In 2009, MTV introduced viewers to a quartet of pregnant teens. Nearly six years, a few breakups, more babies, jail time, a sex tape and four seasons of a spin-off later, Maci Bookout, Amber Portwood, Catelynn Lowell and Farrah Abraham are back on TV, and a lot has changed.
Ahead of the Teen Mom OG premiere (Monday, 10/9c), we sat down with all four girls about why it was time to return to TV after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, how their lives have changed and what to expect (more babies!) from the upcoming season.
Why was now the right time to return to the show?
Maci Bookout: I felt like I was such a different person when the show last aired. I've really grown up, and not just because I have a kid and responsibilities, but mentally and emotionally. I thought it would be cool to show how different we are and how far we've come in the past two or three years since we've been off the air. Also, [I wanted] to show people that just because the show went off, it doesn't get any easier. When you're teen parents, it's hard forever. The struggles don't go away; they're just different.
Amber Portwood: Of course there was a little hesitation, but I was excited. When I first got out of prison, I wanted to prove myself, obviously, and show everybody that I'm not that addict from back in the day. I want to show the changes I've made and everything is pretty positive. I sometimes get in little fights with Gary, but he's probably the only person in my life I fight with. It's gotten to the point where we don't communicate that much unless it's about [my daughter] Boo Boo. I also wanted my name to be cleared, and I felt like I should have that right. I think people expect negativity and yelling and cussing and fighting from me — cussing hasn't really stopped — but when things happen to me now I'm aware of everything in that situation and I'm not fogged up, so I can make a good judgment.
Farrah Abraham: I was reluctant, as you'll see, to come back, and it was awkward and interesting for the executives to call me and say, 'We need you back.' The reasons were more for Sophia, and if anything, I'd like her to be a part of something that she was a part of from her birth. For myself, I feel like it's going backwards in my life and I've moved on. So it was a little difficult ... but I'm letting it be open. If it's adult entertainment that people are curious about, and that's what [the show] pushes to see a lot of, then I hope others can expand their thoughts about being so small-minded.
Catelynn Lowell: There was a little bit of hesitation in the fact of us having Nova, and we didn't know if we wanted her involved in this stuff. Of course me and Tyler from the beginning have always done this show to educate about adoption and showing how that works so we wanted to continue that, and that's why we decided to jump on and do it again.
In the trailer, everyone seems shocked about Farrah's return.
Catelynn: At first, we were like, "We knew it!" We thought it was no big deal, we're all adults, but sitting down and thinking about it and talking to our other cast members too we were nervous about her coming back. We felt like, a good idea for ratings, but a bad idea for the whole moral compass of the show. We did this show for a reason and that reason was to educate girls and teach them to better themselves and maybe wait to get pregnant, and we still feel like it's not all that great [to have her back] because I don't want young girls thinking you can just go out and basically sell yourself. That's just not a good moral compass to be giving to young women.
Farrah: There's definitely no excuse for one person being the oddball and being negative and that's just sad and I wish her family all the best.
Maci, how are things with Bentley's father Ryan now?
Maci: The show does a good job of bringing up things I maybe push under the rug, so I just got so used to Ryan not being around and it was nice; we didn't have to argue. I communicated with his parents because, to me, they're the parents. But when we started filming again, it brings all that back out and makes me realize it's still an issue and I can't hide from it. I don't know if and when it'll change, but right now I don't put energy into trying to fix Ryan. I have a family I have to worry about. I also have to remember it's not about me, and I'm not always right, and it's about Bentley. Even if I might not like what Ryan is saying or asking for, if it's best for Bentley, I need to shut up and deal with it. So it's definitely a big part of the season, which aggravates me, because it makes it seem like my relationship with my boyfriend is based around Ryan and that's not the case.
Amber, in the premiere you seem sad that Gary has moved on.
Amber: At the beginning, it was a completely different story from now — I wanted my family back together. When I realized Gary was with Christina, I realized that we didn't have anything anymore and I was trying to make something out of nothing. And you see that your relationship is so toxic, and if you were together you'd be so unhappy. When you meet that person you love (I'm engaged now), everything to falls into place and you tend to move on and my life now is a lot better because of it and Boo Boo is really happy too.
Farrah, you have a new boyfriend as well?
Farrah: I have a great person in our lives now, and it's a boyfriend I've been dating for three months. I can only hope after [Couples Therapy] and Dr. Jenn that I have a very good picker now.
Maci, you have a new boyfriend and a baby on the way! Will we see that?
Maci: Taylor is great. We've been together for two-and-a-half years, and in July he moved from Texas to Tennessee when we first started filming. That was a crazy time. We moved in together, we started filming, I got a job the same month, he got a new job and my son was playing all-star baseball; it was all new. At the beginning of the season, he was still in the "this is awkward; this is weird" stage, so it seems like he's quiet and all he does is ask about Ryan. By the end of the season, he's himself.
When we found out we were pregnant, we waited a few weeks and then I called the executive producers and told them and said, "Can you keep it quiet from my producers?" We can have these conversations on-camera now and I wanted to [surprise] them, so when they came down to film, we got to tell them the news on camera.
Are you happy this season breaks the fourth wall and shows production?
Maci: I love it. Before, such a huge part of our life was hidden and it was hard to be 100 percent real because we're pretending we're not on TV or that we don't have a million followers on Twitter. Also, there are many situations in the past when we're filming a scene and we're aggravated and all of our anger is escalated because there are people in your house, audio, lights, cameras and then you have a kid running around who can't get up because [production] doesn't want to mess up the scene, so on top of the aggravation from what's really going on, you have all this other sh--. It'll really show how overwhelming being on a TV show is.
Catelynn, you and Tyler had your daughter Novalee in January. Will we see more interactions with your first child's adoptive parents?
Catelynn: We sit down with Brandon and Teresa and talk about a lot of our fears and their insecurities, and what our relationship looks like for the future. Some of their fears are how Carly is going to react [to Novalee] and we're not going to come out and say, "This is your sister." We'll say, "This is Nova," just like I'm Caitlyn and that's Tyler. We're still trying to figure out how to navigate that and figure out how we're going to work it into our relationships. That was a really intense scene, and I'm excited for people to see that because I'm pretty sure a lot of birth parents and adoptive parents have thought about sitting down and talking with each other and are probably to nervous to do so.
Farrah, what's the one thing you hope viewers take away about you after this season?
Farrah: I don't really hope for certain things, but you get to see way more sides of me than ever in the past. It's very entertaining, my life, and Vegas is a wild roller coaster between doing AVN work, hosting huge nightclub parties, day parties. It's pretty intense for me to even live and I can't believe I'm there. I've really grown as a woman from writing all these erotic romance novels, [doing the] sex tape and traveling and working. In my little family nothing is ever the same, everything keeps changing for the better, and I only like to have positivity and progress around me.
Teen Mom OG premieres on Monday at 10/9c on MTV.
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