Monday, January 17, 2011

‘TEEN MOM’ Reality Show – Really?

By Kate Collins

‘Teen Mom,’ on MTV, has become a major hit, drawing 5.5 million viewers for last season’s finale. The show is supposed to portray the hardships of life as a teen mom and, as I understand it, should discourage teens from wanting to endure similar circumstances. But does it really?

Here are a few facts I learned by searching on line:

Paparazzi follow the teen moms everywhere, turning them into minor celebrities.
Teen magazines put their photos on the cover and write about them in their gossip columns, further creating the “celebrity” image.
Amber Portwood, one of the show’s four “star moms,” made $280,000 for being on the show and now wants to be a model.
Amber has been arrested for the domestic abuse of her baby’s father, spent time in jail, then later partied with her cellmate and paparazzi until she was drunk, all of which were covered in detail by most Internet news websites. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Seriously, is that supposed to discourage teens?

What this show, and other reality shows of the same genre, seem to do is to portray dysfunction in a way that makes it seem glamorous. But it’s still dysfunction, and it’s sending out the wrong message. That’s my opinion anyway.

What message do you think teenagers are getting from this show? Do you know teens who watch it? Are you a reality show junkie? (I’m not judging. My kids are, too.)


Katreader said...

I think it's slightly horrifying. It does promote teen pregnancy-or at least tries to glamorize it. I just read that in one high school 20% of the girls (yes, girls, not women) are pregnant or have had babies in the past year. And we the taxpayers are ultimately paying for it all. As for reality shows...I do watch a few-but the competition ones such as Top Chef, Worst Chefs in America...

Kristine said...

I have to admit that I follow the original cast. I was a teen mom myself, so I felt a real kinship with two of the girls on the show. I could understand the loss one felt, and I saw alot of myself in the other one at that age. Since I have made it to a wonderful life and am now happily married with a second child, I think I watch it b/c I want to see the same for them or at least know the two girls are going in that direction. Other than them, I will agree that the show's premise itself DOES indeed glamorize/glorify teen pregnancy; and it is a big concern. I am the parent of two boys, and my oldest (who's a teen) would never be allowed to watch it. He's in bed when I tune in, or I wouldn't. And I would like to think even if he did catch it on, he would've learned enough from our life early on to know teen pregnancy is no walk in the park like the show makes it out to be.

Leann Sweeney said...

I don't watch much reality TV anymore unless it's entertainment --like The Sing-Off or American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance. Making celebrities out of people who often need professional help of one kind or another is not entertaining to me. A teenage mother needs help, support, guidance and I'm not sure a TV show offers that.

Aurian said...

This show is not being copied yet here in Holland, but is sure sounds wrong. Why don't they show the difficulties, the problems these children have to face?
I never watch reality tv, almost no tv at all, as I have way too many books I want to read, and enjoy those more. You don't have to stay at home and watch something at a fixed time and so on.

signlady217 said...

I've never heard of this particular show, but I would not watch it. It sounds like there is too much focus on the "Hollywood" side of things, and not enough on the "real life" hardships that most teen moms experience.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was a teen Mom and while we supported her her life was not easy. I have not watched the show and from all I have heard it is not helping these girls.

I don't know if she watches the show or not. I do know that if my oldest grandson wanted to watche she would want to watch wit him. Of course he knows a lot of the problems she has had.

The most important thing for a teen mom is being able to get an education, whether it be at a regular high school or at night school and trying to improve her life.

My daughter was lucky in that our schools had a program for the girls and she was able to have a pretty normal high school experience. And after she went to our local community (at the time) college and then on to a university. She was determined to make something of herself.

I sure would not have allowed her to be on any show like the one on MTV.

The best day of my oldest grandson's life was the day his Mom got married. He had decided after only six months of dating that they should marry and it took another few years but they did. He now has a little brother 17 years younger than him and loves him to death.

I know that some of the girls that were also in the program at the high school have not done as well as my daughter. Mainly the ones that felt that the welfare money was the way to go so just kept having children and a program like mtv's sure would not help them.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I don't watch reality TV so I wasn't aware of this show. But I find it frightening. Simply frightening.

Debra said...

Like many parents in the 1950's,my folks were teen parents. It was really,really hard because you are not the same person at 25-30 as you were at 18. None of us are.
Do the teen-parents-to -be know what it feels like to be sleep-deprived for months? It was 10 months before my son slept through the night. Recently I told him about my fantasy when he was a baby. No it was not rated "X" or even "R".
I wanted to go to a hotel by myself,go to sleep when I wanted a and get up when rested. Compare that life to going to college where your room and meals are taken care of and all you have to do is go to class a couple of hours a day and study. No contest.

Kate Collins said...

What i found offensive about this show was how the dysfunction that is portrayed is made to seem normal. I could see a teen thinking, "Hmm. So I have a baby, get on a reality show, become a star, make money, and continue to live like a spoiled child. Sounds like a plan to me!" And how unreal that is for 99.999% of the teenaged population. I wonder how many teens now have career goals of becoming a reality TV star.

ev said...

I have seen clips of the show and have to admit that I was totally disgusted. Not because of the teen mom's, I spent too many years as a single parent and then working in Social Services for that to bother me. What bothers me is that they are glamorizing it in such a way that it's not stopping teen pregnancy but letting kids out there think that they can do the same thing and make it rich and famous. Does that make sense???

I'm no fan of the Real Housewives of where ever shows either. I think they are just as bad- I don't know many housewives that have they lives they do and all they do is bitch and complain when they break a nail. Makes me sick.

I do watch Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. There's a family that functions together, albiet in a better income bracket than everyone else, but acts normal, has morals (leaving Gene's tongue out of this), jobs and family values.

I have a strange criteria for the reality shows I do watch- they have to leave me with a good feeling, not sick to my stomache.

Bella said...

I haven't seen Teen Mom and I really don't intend to watch it. I think it's horrifying the message they are sending out to teens.

I'm not a big fan of the reality tv. Give me a good mystery on PBS anyday of the week instead.

Linda McDonald said...

I've never watched the show, but have heard about it and sounds terrible. I miss the days when MTV was MUSIC television and showed music videos. Do they ever show videos anymore, or is all just this reality show crappola?

Nicole K/GothamGal said...

At the beginning, I thought it was a great show--it doesn't show the glamourous side of things when families are torn apart or kids get sick or the like.
I think, quite honestly, it's a great show for families to watch--if not together, then discussed later. It's an opportunity for families to talk about relevant issues.
Sure, everyone wants to be famous and reality tv is making it that much easier, but I think it also shows that there ARE lessons to be learned, hard lessons.
And, teens should realize that 0.005 percent of teen mothers are shown on that show. That it's a totally preventable epidemic. Often times, the parents on the show didn't talk to their kids about what could happen, and if this show gets those conversations to happen, then I think it's great.
I have my own issues with the paparazzi and the glamorization of the reality show stars, but I think that Teen Mom is something that can get conversations going.