Teen Mom OG is still on the air, which means there must be some people still watching it. I will admit, I was a fan of the show “16 and Pregnant” back in the day—I started watching it because my friend was making her 15 year old daughter (who had recently been caught sending bikini selfies to her boyfriend) watch a marathon of it to try to scare some sense into her (it worked—she is now in college and has not been pregnant yet that I know of). So, I have basically seen almost all the episodes of 16 and Pregnant, except for the very last season, which I don’t think was out at that time. Mostly I found that show to be really depressing but oddly compelling at the same time— to a person, all of the girls started out their respective episodes with the wide-eyed optimism of someone who lives with their parents and has not yet accepted the gravity of the situation they are about to be in. Midway through the episode, they go into labor, and then the rest of the hour is basically a slow unraveling of their lives, complete with sleep deprivation, arguments, poverty, and almost always a breakup as the teenage boy that got them pregnant realizes that THEY still live with their parents and still have a chance at a life without all of that crushing responsibility. The very end is always a “video diary” where the girls are crying, saying they wish they had waited, they love their child but if they could go back they would for sure have been more careful, and so on. If we are to believe Dr. Drew and the executives at MTV, this show helped lower the rate of teenage pregnancy by quite a lot, and you only need to watch one episode to see why. It was brutal truth, and I really thought those girls (although they were really stupid to get pregnant in the first place) made a good choice by sharing their stories and trying to help other people not ruin their lives.
But, Teen Mom. Oh my God. What is going on there? Am I to understand that we are still following some of these girls, and that they have become reality stars? What is the point of that? The Teen Mom franchise seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the intent of the original show. In fact, if anything, Teen Mom sort of encourages teenage girls to get knocked up by showing that getting pregnant is an ok way to become famous, never acknowledging that those four girls (or now, women, because aren’t they like 25 years old?) are a complete statistical anomaly and that the overwhelming majority of girls that get pregnant when they are 15 or 16 are not going to end up being TV stars. YIKES. This series has gone off the rails, and the girls in their current states are proof of that. They got pregnant early so they lack general life, education, and financial skills because they never had to learn them. Throw fame and money into the mix and you have a recipe for complete disaster, which is how almost all of their lives have turned out. This makes me sad.
Case in point: having not really kept up with the “Teen Mom OG” cast since I saw their “16 and Pregnant” episodes, I happened upon the most recent episode of Teen Mom OG when it auto-played on Hulu following something else I was watching. It has been what, eight years since that show came out? Those girls are barely recognizable now.
The very, very worst is Farrah Abraham, who was clearly already delusional in her “16 and Pregnant” episode. If you’ll recall, she is the one who was a cheerleader from Iowa and she had a super, super crazy, fur coat wearing, religious mom who I guess is ALSO still a part of the show. Farrah now lives in Austin and looks like she has completely gone off the deep end with the plastic surgery. How is no one telling her that she looks nothing like she used to, and how has she not yet suffered the consequences of how she talks to people? She clearly surrounds herself with people who a) will take her abuse, or b) are telling her what she wants to hear because she has money and power. This is sad for so many reasons, not least of which is that when the spotlight is finally off of her once and for all, she is going to have a horrible “come to Jesus” moment where she realizes that she is a terrible person. Or maybe she won’t. She is the one girl in that group that seems genuinely crazy. Also, can we talk about her complete lack of education, yet her desire to seem erudite and powerful, and thus the terrible, condescending tone and near-constant use of made up words? YIKES. Cross your fingers that she is investing that adult film money well. I do not have a good feeling about her future. Also, Simon: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, and to the girl who got fired from the frozen yogurt store—you are better off.
Next let’s talk about Amber. She actually seems to have come a long way with herself since her 16 and Pregnant episode. She has lost weight, gotten off of drugs, and has learned how to do her makeup—all good things. I’m going to say she’s maybe the most improved of the bunch, as I had zero hope for her during her 16 and Pregnant episode (the engagement ring from Walmart! The horrible temper! Gary! Just….oh my God to all of it). I’m a little scared for her with the former drug addict fiancé with all the kids, but they seem like they are making it work, although, and I say this in the nicest way possible, she does seem depressed, and I don’t think that the money and the fame have done one thing to help that. She seems to be doing ok with her real estate business and is finally getting along with Gary and his perpetually sunburned wife, so I guess that’s good. Overall I want to give Amber a pass because she seems like she’s trying, so I have hope for her. I did read this article about how she got into a fistfight with Farrah at the taping of the reunion show, but I’m not sure whether to say “Oh, Amber is losing her ability to control her temper again,” or to acknowledge that Farrah is awful and who wouldn’t want to punch her. So, I’m just going to say I don’t think 25 year olds should be getting in fistfights and leave it at that. I do hope Amber is saving some of her tv show and real estate money, because she seems to be very into the new cars, tattoos, and expensive clothes like the rest of them.
Side note: Why do so many of them call their children “Boo” or “Boo boo”? Does anyone know?
Up next: Catelynn and Tyler. Weren’t they supposed to be, like, the great hope for that show? They were so inspirational in making the very tough choice to place their first daughter for adoption (see, they even influenced the language around the decision). Now Catelynn’s stoic personality and her years of abuse by her mother seems to have finally backed up on her, as she seems to be a depressed, pot-smoking mess. While writing up this article I also read that she spent some outrageous amount of money on a pig, so that is also a bad sign. I want those two to make it and for her to pull it together, because isn’t she supposed to be an example for people who are teenagers and making that very hard choice? I’m not sure seeing her like that is inspirational to anyone, sadly. I’m not sure her “open door” policy with her therapist is working—why does she not just quit the show and get herself some actual help to get her life back on track? Oh, right—she can’t quit the show because she would have no other source of income, because she is now a mess. I’m guessing she doesn’t get a lot of money from speaking engagements at present.
Second side note: Almost all of these girls have come out with one or more books, so I’m assuming that MTV has a relationship with publishers and ghost writers to make that happen. If that is the case, wouldn’t it be kind of MTV to offer them some other resources, like financial planning, so that so many of them don’t waste their money getting elaborate tattoos, buying expensive cars, and buying house after house? This is genuinely confusing to me. I suppose MTV benefits from the stars of the show continuing to need to be on the show, but it seems weird that there is a sort of mutual exploitation going on there that everyone is ok with.
Last but not least, Maci. It seems like she is doing ok, though three kids by 25 is a lot (I don’t think I’m alone in this opinion). I get where it seems like a good idea to have your kids be close-ish in age, especially if you are going to want to have a lot of them, but it seems like having the last two that close together would be hard on your body AND not allow for personal growth as a human being. Also, does she have some sort of weird accent now, apart from just being from Tennessee? She occasionally sounds like one of the characters from Lord of the Rings in the way she pronounces words. She also has the elaborate tattoos (which look expensive), and apparently she is getting married in a super-expensive venue, but she is the one cast member who seems like she is actually stable and growing her life rather than just using her salary from the show as an ATM. I do wonder about the multiple houses, though. You can’t put the two little kids in the same room for a year or two while you let the house gain some equity? Seems weird, almost like MTV manufactured the need for a whole new house because they needed a storyline. Maci’s ex Ryan is the one who is coming out looking like the real loser in that scenario, however. That kid (and I am going to just keep calling him a kid because he seems to have no responsibilities and no desire for any) seems wasted all the time, with the tie-dye shirts and the big eyes. Maci seems like she’s dealing with life the best, and like she’s going to have the most to fall back on when the show ends.
And so, all in all, I cannot really understand why this show is still on, except for the fact that MTV clearly wants to keep exploiting these girls. Can they not see that they have created some monsters?