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'The Secret Life of the American Teenager': Things we learned from the season premiere

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The Secret Life of the American Teenager returned to ABC Family for more crowd-pleasing teen-mom awkwardness, former teen star resurrections (and the Molly Ringwald Award goes to…Mayim Bialik!), and apparent continuing attempts to score a world record for “the most times any one television cast can use the word ‘sex’ in dialogue.” Here, a few things we learned upon the teen soap’s midseason premiere:

Ben may or may not be breaking up with Amy. With his Italian non-girlfriend on the way into town, he was freaking out. But his function was still, as usual, reduced to listening to a bunch of people tell him what to do all episode instead of actually doing anything himself. Um, who gave Madison and Lauren the authority to deem him unworthy to ditch Amy if he wants to? “The only way you are ever, ever getting out of this relationship is if she wants out,” Madison harangued him in the hallway. Why does this poor kid always get treated like he’s the one who knocked Amy up? Speaking of which…

We do just fine with minimum Amy. Sorry, but somehow the once-sweet, scared teen mom has become one of the most insufferable characters on television. (And I say this as a general fan of Shailene Woodley’s early portrayal of her.) All she did the last dozen or so episodes was whine and pout about her baby while nagging her saintly boyfriend. Sorry, sweetie, you messed up and got pregnant — deal with it already. I kinda liked having her and her mom at a safe distance in Palm Springs for most of this episode. (Her hair, however, looked fantastic.)

Moms must all have bangs. Not sure about Molly Ringwald’s, but unequivocally in favor of Josie Bissett’s. No wonder she’s got the dreamy younger boyfriend. (Where were you, My Boys‘ Reid Scott?)

The solution to both oral sex gone bad (condolences, Jack and Grace) and impending visits from Italian non-girlfriends is ditching school. Conveniently, this results in our entire cast of kids driving around town and gallavanting on the beach all day. Side note: Would Adrian not have gotten kicked out of school anyway for wearing those short shorts?

Blossom rocks the wacky Secret Life humor like no one else. This is not an easy feat, but as the new school counselor, Dr. Bink (nice nod to Mayim Bialik’s own real-life PhD), she pulled off the goofy, wordy, quippy dialogue with a wink. Upon being confronted with a kid’s heavily expository accusations that her husband left her for another guy, she got her doctorate on the internet, and she got fired from her last job for having sex with a student: “One, the other guy was his cousin. Two, there are some excellent schools on the internet. And three, the student to whom you are referring was 18 before we went to the prom and we did it as a political statement and there was no sex involved. I just like to dance. What’s your point?” Could’ve been dumb. Was actually funny. Get this lady her own show again. Maybe a show about Dr. Bink’s life before she got to this school, which sounds fascinating.

“Truant” does not mean “having a groin injury.” Oh, Jack.

It is a crime to have sex with a minor. And a minor is anyone under 18. The greater the difference in age, the greater the penalty. If the perp is more than three years older, it’s a felony. That is courtesy of Adrian. For no reason except the offhand suggestion that Grace go out with someone older than she is to prove a point to her mom, who’s dating someone much younger. Is it me, or is this show like a lawschool tutorial? I feel like I could pass the bar having watched just that one episode where Amy and Ben almost got married, with all the lawyery talk about witnesses and fake IDs. But this one is a close second with this “sex with a minor” lesson plus all the pontificating about Ricky’s paternal rights if Amy doesn’t come back from Palm Springs. Not to mention the clarification that there is not, in fact, an “exception for puttering” when it comes to the law about kids not riding in the car when a teen is driving on a permit.

You can say the word “sex” 10 times in one scene. For the record, the scene in the convertible. Impressive, but I think they’ve done better in prior episodes.

Jan. 17! Bring It On-athon! This was just a promo, but, wow, does that look like the best day of my life.

Ben’s Italian non-girlfriend is super cute. Sorry, Amy.

What did you think of the midseason premiere, PopWatchers? Are you psyched for the upcoming season?

Photo Credit: Randy Holmes/ABC

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