MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” may be first reality TV with a redeeming influence

January 15, 2014

I dislike reality TV intensely–

Unless you include things like “This Old House” or other DIY programs. They fascinate me. I admit I watched “America’s Next Top Model” for a season or two. But honestly, I did that to keep someone else company. I was more than relieved when he got bored and stopped watching.Sixteen and Pregnant


The question I want to pose here is, Can reality TV have a redeeming quality or two, at least in the case of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant?”



According to an article by Annie Lowrey in the New York Times online. (, “A new economic study of Nielsen television ratings and birth records suggest that the show . . . ,” which follows a different teen through pregnancy, delivery and the first weeks of parenthood, “and its spinoffs may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers in 2010.”


This is great news. When I worked with teenagers at risk, I saw too many lives curtailed by girls who got pregnant deliberately to try to cement a relationship.


My own daughter and many of her friends thought it was “so cute” when one of the girls in junior class got pregnant. They romanticized the situation and could hardly wait to play with the baby. Never mind that I kept pointing out that this girl wasn’t going to prom, wasn’t going to star in the current school production, or buy cool new clothes, or go to parties. Her carefree days were over. I’m grateful that none of these girls became unwed teen mothers themselves.


If this reality TV program is preventing teen pregnancy, I support it. I support it in spite of the fact that it has made celebrities of some of the teens, although that is regrettable. Celebrity for celebrity sake is one of the most unfortunate and disturbing aspects of reality TV, made even worse when the person celebrated is so young and so vulnerable. That saddens my heart.


If you’re a teen girl who watches “16 and Pregnant,” what do you think and why?

Parents, do your teens watch the program? What’s their reaction? What’s yours?


4 Responses to MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” may be first reality TV with a redeeming influence

  • Hi Jo, I thought I had subscribed to your blog weeks ago, but I guess I subscribed to some comments. I am such a Luddite! Anyway, thanks for this post. I hadn’t heard of this show, but I will check it out. If it slows teen pregnancy, that is a real gift.

  • Hi Rosi,

    Thanks for making the effort to subscribe. I appreciate it.

    Let me know what you think when you watch “16 and Pregnant.” I’d love to get a conversation going.

    PS: I’ve subscribed to your very interesting site. I don’t know yet if it’s working–one Luddite to another.

  • Hello Jo. I not only dislike reality shows, I rarely watch television at all. I find the “reality” unrealistic for the most part, and often downright harmful. “16 and Pregnant” however, highlights a “reality” that actually needs to be SHOWN to teens, because no amount of telling will get the job done. The more people who give such programing a shout-out, the more likely we’ll enjoy more of the same.

  • Hi Margaret,
    I long for good stories on TV. Alas, I think you;re right. Not much worthwhile programming. But I’m hoping 16 and Pregnant helps bring reality to a subject that is often romanticized by teens.

    Always to good to hear from you. Thank you.

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