16 and Pregnant: MTV Explores the Real Secret Life
From Juno to Secret Life of the American Teenager, recent portrayals of pregnant teens in entertainment have been largely scripted scenarios. Even Bristol Palin, Gov. Sarah Palin's teenage daughter who gave birth in December, was subject to orchestration at media events. But starting Thursday (June 11, 10 pm/ET), MTV's 16 and Pregnant will offer a fresh take on the topic, in a six-part documentary series that reveals what real teens go through when they try to juggle adolescence and adult responsibilities. TVGuide.com chatted with Maci, one of the teens featured on the show, about what she hopes other teens will take away from the series, how her pregnancy affected her relationship and how the media should approach stories like Bristol Palin's and those of other teens like her.
TVGuide.com: Why did you decide to participate in 16 and Pregnant, and invite cameras into your life?
Maci: When I was thinking about doing the show, I was thinking that if [it] got on the air and people [got to] see it, maybe it would show young girls and even boys that they need to protect themselves from getting pregnant and getting in the situation I'm in because of how hard it is. And maybe they would realize what you actually have to go through. Also, I wanted girls that were already pregnant to realize how many options they had, and what they could to make their lives better, and how, even though it's hard ... it's not impossible to still be happy when you're in this situation.
TVGuide.com: What did you see as the purpose of the show? Do you think it condones teen pregnancy, or takes a point of view?
Maci: I definitely don't think it's headed toward that direction. I think [the producers] specifically made the show, and are pointing it toward prevention of teen pregnancy. They want people to see all kinds of different points of view. ... I think it's to show people that, even though most people think teen pregnancy is such a negative thing, there are teens out there that actually take on the responsibility and do what they need to do.
TVGuide.com: But this hasn't all been easy for you and your boyfriend Ryan, with whom you had your baby. How have you two been working things out?
Maci: Even when we found out I got pregnant, we were doing really good. I think, the further along I got in my pregnancy, the more scared we got, and then after I had [my son] Bentley, we were both just trying to adjust to being parents and being young and making the relationship work.
TVGuide.com: It seems like both your sets of parents have been very supportive through everything. But have there been any stumbling blocks along the way?
Maci: Since the very beginning, both our parents have been really, really supportive of us. I think both of our [sets of] parents knew that we could handle this, because me and Ryan are both very strong people. And I think the biggest thing for them was having to worry about it. Because they knew how hard it was going to be for us to raise a baby and be together and make a relationship work...
TVGuide.com: What have been the biggest hurdles for you in having a child? What have you second-guessed or reconsidered the most?
Maci: I haven't ... second-guessed [myself]. I think I've made the right decisions the whole way, but I guess if I had to say, the hardest thing would probably be just having to ... miss out on a teenage life, and having to replace things that I would normally worry about, like what I'm going to wear to the football game on Saturday, [with] how I'm going to pay the electric bill.
TVGuide.com: Along with 16 and Pregnant, there a number of shows that portray what life is like for pregnant teens. What do you think of shows like Secret Life of the American Teenager? Are they realistic?
Maci: Definitely not... they make [Secret Life] really weird. I really don't think any part of it is how my situation was. There are different situations in a teen pregnancy ... but with [mine], I don't think that show has any of the same things.
TVGuide.com: Teen pregnancy also became a hotly contested topic during this past years' presidential election. What did you think of the kind of media attention that Bristol Palin received, and how she was portrayed?
Maci: [S]he seemed like she handled all the media attention ... very well. ... [But] to know what [Bristol Palin] was going through, I just felt bad because [the media] didn't know what we were going through, and we were handling it like adults, even though we're teenagers. And they just don't give us enough credit for what we're actually doing.