pregnancy rates rise for the first time in almost 20 years, ABC Family’s Secret Life of the American Teenager and MTV’s real-life version, 16 and Pregnant, have been doing their best to function as a kind of televisual birth control, exposing the down side of having a baby in high school. And the most famous teen mom of them all, Bristol Palin (pictured, left), has been on a relentless, if at times confusing (abstinence “isn’t realistic,” abstinence is totally realistic and the only option), publicity tour to educate America on how hard it is to be a teen mother like herself. So it makes sense that she’ll be making her acting debut on Secret Life this summer, playing herself, as a friend of Amy’s in a music program for teen moms. (Incidentally, who knew there were music programs for teen moms?) The question remains whether she’s gunning more for a teen mom pundit career as an outgrowth of Mom’s TV takeover, an actual acting career, or just a one-off dash through Hollywood. (Hey, I’d be on the show, too, if it meant an expenses-paid flight from Alaska to L.A.)If there’s anything pop culture has taught us recently, it’s that teen motherhood is, like, totally hard and stuff. As teen
I salute Bristol for taking the slight political risk of appearing on a show that repeatedly discusses condoms, masturbation, and other chancy subjects. I’d like it even better, though, if she showed up on 16 and Pregnant to…I don’t know, coach one of those poor girls through labor or something — if she’s looking to promote an “it’s hard to be a teen mom” message, that’s the place to go. Despite its overload of frank sex talk, Secret Life presents a still-pretty-rosy view of teen pregnancy, in which charming, sweet high school dudes eagerly enter into committed relationships with girls who have been recently impregnated by another dude. Meanwhile, 16 and Pregnant, the show that features appallingly — realistically — immature babydaddies who are known to cheat on the girls and gripe aloud that they wouldn’t even be together if not for the kid, gets a bad rap for its alleged mixed messages. A nice visit from a Palin — as confused as Bristol is herself — might, ironically enough, clear up parents’ views on the show right quick, not to mention bring attention to the show that truly is the best ad ever made for safe sex (or, yes, even abstinence).
What do you think, PopWatchers? Will you watch Bristol make her acting debut on Secret Life of the American Teenager? How do you think it fits into her overall message? Will we ever have a Palin-free week again?