Pop Culture

“Teen Mom 3”: When “Teen Mom” and “Teen Mom 2” Just Aren’t Enough!

MTV, not happy with exploiting just eight young women on the Teen Mom franchise, are adding more to the roster!  

On Monday, the network announced that after the fourth season of 16 & Pregnant airs (it starts March 27), Teen Mom 3 will premiere, most likely with cast members from that 16 & Pregnant (pity the poor girls from season three, who didn’t get a chance to move onto Teen Mom!).

I can see why MTV executives decided to run with the original Teen Mom. The first season of 16 & Pregnant (which was the only time I watched) was a rather compelling look at teenage pregnancy. It seemed to be fairly realistic, and while the show didn’t cover abortion, there was a couple that chose adoption for their daughter. I never found any of the girls to be glamorizing pregnancy or young motherhood, and it actually kind of made sense to continue following them, to show what happens as lives change and children grow.

But, just a few years later, I don’t know how in good conscious MTV can allow this franchise to continue. The first Teen Mom had some redeeming qualities when it started, in that it actually showed the struggles of an education getting derailed by a baby, the way young parents have to deal with raising a child together, etc. The main problem with this edition is that it also stars Amber Portwood, who was caught on camera punching her on-again, off-again boyfriend Gary, and has been facing the repercussions ever since. Recently, she’s been in rehab, and for both her sake and her young daughter, I really hope that she gets better.

Teen Mom 2 just didn’t have the same feel as Teen Mom. I’ve only watched a few episodes, but I see the girls on the covers of In Touch and OK! every time I’m at the grocery store. The focus this time around seems to be the salaciousness of their lives – Leah is cheating on her husband! Janelle is a pothead! Instead of focusing on the girls and their relationships with their children, the show is really more about their own behavior, and of course, the focus is on the negative. It might as well be called The Bad Girls Club: Teen Mom Edition. It doesn’t help that the reunion shows are moderated by Dr. Drew, who seems to point out every single thing the girls have done wrong, without ever focusing on the wrongs – and there are many! – that the men in their lives have made. It is infuriating.

Is that what they are going to do with the cast of Teen Mom 3? And if so, what is the point? We already know about the plight of eight Teen Moms, how are four more going to enlighten us? According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Teen Mom 2 season premiere had the highest ratings ever for the franchise, so when it comes down to it, MTV is just betting on big ratings and revenue from condom ads to carry the show.

As far as I’m concerned, all of these incarnations need to ride off into the sunset. Any lessons that could be learned were made clear during the first season, and now it’s just about getting on magazine covers. I can only imagine seeing the stars of Middle-aged Mom on the cover of Us Weekly when I’m 50, and I don’t like it.

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

18 replies on ““Teen Mom 3”: When “Teen Mom” and “Teen Mom 2” Just Aren’t Enough!”

You know, I’ve never seen these shows. But I feel for people that watch them religiously.

I can’t deny the feeling that watching trashy reality tv is really bad for the soul. Just putting it out there. Especially ones like these, where the girls are too young to really know what being on a reality show means. Reality tv really hurts these girls, in my opinion.

I think there are two types of “trash television”: the fun, not-serious-whatsoever kind (shows like Jerseylicious, for example) and then something like Teen Mom. When you turn off the TV after watching the “fun” type of show, you got the escape you were looking for, and you don’t feel terrible about yourself (or the cast).

I think the whole franchise has given me a better perspective on where I was at that age.

I thought I was smart and had my shit together. I didn’t. Seeing the mistakes that the girls on Teen Mom 2 make is hard to watch, but I know that I would have done the same thing at that age. Hopefully, viewing the situation from the outside will help teenage girls realize that a boyfriend doesn’t solve all of their problems and that some dudes are assholes that should be ditched. I could have used that perspective at that age.

You could not pay me any amount of money to be on a reality show. I realize that my life of getting in my pajamas before 8pm and screaming at my zits in the mirror would hardly make for riveting television, but nevertheless, it seems like everyone who ever goes on a reality show ends up destroying their lives. Human beings weren’t meant to be watched, scrutinized and be “on” all the time. However, in this case I cannot fault the girls. I think a lot of them wound up pregnant because they didn’t necessarily have the best role models or a guiding hand in their lives, and thus no one is around to tell them now that being on a reality show probably isn’t such a good idea (for themselves or their babies). A sixteen year old hasn’t lived long enough to realize, “Hey. This is bullshit.”

I agree with you on all counts. I can’t imagine having grown up without strong role models and people there for me, and I know a lot of the girls didn’t have that, which bums me out. I also think they signed up for the show thinking it would be an easy way to make money, but having your face plastered on the tabloids makes any money you get it not worth it, at least in my opinion.

If the show is supported by condom commercials then that is certainly something in its favour. It is far from a perfect show (what little, I admit, I’ve seen of it) and over here, BBC3 has done actual documentaries, rather than reality style shows, and that format is so much better. But what I think is important, is keeping teen pregnancy current within the media in a way that isn’t simply politicians spouting off about XYZ every so often. Out of interest, I flicked channels and Teen Mom was on. It struck me that, even if parenting isn’t the primary focus these days, it is interesting to have a focus on teen relationships. I don’t know. From what I’ve seen of the American tabloids and news, the current “stars” are receiving attention for quite often the wrong reasons, but at least it’s being spoken about.

I think you are spot on; it is a teen soap with occasional babies, and that’s really sad. It’s not a teaching moment anymore; the focus isn’t on safe sex or any of that, it’s if Chelsea and Adam are going to get back together for the 9034857 time.

Leave a Reply