After four seasons of “Teen Mom” and one episode each of “16 and Pregnant,” the four original moms — Maci Bookout, Farrah Abraham, Catelynn Lowell and Amber Portwood — bid their farewells in a final Dr. Drew special on Sept. 11. The two-part reunion recap allows the girls to show how they have matured during this long, transformative process and gives MTV a chance to plug some last-minute messages on growing up in the face of adversity.
Throughout the years, regardless of the ups and downs the four girls — now women — faced, “Teen Mom” never diminished in popularity. It began with MTV’s hit show “16 and Pregnant,” which then inspired numerous spin-offs including “Teen Mom,” “Teen Mom 2” and TLC’s new take, “High School Moms.” Now there is a “Teen Mom 3” in the works, as well as a rumored spin-off show for fan-favorite Maci.
“Teen Mom” took four average girls, struggling to balance motherhood with their teenage lifestyles, and turned them into celebrities. Most of them can be seen on magazine covers, speaking at various events and interacting with their many Twitter followers. However, this newfound fame also brought an unexpected responsibility. For millions of viewers, most of whom are young adults, “Teen Mom” had an enormous influence on many women who are close to the cast members’ age.
Though the show’s ratings remained consistently high, its critical reception has always been mixed. In December 2011, Entertainment Weekly published an article about the contrasting views on “Teen Mom.” In response to the magazine’s claim that “Teen Mom” was glamorizing teenage pregnancy, MTV published notes from the Center for Disease Control that showed birth rates for teens were at an all-time low. But that didn’t change many parents’ stance against “Teen Mom,” especially those on the Parents Television Council. The PTC did have valid concerns, mainly that “Teen Mom” sets a bad example, but the show was never intended to turn the girls into role models.
“Teen Mom” ushered in an era of heavy media coverage for teen pregnancy, which in turn was accompanied by a great deal of controversy. People saw these girls as the faces of teenage pregnancy in America, and some saw it as a misrepresentation of American youth or a glorification of teenaged pregnancy. But “Teen Mom” is not a reality shared by most of its viewers. It has served as a constant source of entertainment, offering a glimpse of an existence to which most viewers cannot fully relate. In the end, despite the negativity, the franchise and its leading ladies show no signs of declining in popularity.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 11 print edition. Kaitlin Gu is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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