Tuesday, February 8, 2011

MTV's Latest Teen Pregnancy-Based Reality Show 'Teen Mom 2' Showcases New Stories, Struggles

MTV’s latest installment in teen pregnancy-based reality programming, “Teen Mom 2”  follows four new teen moms that you might remember from the latest season of “16 & Pregnant.” This time around, all the moms have chosen to raise their children, and three of the teens are attempting to maintain a relationship with the babies’ fathers.

In this episode, Kailyn is able to start college – something the other moms are still working toward. She and Jo, her ex, live with his family, but struggle with their relationship and the family dynamic. After a fight with his dad, Jo and Kailyn get kicked out of the house and have to figure out a new living arrangement. In a moment of clarity, Kailyn realizes that living with Jo just because it is “convenient” maybe isn’t the best choice for her and her son, Isaac. 

Leah, who you might remember as the mom who had twins, has reunited with her daughters’ dad, Corey. The pair quickly move in together, but without her friends or family close by, Leah’s scenes mostly revolve around how bored and exhausted she is. She wants to start school but isn’t sure Corey is reliable enough to watch the girls while she studies. He acts offended, but after an afternoon alone with the two crying infants, he calls her and tells her to hurry home.

The most dramatic storyline this season is Jenelle. Like the original “Teen Mom” tabloid star Amber, her storyline revolves around a deeply dysfunctional relationship. Rather than an abusive romance, Jenelle struggles with her mom. There is a lot of screaming, a lot of door slamming, and it's hard not to wonder what effect this might have on Jenelle’s toddler son, Jace. 

In Tuesday’s episode, her mom kicks her out and calls her the “worst piece of ****” mother. Whoooa, MTV. I hope Dr. Drew is around the corner to offer these two some counseling, ASAP. It is easy to see both sides at times, but it is impossible to watch this without hoping the two of them seek professional help.

Another teen, Chelsea and her roommate start the episode by making check list before her daughter’s father, Adam, is allowed to move into their home. On their list: he has to have a job and he has to treat her and her baby well. Shouldn’t those things be worked out before inviting someone to move in? No job? Doesn’t treat mom well? Or the baby? That’s three strikes! But, in the teen reality world, those red flags don’t mean much.

“Don’t make me regret this,” she tells Adam. For a quick reminder, this was the same boyfriend, who on “16 & Pregnant,” sent her text messages calling their daughter a “mistake” and making fun of her stretch marks just after she had given birth.  I’m just a viewer, and I’m already regretting this decision!

After the success of the first “Teen Mom,” it is easy to see why these moms were picked for the second round. I just hope that the lessons of teen parenthood don’t get lost in the reality show drama.

- Elizabeth Benfield is a graduate assistant at the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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