Super Sweet 16…and Pregnant

There are few shows I find myself hopelessly addicted to, which is good because I only get like 10 channels. But, there are a few reasons I miss cable. One of them is my fascination with pregnant teenagers.  I can’t miss an episode of Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant.

When 16 and Pregnant first came out, I thought to myself, They have enough pregnant teenagers willing to put their pregnancy on TV to make a whole series out of this? As I’ve now learned, there’s no shortage of teens who find themselves preggo and proud enough to be on MTV, and that’s a good thing:  What else would I do on a Tuesday night at 9?

The recipe for every episode of 16 and Pregnant is almost always the same:

  • Teen gets pregnant. Oops.

"Oh, crap."

  • Teen tells boyfriend, who:
    A. Runs away screaming
    B. Sticks around until the kid is born, and then runs away screaming or
    C. Asks her to marry him, at least attempting to make an honest woman out of her. (This usually ends catastrophically.)

Like this episode, which ended with this guy speeding away in a fit of rage with his twin infants in the back seat of his car, leaving his baby mama on the side of a busy road in the rain ...

  • Teen tells parents, who either:
    A. Freak out and disown her or
    B. Support her
  • Teen has kid
  • Teen realizes raising kid is harder than she thought
  • Show usually ends in tears

In this case, because Father of the Year ended their relationship via text message, calling her a "stretch-marked b****" and asking where he could "sign off" responsibility for their "mistake."

Teen Mom basically picks up where 16 & Pregnant leaves off, illustrating the way the young moms’ lives haven’t gotten any easier.

The shows are intended to be a form of birth control, providing a raw perspective into the unglamorous life of a teenaged mother. But many of the girls’ lives seem anything but unglamorous since their launch to celebrity status, featured on entertainment TV shows and in magazines. I can’t walk down an aisle in the grocery store without seeing headlines like “TEEN MOM’S PREGNANCY SHOCKER” and “SEE TEEN MOMS IN BIKINIS” (which, if I didn’t know better, might prevent me from opening the magazine).

Monsters, strange men, and felons! Oh, my!

As if we don’t get enough of drama-filled pregnancies between the tabloids and TV, each of the Teen Moms has countless Facebook fan pages, some official, and some … hardly. Hey, you go, girls. I’ll admit I’m a fan of them — I couldn’t do what they’re doing even in my early 20s. But these pages have grown to several thousands of fans who swarm every post the teen moms write with hundreds of comments, which usually turn into in virtual fan catfights. Meow.

The teen moms act annoyed with the amount of prying these fans are doing online, constantly sending them messages asking them to confirm or deny rumors they see in the tabloids. (And I hate to say it, but it kind of makes me think, Come on, you’re sorta asking for it.) In any case, the fame must not seem too bad, since others are jumping on the bandwagon.

In a recent incident, Jordan Ward, who was featured on the first episode of this season’s 16 and Pregnant, has just announced she’s pregnant with her and her husband’s second child … at 18. And her husband was just deployed with some branch of the military — or maybe he’s just gone for training. It’s hard to know for sure because she recently took down her official Facebook fan page that declared what she was doing every second of the day. (The link above is to her identical twin sister’s Facebook fan page … All of these things contributing to my point.)

Chelsea Houska, a South Dakota teen featured on 16 and Pregnant and later Teen Mom 2, battled baby daddy drama with the very public help of her friend and roommate Megan Nelson. (Who, by the way, gets the award for Friend of the Year. The 18 year-old not only lived with Chelsea and her baby, she helped out regularly, even occasionally giving up her weekends to babysit.)

Fans apparently enjoyed Megan on the show so much that they prompted her to create a Facebook fan page. Megan must have really caught baby fever living with Chelsea and her daughter because, not long after her rise to “fame,” it came out that Megan is pregnant herself. Her page now has over 23,000 fans, who clamor for every detail of her pregnancy, from the sex of the baby, to the name ideas, to details about the baby shower and where she is registered.

Megan’s dad now even has a Facebook page with over 1,000 fans, as well as other “randoms” who may or may not have appeared on the show for like 10 seconds. Some teen moms and fans have even set up fan pages for their babies.

But the really troubling thing is when average high school girls get pregnant and create fan pages for themselves. Since I first noticed this happening last fall, the teens have refrained from labeling them “fan pages,” making the fame whores a little harder to spot. (This was probably due to the blatant ridicule they endured by others on their public pages. I wish I had taken a screen shot.) A few girls placed themselves on the 16 and Pregnant Facebook page before the season started, tricking fans who thought these girls would be featured on the show into becoming fans of their personal pages.

Because that's what finding out you're pregnant when you're 16 looks like. OMG so fun!

Since then, teen mom “fan pages” have developed a semblance of a community support forum rather than a place to gain fame. Even Megan Nelson’s page now includes a disclaimer in the info section declaring that her page is NOT a fan page. (Although it used to proclaim it was in the page’s title.)

Of course, there are still countless pregnant teens who sneakily seek the kind of attention MTV’s teen moms are getting, like this couple who posts every detail about their pregnancy on their page, and frequently comments on the pages of the girls featured on MTV to gain traffic.

The fact that teen parents have a way to come together and support one another online is fabulous. And I’m not saying MTV is causing the teen birth rate to explode. (It’s actually doing the opposite.) I’m merely observing with surprise that a general air of “Meh, oh well,” has gradually increased toward the phenomenon of publicizing teen pregnancy. When I was in high school, people treated the few pregnant girls like they were diagnosed with a terminal illness — and that was only 3 years ago. But after 16 and Pregnant, girls in the situation can think, She did it. So can I. Still, I’m both loving and hating that the show has made teen pregnancy seem a little less scary. Especially since the days when this was preached:

Ahhhh!

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Oh, Gary.

I wanted this not to be true. I really did.

Oh, yes. It's Gary time.

Don’t ask how I stumbled upon this. I don’t even know. Maybe it came from trying to find when the next season of Teen Mom starts (with the original people). It starts July 5, by the way. But, alas, it’s Gary time.

If you’re a Teen Mom fan, or live with/date someone who is, you may remember Gary as the victim of domestic violence at the hands of Amber Portwood on the original season of 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom. Amber was recently in the news for dodging a 2-year jail sentence for the aforementioned domestic battery. Instead of jail, she’s been ordered to get her high school diploma, get some therapy, and set up a college fund with at least $10,000 for her daughter, Leah. Since when does our legal system allow stuff like that?

Best. Screen shot. Ever.

And then I find this Gary thing … I honestly did serious digging because I thought there was no way Gary’s official Facebook fan page would be selling shirts with his face on them. But, lo and behold, it appears to be him, saying it’s “ran [sic] in conjunction with Gary Shirley from MTV’s Teen Mom” and “therefore … is the sole official Facebook page.”

So he’s peddling t-shirts with his face on them. I’m not sure whether Gary and Amber are currently “on again” or “off again,” but at least Gary’s heart seems to be in the right place — His Facebook page declares that portion of the sale from each one of Gary’s shirts goes directly to their daughter, Leah. I guess if you’re going to whore out your face on a t-shirt, you might as well put some of the profits toward your kid.

For $20, all this could be yours.

Stoop kid’s afraid to leave his stoop. Maybe Jamie Lynn should have tried that.

Stoop Kid: A Hey Arnold! classic

Ah, yes. Nothing can soothe the savage college student like a little piece of nostalgia. Chances are, if your interest was piqued by that sentence, you’re a 90s kid, or the parent of one. And you know it came from an episode of Hey Arnold! You grew up on Nickelodeon at its prime. Who can forget shows like Doug, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Rocko’s Modern Life (my personal favorite — I own every episode ever made on DVD), and the ultimate classic, Rugrats (which — OMG — still has a maintained webpage on Nickelodeon’s site). Netflix one of these shows in a room full of 18-20somethings and we’re mesmerized in front of the boob tube with our mouths open, likely regressing to the same position we took while watching TV as kids.

The cartoon case of Doug

After engaging in the aforementioned activity not long ago, I couldn’t help but think about the striking difference between the episode of the always-wholesome Hey Arnold! I’d just watched and the shows my little sister, who’s 10, watches on a daily basis. Hey Arnold! and similar shows almost always incorporated some sort of life lesson into its silliness. Looking back, these messages held through into my adult years — In fact, everyday events sometimes still prompt me to reminisce about some TV show I used to watch as a kid. Whether it’s Rocko’s Modern Life’s satirical commentary on, well, modern life, or CatDog’s message of universal acceptance of those who are different.

I’ll admit, I’m a cartoon-lover. So, every time I visit home and am sharing the living room with my sister, I can’t help but get sucked in to whatever show she’s watching. Only, they’re hardly ever cartoons anymore. She went through a Zoey 101 phase a few years ago, until her favorite show was cancelled due to the star, Jamie Lynn Spears’s, teenage pregnancy. What a great role model for a then-5 year-old.

Don't make it sound too good, Jamie Lynn.

Then, she was addicted to Hannah Montana.

Hannah Montana was apparently the wholesome alter-ego.

Yeah, my point exactly.

Aside from most of these shows being mind-numbingly vomit-inducing, the demographics they appeal to are completely inappropriate. Shows like Hannah Montana and Zoey 101 deal with pre-teen issues, like shopping and makeup and dating boys. But the main age group these shows appeal to is 8-10 year-olds, and it definitely shows. My sister comes home from school with stories about her friends putting on makeup to go to movies with boys. They’re fourth-graders.

As if it isn’t bad enough that my little sister is singing along to the radio about “boys trying to touch her junk,” she’s got her role models, who are only 6-8 years older than her, getting knocked up and dancing on poles.

I’ve tried to turn my sister on to the cartoons I grew up with but, alas, she finds them boring. So much for that mode of sisterly bonding. I find she tries to have more things in common with me than I would ever expect of my 10 year-old sister. At age 10, I was still playing with Barbies and stuffed animals. While it’s fun to have a sister to talk with about painting nails and clothes shopping, it makes me a little sad that she’s growing up so much faster than I ever expected.

Super Sweet 16…and Pregnant

There are few shows I find myself hopelessly addicted to, which is good because I only get like 10 channels. But, there are a few reasons I miss cable. One of them is my fascination with pregnant teenagers.  I can’t miss an episode of Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant.

When 16 and Pregnant first came out, I thought to myself, They have enough pregnant teenagers willing to put their pregnancy on TV to make a whole series out of this? As I’ve now learned, there’s no shortage of teens who find themselves preggo and proud enough to be on MTV, and that’s a good thing:  What else would I do on a Tuesday night at 9?

The recipe for every episode of 16 and Pregnant is almost always the same:

  • Teen gets pregnant. Oops.

"Oh, crap."

  • Teen tells boyfriend, who:
    A. Runs away screaming
    B. Sticks around until the kid is born, and then runs away screaming or
    C. Asks her to marry him, at least attempting to make an honest woman out of her. (This usually ends catastrophically.)

Like this episode, which ended with this guy speeding away in a fit of rage with his twin infants in the back seat of his car, leaving his baby mama on the side of a busy road in the rain ...

  • Teen tells parents, who either:
    A. Freak out and disown her or
    B. Support her
  • Teen has kid
  • Teen realizes raising kid is harder than she thought
  • Show usually ends in tears

In this case, because Father of the Year ended their relationship via text message, calling her a "stretch-marked b****" and asking where he could "sign off" responsibility for their "mistake."

Teen Mom basically picks up where 16 & Pregnant leaves off, illustrating the way the young moms’ lives haven’t gotten any easier.

The shows are intended to be a form of birth control, providing a raw perspective into the unglamorous life of a teenaged mother. But many of the girls’ lives seem anything but unglamorous since their launch to celebrity status, featured on entertainment TV shows and in magazines. I can’t walk down an aisle in the grocery store without seeing headlines like “TEEN MOM’S PREGNANCY SHOCKER” and “SEE TEEN MOMS IN BIKINIS” (which, if I didn’t know better, might prevent me from opening the magazine).

Monsters, strange men, and felons! Oh, my!

As if we don’t get enough of drama-filled pregnancies between the tabloids and TV, each of the Teen Moms has countless Facebook fan pages, some official, and some … hardly. Hey, you go, girls. I’ll admit I’m a fan of them — I couldn’t do what they’re doing even in my early 20s. But these pages have grown to several thousands of fans who swarm every post the teen moms write with hundreds of comments, which usually turn into in virtual fan catfights. Meow.

The teen moms act annoyed with the amount of prying these fans are doing online, constantly sending them messages asking them to confirm or deny rumors they see in the tabloids. (And I hate to say it, but it kind of makes me think, Come on, you’re sorta asking for it.) In any case, the fame must not seem too bad, since others are jumping on the bandwagon.

Screenshot from Jordan Ward's fan page. Jordan was featured on the first episode of this season's 16 and Pregnant, and recently announced she's pregnant again with her second child at 18.

Chelsea Houska, a South Dakota teen featured on 16 and Pregnant and later Teen Mom 2, battled baby daddy drama with the very public help of her friend and roommate Megan Nelson. (Who, by the way, gets the award for Friend of the Year. The 18 year-old not only lived with Chelsea and her baby, she helped out regularly, even occasionally giving up her weekends to babysit.)

Fans apparently enjoyed Megan on the show so much that they prompted her to create a Facebook fan page. Megan must have really caught baby fever living with Chelsea and her daughter because, not long after her rise to “fame,” it came out that Megan is pregnant herself. Her page now has over 23,000 fans, who clamor for every detail of her pregnancy, from the sex of the baby, to the name ideas, to details about the baby shower and where she is registered.

Megan’s dad now even has a Facebook page with over 1,000 fans, as well as other “randoms” who may or may not have appeared on the show for like 10 seconds. Some teen moms and fans have even set up fan pages for their babies.

But the really troubling thing is when average high school girls get pregnant and create fan pages for themselves. Since I first noticed this happening last fall, the teens have refrained from labeling them “fan pages,” making the fame whores a little harder to spot. (This was probably due to the blatant ridicule they endured by others on their public pages. I wish I had taken a screen shot.) A few girls placed themselves on the 16 and Pregnant Facebook page before the season started, tricking fans who thought these girls would be featured on the show into becoming fans of their personal pages.

Because that's what finding out you're pregnant when you're 16 looks like. OMG so fun!

Since then, teen mom “fan pages” have developed a semblance of a community support forum rather than a place to gain fame. Even Megan Nelson’s page now includes a disclaimer in the info section declaring that her page is NOT a fan page. (Although it used to proclaim it was in the page’s title.)

Of course, there are still countless pregnant teens who sneakily seek the kind of attention MTV’s teen moms are getting, like this couple who posts every detail about their pregnancy on their page, and frequently comments on the pages of the girls featured on MTV to gain traffic.

The fact that teen parents have a way to come together and support one another online is fabulous. And I’m not saying MTV is causing the teen birth rate to explode. (It’s actually doing the opposite.) I’m merely observing with surprise that a general air of “Meh, oh well,” has gradually increased toward the phenomenon of publicizing teen pregnancy. When I was in high school, people treated the few pregnant girls like they were diagnosed with a terminal illness — and that was only 3 years ago. But after 16 and Pregnant, girls in the situation can think, She did it. So can I. Still, I’m both loving and hating that the show has made teen pregnancy seem a little less scary. Especially since the days when this was preached:

Ahhhh!