Guest Author - Cheril Vernon
If you haven’t caught on to ABC Family’s new teen drama Secret Life of the American Teenager, there’s still time to catch the last two episodes of the first season on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. CST.
Created by Seventh Heaven’s Brenda Hampton, Secret Life of the American Teenager is a look at how teens at a high school struggle with decisions about sex and relationship.
The main character on the show is 15-year-old Amy Juergens (Shailene Woodley), a model student and daughter, who learns in the first episode that she is pregnant – result of falling for the school Romeo – Ricky (Daren Kagasoff) at band camp.
Too bad she didn’t meet Ben (Kenny Baumann) first, the perfect boyfriend for Amy who cares more about her as a person than anything else. It’s obvious that Amy regrets her short-lived relationship with Ricky because Ben is the kind of guy she was looking for. The courting between these two characters (Ben and Amy) is fun to watch, because it’s one of those classic first-love stories. Even when Ben finds out that Amy is pregnant he has stayed by her side, wanting to help her through the tough times — telling her parents, even offering to marry her (though Amy’s parents said they are too young).
Meanwhile, Ricky could care less that Amy is pregnant as he is more worried about how the school knowing will affect his social life.
And though the show is mostly about teenagers, it’s also about their parents and how they are struggling in their own relationships. One of the reasons I love the show so much is Molly Ringwald, one of my favorite 80s movie stars, who plays Amy’s mom Anne.
The show also stars John Schneider and Josie Bissett as Christian parents Marshall and Kathleen Bowman, parents of Grace, the virgin cheerleader who struggles in the first few episodes with her creepy boyfriend Jack (Greg Finley) who is pressuring her to have sex. Now, unfortunately, Ricky has eyes for her (as well as every other girl in school) and is determined to make her believe he’s a good person. Grace’s adopted brother Tom is interesting too. Tom has Down’s Syndrome and is full of life – keeping his sister in check (he’s a protective older brother) and keeping his parents in stitches with his jokes.
Mark Derwin is Amy’s father George who owns a furniture store and is cheating on Anne. Amy’s 13-year-old sister Ashley (India Easley) is really struggling with her parent’s troubled marriage. She is the first one in the house to learn that Amy is pregnant and though she normally doesn’t get along with her sister, feels badly about the situation she is in.
Let’s not forget Adrian (Francia Raisa), the high school’s resident bad girl. She’s not afraid of her sexuality and enjoys tormenting the boys at school, especially Ricky and Jack. She wants Ricky to herself and will do anything to keep him. But Ricky only wants one thing from girls: Sex.
But both Ricky and Adrian have back stories. Ricky lives in a foster home and comes from an abusive home. He has to see a counselor, Dr. Fields (Ernie Hudson) often but doesn’t want to talk about what happened between him and his dad. Adrian lives with a single mom who is a flight attendant who is never home. Later we learn that George (Amy’s dad) is having an affair with her.
In episode 8, Adrian rifles through school records to find out the name of her real father. In episode 9, she and Grace sit out in front of her real father’s home only to be destroyed emotionally when he comes out and tells her to leave his family alone.
Then there are Amy’s two best friends, Lauren (Camille Winbush) and Madison (Renee Olstead), who are little gossip queens, though they love their best friend.
Ben’s friends Henry (Allen Evangelista) and Alice (Amy Rider) are dating too, but have recently broke up.
In the next episode on Sept. 2, “Back to School Special,” Amy makes a decision about school. Meanwhile, Adrian’s mom convinces her to develop a relationship with her dad. Henry and Alice (who are broke up presently) take a step in their relationship.
On the season finale on Sept. 9, “Just Say No,” Adrian disappears from school, which starts a rumor and a call to the police from her dad; Grace receives multiple warnings about Ricky, and Amy and Ben mull over the next move in their relationship.