Bristol Palin & ABC Family: A Match Made in (7th) Heaven
Proving that having a child out of wedlock can bring people everything from naked magazine spreads to acting gigs, Bristol Palin has signed on to appear in an episode of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” a show on ABC Family that revolves around a teen mom and her classmates.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the show’s creator Brenda Hampton (also the creator of a similar family drama obsessed with sex, “7th Heaven”), is stoked to have nabbed Palin: “Bristol Palin is the most famous teenage mother in America. We’re thrilled to have her join us, and I think she will bring additional attention to the issues facing teen parents that we’ve been exploring for a couple of seasons now.”
Hampton is of course, misleading when she suggests that “Secret Life” explores issues facing teen parents. No, as I’ve written before, the show explores one thing and one thing only: sex. Characters on the show can’t have a conversation about breakfast cereal, or take a math test, without the entire scene somehow, inexplicably, devolving into a conversation about sex.
When the main character, Amy, gets pregnant, she spends far more time worrying about whether to have sex with her current boyfriend (not the baby’s father) than she does considering her options, or preparing for motherhood. Every other character on the show uses Amy’s situation – whether they know her well or not – to either talk about her sex life, or to introduce the topic of their own sex lives.
I guess this makes Bristol Palin a perfect guest star, since she’s confused about her own message as well. Here’s how Slate characterized her role as an abstinence spokeswoman:
There’s a dissonance between Bristol’s real life and her public persona. In reality she’s suing her baby’s daddy for child support and is in the middle of a messy custody fight. On Oprah, she’s a cleanly scrubbed role model for America’s girls who says she’s going to be celibate until she gets a ring.
In the past, she’s admitted that abstinence is unrealistic, but has backtracked from those sentiments, I would guess because there’s more money to be made peddling herself as a re-born virgin.
Again, I say they’re a perfect match: “Secret Life” is a world in which otherwise mild-mannered, average teens don’t care about college prep classes or football games – there is only sex, sex and sex. Yet it’s packaged somehow in a way that has made it palatable to a channel that presumes to cater to good Christian families that likely expect their kids to have other things on their minds. Therefore, a girl who goes on FOX News and Oprah wearing conservative dresses and talking up virginity pledges but who actually has a living, breathing reminder of the fact that she, too, had sex belongs on just such a show.