As a teenager, getting up the nerve to tell your parents that you screwed up is rough. You know they’re going to get mad, and you know that you’re stuck under their roof to sweat out your punishment. But what really kills are those days, hours, and measly minutes before you finally find enough courage to give up the secret. That first shot of Amy (Shailene Woodley) waiting in the dark to tell her mother about her pregnancy gave me a serious case of the queasies.

But at long last, Mrs. Juergens (Molly Ringwald, pictured) knows the truth. As Amy broke the news — about her three, maybe four-month-old fetus? how pregnant is she again? — her mother was surprisingly calm. Or maybe Ringwald’s reaction shots aren’t as expressive as they were in the ’80s? (Woodley, at least, pulled off her character’s emotional breakdown with flying colors.)

The dialogue during Amy’s confessional may have been questionably funny — was I supposed to be laughing at Ashley’s perfectly timed interruption? India Eisley continues to play the monotone, bored-with-this-stupid-life pre-teen so well — but it was touching, too. Amy ended up skipping out on school and mulling the idea of having an abortion, Ashley’s growing pains turned out to be borderline terminal, and Mom tried balancing her divorce with the latest family upset.

addCredit(“American Teenager: Randy Holmes”)

In the end, we can probably brand this episode “the political one,” since it explored thepolarizing sides of teen pregnancy. Kind of. (I must’ve blinked and missed the moment when the characters time-traveled back to the 1950s, whereunwed pregnant mothers are “sent away” to quietly have their babies.) I mean, let’s get real: Ifwe’ve learned anything from Secret Life (or real life), it’s that secrets always come to the surface in high school (and especially in small, close-knit towns).

So everyone took sides: Adrian drove Amy to the clinic;Grace went bananas and protested at the clinic; Ben pushed for Amy to marry him and have the baby;the Sausage King went from being the coolest parent on the show tobeing mildly deranged, staging a dad-to-dad with Mr. Juergens aboutletting their children get hitched; and Mrs. Juergens pretty much toldAmy that she was a mistake. We know that Amy’s not getting an abortion,but whether or not she’ll raise the baby or give it up for adoption isstill in the air.

The other continuing uncertainty centers around Ricky’sopinion of the baby, but based on the promos for next week’s episode, we’re about to find out. We almost got to hear the tale of Ricky and Amy’sillicit night at band camp, but Brenda Hampton and her writing team held back yet again. Give us the flashback already! Plus, it’d be nice to get some clarification on whether Ricky is simply a misunderstood hottie or actually an awful, conniving creep, another area where the show’s writers (and actor Daren Kagasoff) remain maddeningly vague.

So PopWatchers, pick your sides! Is Ricky sweet or sour? Whatwill he ask Amy to do about the baby next week? Is Ben in love or inanother world? Is Amy making the right decision? Is Molly Ringwaldbetter at being a teenager or an adult on screen?

The Secret Life Of The American Teenager
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