I hate goodbyes, even the everyday kind. At parties, I usually slip out the back door to avoid explanation of why I’m jetting home early (answer: because my friends are wrecked and unaware that spit’s flying out of their mouth as they trip over their words), and when an MTV series that I’ve written about for years ends, I tend not to address the fact using the first person (this has always been a “we” type of blog) or cave to the typical “this is not goodbye, it’s see you later” mushy sentiment. Thing is, this really is goodbye for “Teen Mom,” and it really does deserve some sugar.
The final episode of the series aired tonight, and I unexpectedly became what’s referred to in Yiddish as verklempt, meaning my throat mirrored symptoms of anaphylaxis and my face was a mascara rainforest throughout the show. For four seasons, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maci, Amber, Farrah and Catelynn as they transformed from scared, sometimes hopeless adolescents burdened with very grown-up conflicts and responsibilities into more empowered, independent young women. The road has been bumpy for them, to say the least, but because they were thrust into the high-stakes pressures of adulthood prematurely, they also gained an early perspective of what truly matters in life, and used that knowledge to inform their next decisions and forge ahead fearlessly.
Not all of the girls have come out on the other side in a better place–sadly, Amber is currently serving time in jail and her daughter, Leah, will no doubt suffer an emotional toll because of her mother’s absence–but all of the girls should be applauded and thanked for surrendering their privacy as a means to teach their peers the consequences of teen pregnancy. While tabloids often spun rumors about their personal relationships, and critics of the series used these magazine covers as an argument that the show glamorized teen pregnancy, the majority of feedback we’ve heard from MTV’s dedicated viewership has been rather validating. You’ve seen “Teen Mom” as it was meant to be: a deterrent. You’ve learned the necessity of having safe sex, or practicing abstinence, as you watched the painful sacrifices the cast members made ever since they found out they were having a child. You’ve breathed multiple sighs of relief that it didn’t happen to you.
The birthrate for U.S. teens is at a record low, but we still have a ways to go. Remember Maci’s, Catelynn’s, Farrah’s and Amber’s struggles. Pass their stories along to your friends, your daughters, your sons. And please continue to send love and hope to all four of these young ladies as they navigate the unpredictable terrain ahead.
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