Friday, July 17, 2009

Dirty Confessions of the MTV Sort

Let’s talk MTV reality shows. At some point in my music-loving career, MTV declared a jihad against their own music videos and replaced them with “reality” television, the frontrunner being the Real World. Perhaps some of you were too young to remember (I was held back a grade), or you had a Mormon upbringing and were barred from MTV, but the Real World used to be the shiznit. Take the original New York cast: they had quasi-legit jobs and life goals, you could discern between them with ease, alcohol was consumed on a moderate basis, and what they lacked in fake tans, they more than made up for in high-waisted jeans and flannel shirts. As a 3rd grader in 1992, this was a group I could easily get behind. (I was sooooo Julie Gentry!) Don’t even get me started on the drunken meat-market that is this season’s “RW Cancun”, because if it were up to me, I’d send the lot of them out on a deep-sea fishing trip with Joran Van der Sloot. (What? Too soon?)

So a few series later of My Super Sweet Sixteen, Room Raiders, and Rich Girls, (did anyone else simply adore this hot meandering mess of Allie Hilfiger's show? What about the time the bulldog pulled an Exorcist and threw up neon green matter? “Madge is sick!!”) we arrive at our present day MTV lineup, the most fascinating, of course, being 16 and Pregnant. Who is the loon behind this, and what sort of Giggle Water was he drinking when he convinced himself he could pull the fleece over our eyes and keep us from realizing this was Juno: The Show?

What I liked about Juno:

  • Ellen Page
  • Michael Cera’s short shorts
  • The hamburger phone
  • Zany partner-in-crime played by Olivia Thirlby
  • Allison Janney’s northern accent and weird obsession with dogs (specifically Weimeraners)
  • The unfettered consumption of Sunny D and Twizzlers
  • By the end of the movie, we know that everything is going to be okay

What I like about 16 and Pregnant:

  • I can mentally dub it Comparative Proof That I Am Doing Pretty Darn Good With My Life Choices

And that’s about it. Because honestly, the rest of the show pretty much obliterates my faith in the high school population and makes my lady parts cringe in fear. I tuned in to Music Television in hopes of catching some Beyonce, not The Learning Channel – therefore please give me a little warning before you show a 17-year-old having contractions and being instructed to “push like you’re making a bowel movement.” And now the delicious Amy’s enchilada I was enjoying is going straight into the trash. You owe me $5.29, MTV – that shit was organic.

But, like any good train wreck you just can’t look away from, I keep watching. Every. Damned. Episode. Mainly because I’m just so startled how almost-acceptable they make it seem for high schoolers to have a baby. The baby shower scene alone almost makes me consider jumping in on the fun, until I suddenly realize who’s buying up all those onesies with “Daddy’s Strongest Swimmer!” and “I’m Living Proof My Mom Puts Out” written on them. If you, dear reader, happened to have a child at an early age, please don’t take offense – in fact, a tip o’ the hat to you. I just happen to know myself and have no qualms admitting that my loving-yet-easily-distracted arms are where a fleet of Tamagotchis, Chia pets, and one pet rabbit named Angel came to die (she lived outside, I forgot to feed her, my family still brings it up during the holidays, and I don’t want to talk about it.) Suffice it to say, I’m gonna need a little more time being selfish and looking out for Numero Uno before I can fully care for a miniature human being.

So you can imagine my disgruntled enthusiasm when I heard the season finale of 16&P was going to be “the most difficult episode yet.” More difficult than giving up your childhood, quitting school, giving birth, and waking up for 3 a.m. feedings?? Are they also going to live in a tank full of sharks? My mind was at a loss, until I tuned in last night mid-episode to find what appeared to be Lily Allen’s long-lost sister trying to select a couple to adopt her baby with the help of her stud-earring-and-sideways-cap-sporting boyfriend. “Oh ho ho, here we go!” I thought to myself. The minutes ticked by and the story unfolded– Lily & Eminem had been dating since 7th grade and both came from relatively unstable households (her mom was in and out of the picture and she’d lived in 13 different homes, his dad went to prison for a while – sorry to Debbie Downer this, but I’m a hard-hitting journalist who cuts to the facts), their parents had decided to marry each other so they were now step-siblings, and they were sophomores in high school. And pregnant. I didn’t even know where to begin, mainly because I could not get over her mother’s hair – it had to have some fake additions, because girlfriend’s weathered face was a telltale sign of her unhealthy lifestyle (read: crackhead), and I can only imagine that a diet of smack does not make for a healthy and luxurious mane. Additionally, the mom was a huge proponent of Lily & Eminem keeping the baby, because “Its my first grandbaby.” And she wasn’t alone! Eminem’s dad, who apparently spent his duration in the clink growing out a serious handlebar moustache, informed him that giving said baby away would be evidence of him not manning-up and “being a cowboy.” What??? Pretty sure there were no toddlers on Brokeback Mountain, Sir, but think what you will. I’m so confused as to why the kids’ explanation of “We want the baby to have a better life than we could give it right now” falls upon deaf ears, but I guess eating too many pork rinds and spending your time gambling at gas station casinos can make you hard of hearing. So I’ve already got the parents on my shit-list, but for the first time, the pregnant couple is kind of starting to win me over. For all his ghetto-bro façade, Eminem (fine, fine, his name is Tyler) is probably one of the most caring and realistic kiddos I have ever seen. They pick out a couple that want a baby very badly, have a stable household, waterski, and probably sh*t rainbows and cheesecake (I love ‘em!) Things get tense as the parents disapproval heightens, Lily Allen realizes how hard its going to be to give up a baby, Tyler is supportive and loving throughout the entire she-bang… eventually, my cold heart of granite started to soften a bit and I felt a hot salty tear dribble down my cheek. I cried during a reality show on MTV. And I kind of hated myself for it, because the commercial breaks were populated with sneak peeks at the upcoming Real World Cancun episode. The only thing that made it okay was the text from co-blogger Barbara: “Umm confession: sitting in my bed bawling and watching 16 and pregnant.” Through the course of the show, we came to the executive agreement that the couple was “SOOOOO SWEET!”, Tyler earned a "love love love!" and the parents were “stupidheads.”

So, MTV, well done. Although you’re only playing music videos from 7 – 8 A.M. these days, I hate the recent Real Worlds, and you are solely responsible for bringing Heidi Montag out from the Colorado rock she was living under, I can’t give up on you quite yet, because you restored a bit of my faith that there are decent teenagers out there. Even if they are having sex with their step-siblings.


  1. You have to give these kids some serious props! Normally kids rebell against their parents by staying out past curfew, drinking schmirnoff's in a field off the freeway, or by throwing keg parties in graveyards. But these kids actually have it together and are being FORCED to rebell by giving their child up for adoption? That is messed up. Don't you think at some point MTV should have stepped in and been like hey wait a second crack head and prison breaker they know what they are talking about?! That is just social deacency if you ask me!

  2. I've shed my fair share of tears during a Juvies episode or two. No shame in that.

  3. Did anyone catch the reunion show last night? Caitlyn and Tyler were the only sane people up on that stage! Everyone else was still talking about how maybe you still shouldn't use condoms...umm ok. AND about how "grown up" they were now...umm're still 16 and have a baby...wait a year and then we'll talk.