Why Do I Love Terrible Things: Teen Mom

I have already made it immensely clear that I like trashy TV.  So it’s not surprising to you when I announce that I love Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2, right?  Once you’re done laughing at how ridiculous I am, I will give you the basic breakdown of what I enjoy about the show.

If we’re going to take one lesson from this show, it’s that money is hard to come by.  I don’t know what it’s like to watch this show as a teenager, since it didn’t come out until I was 22, but as an adult I see these girls make reaches for independence too early and it’s sickly satisfying when they fall.  For example, Kailyn (of Teen Mom 2) was living with her son’s father and had to borrow a significant amount of money from him to pay for school.  When she’s kicked out a little while later, the cops have to come settle a dispute between their families over the money.  Of the bunch of them, I think Kailyn is the best mom, but that didn’t stop me from feeling self-congratulatory when she ran into trouble.

Our next lesson is that teenagers aren’t ready for a lifetime commitment–to a baby or its other parent.  Of the 8 moms followed on the show, only 5 of the fathers are still in the picture, and only 1 set of parents stays together for the duration of the show.  Many of the fathers are jerks (see Ryan, Jo, and Adam), some of the mothers aren’t grown up enough to maintain a healthy relationship with the fathers (see Amber and Leah) and some of the fathers aren’t around at all (see Jenelle).  There are 8 broken families followed by these two shows and each episode shows just how tumultuous life is for a teenager.  Because things are changing within their bodies, with their friends and in their life, teens have a lot of emotions to deal with.  Many of the moms on this show just want to be teenagers who can go out with friends, stay out all night and move away to college.  Coping with the realization that they can’t do these things anymore (or at least that they’re way harder to do with a baby) would be enough to make a person crazy.  So it’s no wonder that the moms get pissed when the dads are irresponsible, like when Ryan spends much of the first season out partying while Maci stays home with the baby.  It’s hard to maintain a healthy relationship in that kind of environment and it puts a lot of stress on the baby.

My final, and most passionately favorite thing, is Jenelle on Teen Mom 2.  Her antics are so dramatic and overblown and hauntingly similar to my own that I can’t help but want to know what’s next.  The show starts with her mom taking custody of Jenelle’s son and when it comes to Jenelle, the focus rarely ever shifts back to the baby.  She bounces in and out of her mom’s house (which admittedly seems like an awful place to live, since her mother is constantly picking fights) and treatment facilities (with a night in jail and a stint in rehab).  She even dates a guy who’s homeless for most of the show.  What I love is that the world revolves around Jenelle, plus she can do no wrong, at least in her eyes.  She has an explosive temper, which causes her to get into fights with her mom all the time (this is what we have the most in common).  Though she’s clearly a dreamer who doesn’t want to be in the terrible situation she’s put herself in, she spins in circles trying to realize those dreams.  Most often when they don’t come to fruition, it’s because of a lack of planning.  It’s like Jenelle doesn’t realize there are consequences for her actions.  Take the opening of season 2, in which Jenelle ends up homeless yet again.  Her mom clearly didn’t want her to be dating Keiffer, said homeless guy, so Jenelle lies to her mom about cutting off contact and continues to sneak around with him.  When Jenelle gets sloppy and her mom finds out, she’s stunned to be kicked out of her home, again.  Why?  Why the shock?  Why the screaming?  There are rules clearly laid out for her and Jenelle refuses to follow them, which always leads to chaos.  And that is what I love about Jenelle.

So ladies, don’t get knocked up at 16, it’s really hard to live your life and be a parent.  Gentlemen, do everything you can to keep this from happening as well.  I’d hate to see you all break up, then get back together, then break up, then get back together, then break up again.

Minnie is seriously glad she was never a teen mom.


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