MTV’s hit show Teen Mom has now expanded its franchise even more. The new show Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant follows young girls through the ups and downs of pregnancy at a young age. But is this show actually dedicated to lowering teen pregnancies, or is MTV looking for another way to make money?
The title plays off of MTV’s money-making ‘Teen Mom’ franchise
A few years back, MTV had a popular show called 16 & Pregnant, which is actually where today’s Teen Mom cast got their start. But rather than revive the old hit, MTV strategically gave the show the same name as its biggest hit. The title Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant will instantly draw in those who are big fans of the well-known show. MTV is giving this new show a built-in fan base just through its title, which means they could really be in it for the money rather than the cause.
Next: The show’s opening minutes make it clear that MTV is working off of the ‘Teen Mom’ success.
The show opens with one of MTV’s most successful teen moms
It’s not just the title that plays off of Teen Mom. The new show opens up with Maci Bookout, one of the most successful teen moms, as its narrator. The young women on the show are portrayed as the next generation of teen moms. They’re introduced by Bookout, who has found overwhelming success since she first starred on 16 & Pregnant. The way the girls are introduced makes teen pregnancy sound exciting and rewarding.
Although MTV claims that they’re highlighting the hardships of pregnancy, it’s hard to see that from the show’s introduction.
Next: The premise of the show is one we’re all too familiar with.
The show follows young moms during and after pregnancy
The premise of Young and Pregnant is exactly the same as Teen Mom, just with younger moms. The show follows pregnant girls between the ages of 17 and 20 while they deal with the ups and downs of pregnancy. Young and Pregnant definitely highlights the downside of pregnancy at such a young age.
However, with social media so big nowadays, these girls quickly get thousands of followers and suddenly find themselves in the middle of fame, which could lead other young girls to think that exploiting their own pregnancies will help them make a living.
Next: The ‘Young and Pregnant’ audience is the most at-risk for a few reasons.
The ‘Teen Mom’ franchise’s biggest audience is young women
MTV has always catered to young viewers. The network focuses on viewers ages 12 to 34. In 2010, MTV’s ratings among that audience rose 16%. This was just one year after 16 & Pregnant first premiered. The majority of viewers are female. While a show about teenage pregnancy might not have any impact on a 34-year-old woman, the opposite could be said for a 12-year-old girl. After all, most of us watched those on 16 & Pregnant rise to fame; young women like Farrah Abraham and Maci Bookout are now household names. Other young girls might want that, too.
Next: There is one piece of good news, but it might not be enough.
Teen birth rates continue to drop in the US
On a positive note, birth rates among teens ages 15-19 have been steadily declining since the early 1990s. Between 2009 and 2010, teenage birth rates dropped 9%, which was one year after 16 & Pregnant premiered. There were 34.3 births per 1,000 women in 2010, according to Time Magazine. This was a historic low. That information leads us to believe that MTV’s hit show may have had something to do with it, but there is still one big problem that could be resulting from the show.
Next: Here’s why a drop in birth rates might not have anything to do with ‘Teen Mom’
‘Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant’ could lead to a copycat effect
Rather than affecting young girls who watch the show, the new MTV series could actually affect young girls who personally know those on the show. The New York Post reported that after the premiere of Teen Mom 2 (a spinoff exactly like the original that features different moms from 16 & Pregnant), three of cast member Jenelle Evans’ friends reportedly got pregnant within the year. Chelsea Houska, another star of the show, also had a roommate get pregnant soon after the show premiered. The show appeared to be having a “copycat effect” on those who are close with the moms.
With Young and Pregnant the next big thing, it’s possible that the same situation will happen with these cast members’ friends. Right now, it’s too soon to tell.
Next: As MTV expands its franchise, what can we expect?
As the franchise gets bigger, could teen birth rates increase?
Teen pregnancy rates dropped within the first year of 16 & Pregnant’s premiere. And they’ve continued to drop. However, as new shows based on teen pregnancy begin to premiere on top of the already successful Teen Mom franchise (TLC recently premiered a show called Unexpected, which is very similar to Young and Pregnant), it’s possible that we could see a rise again.
If the copycat effect is real, we can at least expect several of the Young and Pregnant stars’ friends to have young pregnancies as well.
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