Sunday, August 24, 2008

Terrifying Television

What’s the most terrifying show on television? Is it a show on SciFi channel? Is it a new HBO or Showtime project where they don’t have to worry about network censorship? No. If you are the mother of a teenager, like me, hands down the most terrifying show is ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

It’s ironic how so many of ABC Family’s shows have disclaimers at the beginning regarding their mature content. This show follows the life of Amy Juergens (Shailiene Woodley), a fifteen year old high school student who loses her virginity at summer band camp and ends up pregnant.

The writers and actors do a wonderful job making you care about this girl. You feel her anguish and various stages of denial, panic, and acceptance. The casting is also pitch perfect in that this girl looks fifteen. She’s not all glossed up like the stars of Gossip Girl. She’s a fresh faced cutie that reminds you what fifteen looks like…way too young to be having a baby!

The other characters help round out a juicy teen soap-opera as we observe the diorama of high school. Miss Perfect, The Playboy, The Jock, The Slut, The Lovesick Puppy Boy and the gossipy best friends are all represented.

Initially, the draw to the show was the casting of Molly Ringwald. This is a nasty little trick which would ensure viewership. Naturally, all of us 80’s moms want to tune in to see how she’s doing. After six episodes the story has yet to shift much focus to her character, but the dissolution of her character’s marriage and impending grandmahood should give her something to sink her teeth into soon. As for catching up with Ms. Ringwald, I applaud her for looking like a forty year old woman. More mature, curvy and still fiery red, Meg Ryan can take some tips by seeing that you can grow into your cuteness without going under the knife or going overboard with the Botox.

This is a solid show worthy of one of the big networks, but these days it seems like you are more often turning to basic cable to find shows that go out on a limb. Time will tell if this show can have staying power. The impact of the situation initially draws you in, but you’ll need strong character development in order to tune in once the baby comes. For now, I’ll keep watching, even though I’m sitting white knuckled the whole time.

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