Is It Weird for An Adult to Be Obsessed With ‘Teen Mom’?

Plenty of people my age watch trashy reality fare like Rock of Love, but there’s one show I feel sort of ashamed to call my appointment television: MTV’s Teen Mom. Why am I so riveted by a show that’s about 18 year olds with babies? Two reasons: one, because it’s the exact opposite of my life; and two, because it’s dangerously close to what my life could have been if I’d made one or two decisions differently.

Like many of the girls on Teen Mom (and its companion series, 16 and Pregnant), I grew up in a medium-sized town and attended a school that didn’t teach us about sexuality, contraception, or STDs. Of all the moms on the show, I’d say my own background was the most similar to Maci’s – middle class family in a Southern town. There were many Macis, and Ambers, and Catelynns in my high school. Like Maci, I also dated an older guy who was already out of school and working. Like Farrah, I equated sex with being cool. And like almost all the girls on the show, I didn’t have access to birth control or much information about it.

What was it that kept me from having sex with my high school boyfriend and, possibly, getting pregnant as a teenager? It wasn’t the abstinence education policy at my school. If anything, it was the fact that there were several pregnant girls in my class, and that I was terrified of being one of them. I saw how “Karen”‘s boyfriend left her as soon as she found out she was pregnant. I saw how eight months pregnant “Debbie” walked down the aisle at graduation with her high school diploma and nobody clapped for her. I saw how “Julie” made her best friend promise not to tell anyone she’d got an abortion and then showed up at school the next day with “Baby Killer” written on her locker. I didn’t know much about sex, but I knew enough to know I didn’t know. That sense of fear – or was it shame? – kept me from becoming sexually active in my teens.

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    • Faith

      I know exactly what you mean, and that’s the same reason I watch it. Maci reminds me of a lot of the girls in my North Carolina high school, and that familiarity keeps me totally engaged with how she’s doing.

    • Lilly

      Thank you for this article! I also watch this show for very personal reasons. I ended up getting pregnant at 16 and choosing not to keep the child, and I am now lucky to be a 25 year old professional working towards her MBA. Watching Teen Mom lets me see into the life that I could have had. These girls are much stronger than I ever could have been, and I applaud them for that.

    • Kendra

      Not weird. I like it. A lot of my friends like it. It’s good TV.

    • Elle

      Really? You’d never heard of condoms in high school? I honestly think when kids say that it’s just a bullshit for not wanting to take responsibility, because I knew what condoms were by 4th grade, and condoms are just common sense. Even if your parents never told you, everyone still knows what they are from tv, friends, etc.

      • Lilit Marcus

        Had I heard of them? Yes. Did they have them at my high school? No. Did my town have more than one place to buy them, where you weren’t afraid of someone from school seeing you? No. Did I have a car to drive to Planned Parenthood? No. Was there public transportation to get to the Planned Parenthood? No.

        Information is one thing, but access is totally another. That’s the problem with a lot of small towns – you can have all the information in the world, but if condoms/birth control are difficult to obtain safely, that information doesn’t help you much. Where do the four Teen Moms on this show live? Indiana (Amber), Iowa (Farrah), Tennessee (Maci), and Michigan (Catelynn). They’re not in urban areas, where it’s easy to choose from multiple clinics or find public transport. And before the internet (which is great, but still not available to everyone), it was a lot harder to find messages or accurate information about condoms/contraception on TV.

      • avecjambon

        yeah I’d rather get pregnant as a teen and then raise a child for the next 18+ years than have someone see me purchasing condoms too….

      • Jill

        Wow, but that’s the point.. she is saying she didn’t have access so she practiced abstinence instead… and she is STILL getting attacked? Wow. Tough crowd.

    • sandy

      I’m fifty five and I watch every episode … and have from the beginning … so it’s not weird for adults to watch ..