MTV: Teen Pregnancy Meets Reality Television

Elisabeth Garber-Paul

It’s a far cry from the days when pregnant teens were packed up and sent away. Just a few decades ago, early pregnancy was seen as a stain on a family that was often elaborately hidden. But when reality television meets teen pregnancy, have we gone too far?

It’s a far cry from the days when pregnant teens were packed up and sent away. Just a few decades ago, early pregnancy was seen as a stain on a family that was often elaborately hidden. But when reality television meets teen pregnancy, have we gone too far?

According to a press release from MTV—purveyor of fine programming such as My Super Sweet 16 and Paris Hilton’s My New BFF—they will be premiering ‘16 And Pregnant’ on June 11. Six hour-long episodes will air this summer, according to a report from United Press International.

"‘MTV
has a long history of reflecting the lives of our viewers with
compelling reality stories,’ Tony DiSanto, MTV’s president of
programming, said in a statement. ‘16 & Pregnant’ follows the
journey of six young women going through an immensely life-changing
experience at such a young age. Each episode tells a new, unique story
and shows the real-life challenges they face from dealing with family
and friends to school and finances as new mothers. This is the real
secret life of an American teenager.’"

MTV’s
going to face a challenge here. I can’t say I’ve ever been pregnant,
but were I a sixteen year old soon-to-be-mother, the last thing I would
want is a crew of cameras documenting my every move. To me, it sounds
more traumatizing than the pregnancy. Depending on how the producers
approach it-I’m guessing this is of the serious, "True Life" brand of
docu-drama, not a manufactured situation based on competition-this
could make an uncomfortable time in their lives unbearable.

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On
the other hand, it’s encouraging to have a show discuss pregnancy in an
honest and open manner. Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to
Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told UPI that she applauded the
idea. "The stories in ’16 & Pregnant’ are full of hope, heartbreak,
and real-life consequences and should be a must viewing for teens
nationwide." And if it’s as honest and supportive as she seems to
think, perhaps it will be a constructive addition to the conversation.

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