A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Pregnancy Project is based on a true story of a high school senior who faked her own pregnancy to examine stereotypes about teen moms for a senior project. There are some frank discussions about unintended pregnancy. Some smooching between the teen and her boyfriend, who are presumed to be sexually active, and references to condoms and safe sex. She and a few other key players in the project lie to parents, friends, and adults to keep the project going. There is some mild profanity ("bitch," "douche"). Overall the movie upends uncomfortable stereotypes about poverty, teen pregnancy rates, and their outcome and presents a positive message and asks challenging questions -- but to do so, it must confront those stereotypes dead on. The film is likely to inspire lots of questions and discussion among teens and parents.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Straight-A student Gaby Rodriguez has been told time and time again not to get pregnant like her mother did as a teenager, or her sister, or her brother's wife. She and her boyfriend, Jorge (Walter Perez), are well-aware of the risks, but the lecturing doesn't stop. Tired of the assumptions that she will end up pregnant, and in need of a challenging idea for a senior project, she decides to fake her own pregnancy for senior year. Enlisting the help of her mom, friend, and boyfriend and with her teachers' approval, she endures the scrutiny and shunning of her classmates and teachers to examine and confront the stereotypes about what happens to teenage girls who find themselves pregnant and unprepared. Along the way she must reconcile the risk she takes to her reputation and the relationships she and her boyfriend must deceive to see the project through.
Is it any good?
Though many parents will find the premise of THE PREGNANCY PROJECT questionable, it's hard to deny the merit of confronting damaging stereotypes about teen pregnancies. Here, it's done in a way that touches on poverty and Hispanic communities that statistically deal more with these issues. At its core is a brilliant question that is only touched upon and never quite answered: To make a point about the risks inherent in teen pregnancy, do we have to throw teen mothers under the bus? That is to say, must we see them as tragic victims with no options, their lives squandered? Must we paint them as pathetic? Or can we show them as young women facing obstacles but not insurmountable ones? The film spends most of its time showing how hurtful these assumptions are to the women experiencing such circumstances, and near the end it finally heads in the direction it ought to get to sooner: It's just as important to provide resources for teen mothers to help them weather this obstacle as it is to preach prevention.
Exploring this topic requires navigating some mature subject matter: Sex is not discussed very explicitly, but there are lots of references to being "knocked up" or to the type of girl who finds herself there, condoms are mentioned, and one is dropped in class and handed back to a student by a teacher. A class shows teen mothers learning about gestation. The couple at the center of the film is very affectionate and presumably is sexually active. The focus here is far more about the relationships and depictions of pregnant teens and the way they're shamed and shunned than it is about providing young people with facts, so although there is a strong don't-get-pregnant-too-young, safe-sex message, this is not a good source for sex education. Better for watching with teens to bring up a more challenging level of thought surrounding all the safe-sex talk that's hopefully already happening.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about teen pregnancy. Do you think Gaby's project helps the conversation about teen pregnancy or hurts it? Why?
Do you think Gaby was wrong to lie about being pregnant to friends, parents, and teachers, even if the outcome was a powerful one?
How does this film compare to shows such as 16 and Pregnant? Do you think teen pregnancy is still as stigmatized?
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