WARNING! The following interview contains a major spoiler about the upcoming Secret Life episodes.
Just as Ben and Adrian are ready to settle into married life and parenthood, they're going to be hit with a devastating blow — the loss of their baby. Ken Baumann, who plays Ben, says the tragedy will not only devastate the couple in The Secret Life of The American Teenager, it will change the course of every relationship in the series.
TVGuide.com spoke to the 21-year-old actor about the episode (Monday, June 6, 8/7c, ABC Family), and how he and Adrian (Francia Raisa) will cope.
Were you surprised by creator Brenda Hampton's decision to have Ben and Adrian lose their baby?
I think it was only fair and logical that we would show a pregnancy that succeeds and is fine — difficult and challenging, but fine — and then ... show a couple of kids who messed up pretty severely and they choose to be responsible and it bites them in the ass. This is a terrible reality for so many people and to show that and hopefully connect with some of those people and show them that they too are recognized — it was a respectful thing to do and also brave to show. In my TV watching experience, and I watch a pretty good deal of television, I've never seen this situation in this context dealt with before. This show has always done a pretty decent job of offering a wide range of experience and not just focusing in on one glamorous version of a story. It's going to devastate them.
How did you prepare to film such an emotional episode?
It's rare that I find myself reading any script on any project and start to get emotional, but on this one I did — it felt so overwhelmingly real. I got anticipatory because I knew a lot of what I'd have to say and perform was going to be tough, but I didn't feel nervous because I knew if this situation affected me so heavily just while reading it that it wouldn't be that difficult to feel that and recreate that.
You and Steve Schirripa had some heavy stuff to tackle.
Baumann: There's a scene we have in the hallway when he asked if I got to see her, the stillborn baby, and that was the point when I read it where I was like this is so brutal. Then seeing Steve choke up like that, you don't want to see a big man cry like that, and it was incredibly contagious. That was the most emotional moment of the episode for me.
How will Ben and Adrian recover from this?
Baumann: It's going to be tough. That experience can completely drive people apart, but in Ben and Adrian's situation they can't just run away from each other and they won't for a while. Everything becomes way more emotionally convoluted and just depressed and challenging. These two kids have to individually deal with that tragedy of losing what they felt was a big part of them and at the same time they're still kids ... It's definitely a more interesting and nuanced version of a relationship after this big event.
Are there good times ahead for them after this?
The season we're filming now has been great and, like reality, people recover and recovery is sometimes painfully and comically absurd. Their relationship grows and changes and through the increasing difficulty they have to face dealing with friends and feeling ostracized and totally alone, they have moments where they find happiness and struggle to climb up the cliff. It may take awhile, but there are moments of exciting light in their paths.
Before they lose the baby, they get married. Talk a little bit about that.
Baumann: There are really interesting, subtle character moments with Ben and Adrian in regards to getting married: What they think about their past, are they still looking outside their relationship and thinking about the future, are they drawn to other people and are they drawn to ex-loves? It will be a really interesting couple of episodes because you'll see everyone coalesce around this idea of a birth, a new little person entering their lives, and then to see it all fall apart. Certain people and couples come together. It's going to be really climactic and it changes everything; it really does, it changes every relationship.
The Secret Life of the American Teenager airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC Family.