I love Teen Mom. I’m so excited that the original Teen Mom crew is back for a new season. I feel kind of pathetic watching it, seeing as I’m
fifteena few years outside of MTV’s target demographic. But I can’t stop!
Despite this, there’s something that nags at me whenever I watch the show. And with each passing season, it nags at me more and more. Teen Mom is a spin-off from MTV’s other successful show about teen motherhood, 16 and Pregnant. It was meant to follow a few of the mothers after the show, to broadcast the consequences of teen pregnancy to viewers in the long-term. Even though MTV wants us to see these four girls and their situations as typical, they’re really anything but. They’re on TV. These girls are famous. And they have a giant safety net that most young single mothers don’t have–sizeable paychecks from MTV.
It’s hard to find specifics and there’s conflicting information online, but one story has the moms making over $60,000 per season. Then there’s the magazine interviews, publishing deals, and speaking tours. Of course, none of this is ever mentioned on the show. Certainly these girls deserve to be paid for airing their private lives on TV–that’s not my point. What bothers me is that there’s no acknowledgement of this on the show.
In the first episode of the season, we see Catelynn and Tyler making plans to get their own apartment. At the time this was filmed, neither of them had finished high school and neither of them had a job. Although a friend chided the two of them about how they’d need to find jobs, we see in the preview for the next episode that the two are already touring apartments. There’s no explanation for this, but it’s clear that they’re using their MTV money to find a place. Farrah is getting a breast augmentation (and, at the plastic surgeon’s office, she hilariously fills out the intake form with “HERE FOR BOOBS”) and tells her mom that she’ll “take out a loan for a few months and then pay off the rest.” Why can she suddenly pay off the balance in a few months? That’s surely when filming ends for the season and that big paycheck comes. Maci decides to take the summer off, yet she can afford to pay rent, utilities, and to support her son. How many single moms do you know who can take a few months off of work and school just to hang out? Amber and Gary also appear not to have jobs (at least as far as we’ve seen), but somehow they’re managing to afford rent and such as well.
I guess it just bothers me that the show is so terribly unrealistic and that there’s a huge divide between the reality these young women live and the “reality” being portrayed by MTV. Would it really be so terrible to acknowledge that, yes, they can afford giant ugly tattoos and apartments and trips to Florida because MTV is paying them? Can’t we admit that, at this point, they’re all celebrities? That they’re on tabloid covers on a weekly basis? Instead of showing situations that are inauthentic, can’t we follow Maci on her speaking tours? What does she do with Bentley when she’s gone? I’d love to know that. And can we talk about Gary’s t-shirt line, It’s Gary Time? I mean, really, can we talk about this? Someone needs to talk about this!
So yeah. MTV’s Teen Mom, I love you and I’ll keep watching you. But can you throw a little more reality into the show? Pretty please?