“If you don’t shut up, I’ll just leave and you’ll never see me again.” Most likely, this sentence conjures up fond memories of those jaded teenage years when contemptuous threats to parents who just didn’t understand were another part of daily life. But this is MTV, so there must be some additional element of drama for any otherwise relatable experience. And this time, the quote came out of the mouth of a teen mom.
“16 and Pregnant”
Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Back for its second season, because apparently the first didn’t scare enough teens into celibacy, “16 and Pregnant” sums up nine months of confusion, ill-preparedness and demands for paternity tests in each hour-long episode. The show’s first season centered around strong teenaged girls who decided to birth their babies as the whole world watched them grow, both physically and as more mature mothers.
Admittedly, season one was … cute. Sure, teenaged pregnancy is hard — but those babies! And if some girl on MTV can do it, and probably get a nice lump of cash, so can any whats-her-name in Anywhere, USA.
This time around, it’s no longer sufficient just to be pregnant, but one must also exhibit the qualities of a horrible mother.
Jenelle is the show’s bait for its second season. She seemed OK at first, a bit heavy on the attitude, but that’s ascribable to hormones. That is until Jace comes along, stuck in daycare while Jenelle returns to high school. He’s watched by his grandma when Jenelle needs to “get out.”
Sympathy and concern for Jenelle’s baby are what make this season’s premiere worth watching. More often than not, Jace is referred to as “it,” and well into his first few months, his mother still seems to be toying with the idea of actually raising him.
If this entire season follows the low motherly bar set by Jenelle, MTV’s show is going to make a few statements distinct from its first season. Instead of displaying the hardships of the teen mom, season two seems to focus on how much it would suck to be the baby — providing a different point of view to deter teen moms from thinking they can handle the pressure.
And Jenelle is a prime example of how much a teen mom loses, like, you know, partying with friends, “me time” and going to the beach. Jenelle prides herself on how she takes care of herself, while everyone else is only noticing how she doesn’t take care of her baby. When her mom reminds her to fill a few bottles, she whines, “Are you serious?”
While the season premiere is a bit difficult to watch, and even more annoying to listen to courtesy of Jenelle’s constant whining (to be noted, more than her baby), it provides a more realistic look into how teen pregnancy isn’t just learning to work life around a baby. It isn’t just being able to tell mom before the bump comes or making the baby daddy put a ring on it. It’s living at home with mom and dad and it means no more being a kid.
Moms from last season pulled up their britches, stuck out their bellies and took the role of mom head-on. Jenelle threatens to run away and leave her baby with grandma. But honestly, if the camera portrays her mothering accurately, that may not be the worst thing. Hopefully teens will get the message, or their tacky threats might not mean much. And what’s a teen without a contemptuous mouth?