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Teen mothers, show seem to have lost their way

Posted: August 4, 2011 10:42 a.m.
Updated: August 5, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Last year, I wrote a column defending MTV’s popular reality show, “Teen Mom.”

I argued that the positive impact of publicly showing kids the day-to-day struggles of most teenage mothers far outweighed whatever fleeting “celebrity status” a couple of those girls received after being featured on the cover of a few magazines.

But that was a year ago.

And that was before the show included footage of one of the teen moms getting breast implants during the recent season premiere.

Farrah -- who was previously portrayed as a single mother who worked long hours as a waitress to financially support her daughter -- claimed the implants were a necessity, as she needed them to further her new and burgeoning modeling career.

Of course, she was able to find a loan to pay for the procedure and vowed to her mother that she would be able to pay the loan off in full in only a few short months with what one can only assume would be part of her six-figure MTV salary. 

But she’s not the only one who appears to have deviated from the show’s previous “we’re struggling” narrative that made the series such a hit during recent years.

Teen mom Maci made the decision to move out of her boyfriend’s apartment and rent a fully furnished condo in Chattanooga for $1,000 a month. 

Then there’s teen mom Amber, who was shown in a recent episode of the show renting a spacious three-bedroom house in a “great neighborhood” in an effort to escape from the relentless paparazzi that has been camping outside of her apartment.

And let’s not forget that teens Catelynn and Tyler, who opted to have an open adoption for their baby two years ago, also got their own apartment together. After moving in, they decided to apply for their first part-time jobs at a local pizzeria and clothing boutique.

I could be wrong, but I imagine the average teenage mother doesn’t have a couple of extra thousand dollars around to blow on breast implants and furnished condos, especially not when they’re working two or three days out of the week and earning $8 an hour.

In the beginning, MTV’s goal was clear -- they wanted to create a documentary-style show that chronicles the lives of teenage mothers who find themselves suddenly struggling to adjust to young motherhood. And for a while there, they achieved that goal.

But now the group of teen moms who once counted their pennies to purchase diapers have morphed into just another group of beautiful, young reality stars who purchase new cars and spacious furnished rental homes. 

Now, all we’re left with is their personal drama and anger management issues. There’s not even any real footage of the girls taking care of their children on the show anymore.

Finances -- one of the show’s strongest arguments against young parenthood -- are obviously no longer an issue for the young teen parents who have been reported to earn six-figure paychecks from MTV. So I’m curious to see what will be MTV’s next argument against teen parenting.

When you address an issue as serious as teen pregnancy, you have to do it responsibly. It’s too important of an issue for the television network to take lightly.

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