Thoughts from my study of Horror, Media, and Narrrative

Posts tagged “The Secret Life of the American Teenager

I Like to Watch


My friends and I have developed a new word to describe a particular situation that occurs when one of us is incensed about something.


Okay, so in reality, it’s more like a brief fit, but a Shantrum includes a specific set of actions (and immunity from judgment if called beforehand).

When I write these articles, I typically think about what moves me enough to warrant a Shantrum. This week it was a clip on The Soup from the television show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. From its inception, I have had issues with this show, but one particular scene pushed me over the edge:  a girl saying that by having sex (and good sex at that), she caused her father to die.

<insert Shantrum>

What kind of message are we sending to our young people? I assume that this show is targeted toward teens and pre-teens and this is the message that we are conveying about sex? That having sex could cause a parent to die? That is just not right. Now, I’m not saying that we should go toward the other extreme and necessarily encourage our children to be carefree about sex, but why would you want to instill a sense of shame and guilt in them over something that they are probably going to do anyway?

The most harmful thing, however, I think would be the refusal by parents to discuss this sort of topic with their children. I assume that this process is difficult but what happens when messages such as these are internalized without thought? Again, people are free to refrain from sex if they choose to but I think that most people would agree that it is a very extreme and unlikely case that sex would actually be responsible for someone else’s death.

The messages that we get from media are quite powerful, perhaps in part because they manage to slip under our radar. When we watch television, we are not expecting to be preached at or taught, but I think that sometimes we end up learning a life lesson anyway.

As you are watching shows, think about how the sexual situations depicted are similar to, or differ from, your own life. Do things seem dissimilar on the surface but contain a relatable theme? What is a show trying to teach you about sex? How are characters modeling behavior regarding sexual situations?