‘Teen Mom 3’ is as trashy as trash TV gets. Yet MTV’s guilty pleasure offers important lessons about pregnancy and stigma, writes Chanel Dubofsky.
The penultimate episode of MTV’s hit reality series “Teen Mom” aired this week. The show will be ending after four years, and the girls have gone from being small-town high school students to tabloid mainstays with new cars, houses and (in several cases) breasts. One of the four moms, Farrah Abraham, has since relocated from her native Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Fort Lauderdale with her toddler, Sophia, in tow. This season Farrah’s storyline has been about gaining independence, attending college and trying to get a boyfriend.
The third season of MTV’s hit series “16 and Pregnant” wrapped up last week. The show and its spinoff, “Teen Mom” — the third season of which begins next week — have become cultural flashpoints, spurring national conversations about everything from sex education to body image. While “Teen Mom” participants — girls from previous “16 and Pregnant” episodes — are a fairly homogenous bunch of mostly Caucasian youth, “16 and Pregnant,” which features a different young woman in each week’s episode, has featured a much more diverse array of young women.
For the past few days, I’ve been planning to write about a young woman from the “Teen Mom” series on MTV and her apparent suicide attempt. I’ve been pondering this genre of “teen fertility reality TV” for a long time, particularly whether there’s a genuine educational benefit and how that benefit might weigh against the toll the instant celebrity takes on the young, troubled women who are its stars.