutes, I became absolutely hooked. And I’m not quite sure why. I know it’s not the soon-to-be-married part of me that yearns for a child, because I am most definitely not ready for a baby, and I know it’s not the “reality TV” that I love to watch, because I hate reality TV. But there are something in these real-life characters that five minutes of watching I vicariously invest in their lives. Some of them I want to reach into the TV and shake them saying, “Wake up, Stupid! Stop being an idiot!” and some of them I want to reach into the TV and put a comforting arm around them, smooth their hair, and calmly say, “Stop being an idiot, okay?” Because, let’s face it, getting pregnant at 16 is really not the smartest thing in the world, and can totally be prevented by good parenting and common sense, and keeping the baby for yourself is more stupid than having it in the first place I think.
Okay so I’m definitely not here to stereotype or criticize, that is not the point of this blog. I think the whole idea of the show is to depict how hard it is for teenage mothers. These girls have to drop out of school, give up their lives, and realize the world no longer revolves around them while they are forced to grow up way too soon. And I’m not quite sure who the targeted audience is. Teenage girls? Mothers of teenage girls? Friends of teenage girls?
But as a 22 year old soon to be college graduate and wife, I want to take these girls into my home and let them know that everything really will be okay, that I’m sorry they have to go through this, and that really you need some good role model to tell you all about the common sense that you’re lacking. And I’m not talking about how they stupidly got pregnant at 16, but about how they naively believe that the guy will always stick with them, that they really can do this by themselves, that it’s no big deal to have a child and still continue doing the high school-y things they always did. I think that MTV has certainly shown audiences how tough it is to be a teenage mother, but I don’t think they do a great job of showing us how tough it is to be teenagers, much less a teenage girl.
At the end of the show, the girl talks about what she’s learned from this experience, and though I have not seen every single episode, every girl I have seen talks about how sure, they would’ve waited had they known this would happen and how hard it is to have to take care of someone when she is so young, but that having a baby has been one of the greatest things and they wouldn’t take it back for anything.
So it seems as if MTV is teaching us that of course it’s hard, but at the same time it can be really cool. And when they aired the life after pregnancy show with all the girls from the season talking about their pregnancies and their babies, the host mentioned how we should go online and research birth control and methods so this won’t happen to you.
But if I was 16, and I watched this show, to be honest I almost think I would rather go out and have a baby than to try to prevent it. Because apparently its just so cool. And hey, I might even be on TV.
I still don’t like TV, and I definitely still hate MTV, maybe more than I used to, but I think there is something to be gained from this show. That no matter what age you are–16, 22, 45–being a mother forces you to grow up, take on new responsibilities, realize the world doesn’t revolve around you, and to show that it is exceptionally hard to take care of a living thing. I just wish MTV did a better job telling teenagers that this is not a good idea, that they should wait, why it’s a good idea to wait, and how much healthier their own lives could be. Because they’re getting pregnant and having sex and not having common sense because they just haven’t been taught or told any better. Or maybe MTV should at least air a series showing how that generation is not all stupid and naive.