Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review: Secret Life of the American Teenager Season 2

The “secret lives” of these “American teenagers” aren’t so secret. 15 year old Amy (Shailene Woodley) is pregnant. Amy’s parents are getting a divorce, and Amy’s boyfriend, Ben (Ken Baumann), struggles to find his place in Amy’s and the coming baby’s life. Ben and Amy want to get married. The father of the baby, Ricky (Daren Kagasoff), is sleeping with Adrian (Francia Raisa) who is sleeping with her step-brother. Ricky’s sexually abusive father wants to cash in on Amy’s baby. Ricky’s Christian girlfriend, Grace (Megan Park), is really in love with Jack (Greg Finley), and refuses to have sex before marriage. Grace’s mentally disabled brother wants to marry his new girlfriend after only one date. Meanwhile, high school students Henry (Allen Evangelista) and Alice (Amy Rider) are sleeping together.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager revolves around one thing: SEX. Characters struggle to balance high school, dating, and, of course, the hot topic of sex (although viewers never see characters actually having sex). Gossip resounds in the halls of the institution known as high school, and melodramas erupt. Soap opera for teenagers, it’s no wonder that this show has lasted for two full seasons. People like drama, and they’ll definitely find it in American Teenager.

But beyond the seemingly mindless and unending soap opera drama, American Teenager has heart. Despite the bad acting and the sometimes boring script, the show deals with real issues that many teenagers face on a daily basis. While some parts may offend conservatives – a gay couple wants to raise Amy’s baby and a Christian family doesn’t put the most positive light on Christianity – Amy’s story, connected to the stories of those around her, rings true. She learns to accept responsibility for her actions, Ben learns that he can support Amy without becoming her husband just yet, and Ricky learns that he is not his father. Meanwhile, there are plenty of laughs in store for viewers with characters like Amy’s sarcastic sister’s dry sense of humor and Amy’s father’s “delight in vexing” his soon to be ex-wife’s nerves.

As with any television show, American Teenager takes the viewer on a journey. As the characters come together in the hospital to await the arrival of the new baby, they realize that they are all connected in one way or another to Amy and the situations that have surrounded her pregnancy. The viewer, too, connects with the characters and the stories they tell.

The complete second season DVD comes with a music video recapping the first season, “Character Secrets” – in which cast members talk about the plot of the show, and “Cast Close-Ups” – in which a random young girl (who doesn’t have the best interview skills) asks cast members about their own “secret lives.”

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