Ken Baumann, Secret Life of the American Teenager
The secret of The Secret Life of the American Teenager is out: Monday's Season 1 finale included the long-awaited birth of baby John and the beginning of Amy's new life with her boyfriend, Ben. But Ken Baumann, the multitalented 19-year-old behind the role — he's written two novels, and several stories you can read here — promises plenty of other secrets await. He talked to us about a major death when Season 2 starts in June, Ben's dynamic with Ricky, the father of Amy's baby, and whether Ben will finally get to stop solving everyone else's problems.
TVGuide.com: Ben is kind of a saint. He's always counseling the people around him, including the father of his girlfriend's baby and his own father. Will we ever see him freak out or reveal a not-so-good side?
Baumannn: Yes. There is certainly a little more temptation for Ben to go down the wicked path. And first of all, I'd like to thank you very much for being the first person to say Ben is a saint. I've never heard that before, but I've always kind of felt that reading the scripts, like, "Wow! This guy, he can just take it! He can take the pain!" But yeah, there's certainly a more challenging arc for Ben ahead. He's got a lot of problems that he's going to have to deal with. I can say that he does not get pregnant, so you can rule that out as a possibility.
TVGuide.com: Ben and Ricky work out a deal to be kind of co-dads in the season finale. But that can't last, can it?
Baumann: I think the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I think they're going to try. You know, who knows? I'm sure that that sort of situation has worked out, but I think it'll take a lot of patience and a lot of maturity from two hot-headed 15-year-old kids. But I think it's inevitable for it to crumble a little bit. It's not going to be perfect but it provides for some interesting television.
TVGuide.com: For Season 2, now that the baby's born and her secret life is kind of over, how does the focus of the show change?
Baumann: I think that the focus remarkably is still pretty centered on the family dynamic of the Juergens. Once you've had the baby, sure, the baby secret is revealed, but at the same time you're having a 15-year-old freshman in high school raise a child with two warring fathers and parents in the midst of a divorce and sister precariously balanced on the edge of good and bad. I think there's certainly enough to keep the show propelled.
There is no end to the drama. It seems to only have gotten a lot more complicated. I think, yeah, the secret's out but at the same time, these are all teenagers and they're going to create a never-ending recursive loop of secret-creation.
TVGuide.com: And someone dies next season?
Baumann: Yes, someone does die! I don't think I can disclose who...
TVGuide.com: Can you say how tragic it is? If we assume an old person's death is less tragic than a very young person's death...
Baumann: I'll tell you this: It's incredibly tragic and it has a very, very wide effect. Young and old alike, everyone is mourning. It certainly presents a lot of problems. ... I don't know if I can essentially say, "Oh, it's a kid," or "Oh, it's a parent," but everyone is affected, really harshly too. There are a few key younger people that are very affected.
TVGuide.com: But we can assume it's not the baby?
Baumann: Oh, God no. I will go so far as to say no. That would be awful, awful, awful.
TVGuide.com: Secret Life is one show that doesn't seem afraid to talk about religion. Does that apply to the cast too?
Baumann: I think that everyone realizes that the show from the get-go has been very morally centered. It definitely has a moral imperative. ... I grew up in Texas, so I grew up in the South, I kind of grew up in the bucket of the Bible belt, so the religious stuff with Grace and Jack, it certainly rings true. I knew kids like that. So I think everyone is on board because they realize it's well-written. We all believe it. If it was dealt with in a way that was just really over-the-top and two-dimensional, then I think you would have some division in the cast. But I think everyone's happy that that's being brought up because, my God, that's 40 percent or 35 percent of people in this country. So I think that by leaving that out you're kind of doing a disservice to your audience.
What did you think of the Secret Life finale? Are you excited for Season 2 in June?