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'The Secret Life of the American Teenager' recap: A new life for a new mom

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Teenager ABC Family’s Secret Life of the American Teenager returned last night with the first glimpse at 15-year-old Amy’s life post-baby. Instead of hearing Amy complain about being tired and having everyone remind her how much work the baby was going to be, we heard her complain about being tired and everyone reminded her how much work the baby is. I did get a little irritated at her constant snippiness until I remembered: Oh, she’s 15. Of course she’s bratty. (Toss in that added new mom fatigue and it actually seems to be keeping in line with the character’s development.)

Amy’s relationship with Ricky seems to have improved, since the teenage lothario has stepped up and truly seems to care about and take responsibility for his newborn son. This being an ABC Family show, it’s not surprising that Ricky’s turned out to be a good guy after all, but it’s still nice to see his character mature. Ben, on the other hand, seems to have taken a step backwards: he’s extremely possessive of Amy, and is threatened by Ricky’s presence in her life. Sure, he has the right to be a little nervous, and I’m sure the insecurity about being a dorky virgin isn’t helping, but I thought it had already been established that Amy and Ricky weren’t romantically interested in each other at all. Am I wrong? Or am I still just weirded out by Ben’s desire to marry Amy/raise her baby as his own (a storyline the new 90210 totally jacked, BTW).

As for the major changes: first, Grace finally decided to get it on with Jack (after maturely weighing the pros and cons in a neat little monologue and equipping herself with the appropriate birth control, of course). Though Adrian tried to talk Grace out of it and made her realize that one of the main reasons she wanted to have premarital sex was because she didn’t want Jack to sleep with anyone else, the good Christian girl had made up her mind. Unfortunately, Jack ran into Grace’s mom while sneaking out of the house and inexplicably told her what happened, but she was too upset to react: she had just learned that her husband died in a plane crash.

Second, costar Molly Ringwald’s real-life pregnancy has been written into the show: Amy’s mother, Ann, found out she was now the one dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. The baby, we’ve learned, is most likely her new boyfriend’s, because George got a vasectomy 10 years ago. (For the record, I still despise George. For every kind moment, like offering up his empty bed so his soon-to-be-ex-wife can get some much-needed shut eye, there are a gazillion skeevy moments, like discussing his soon-to-be-ex-wife’s weight with both her mother and her boyfriend.)

Last night’s episode seemed a little jokier than before — Ben and Henry talked about Amy’s much more endowed chest (though in that trademark Secret Life language where they clinically referred to her “breasts” instead of using slang any actual 15-year-old boys would use). Plus, Ben’s dad is now dating Jennifer Coolidge’s Betty, definitely unaware of the fact that she’s an escort. While I hope Leo doesn’t get hurt (I think he’s a nice guy), I am all for seeing Coolidge on my screen as often as possible.

I’m thinking these new developments could provide interesting material to build on. Now that the whole “teen going through a pregnancy” plot has played out and the “frustrated young mother” thing is going on, we have room to explore some other topics. Hopefully the writers won’t just turn these new problems into issues of the week, instead allowing time for the characters to grieve Marshall’s death, deal with Ann’s accidental pregnancy, and explore the more emotionally complex aspects of teenage sex (other than “If you have sex, you’ll get pregnant!” or “If you have sex, you’re the school slut!”).

What did you think of the season premiere? Kinda the same, but different (in a good way)? Do you like the stories last night’s episode set up? Which new plot point are you most excited about?