A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show revolves around teen sex and its consequences presented in a thoughtful way. Later seasons feature themes such as marriage, divorce, and homosexuality.
Positive Role Models
The upper-middle-class characters are a realistically flawed bunch and sometimes make iffy decisions.
Violence & Scariness
Occasional mild arguments. A baby dies. A later episode features an accidental shooting. Sexual assault and child molestation are discussed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Topics include sex, virginity, promiscuity, pregnancy, parenthood, and other related issues.
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Words such as "laid," "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Very occasional drinking (wine, beer).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the soapy teen drama The Secret Life of the American Teenager (aka Secret Life), which is produced by the creator of 7th Heaven, centers on the consequences of a teenage girl's unexpected pregnancy. It addresses the various ways that teens think about and cope with sex (including abstinence and promiscuity), pregnancy, and parenthood, all from a relatively upper-middle-class point of view. Marriage, divorce, and homosexuality are themes in later seasons. The stories can be controversial, but the heartfelt way the topics are introduced provides a solid foundation for discussing them with teens and even older tweens. Expect some mild language (words such as "laid") and specific references to virginity, Christianity, and the Bible.
Is It Any Good?
Secret Life introduces various points of view about teenage sexual behavior and its consequences by showing how different (albeit still fairly stereotypical) teens develop their own thoughts and feelings about sex, relationships, and growing up. It also looks at how the choices they make affect not only them but everyone around them. The fact that this family drama introduces its various (and often controversial) story lines from an upper-middle-class perspective means that viewers don't get much of the real-world grittiness you might expect when dealing with these issues. Although that's not exactly realistic, it does mean that the show's themes are presented in a relatively wholesome, heartfelt context that's both entertaining and non-threatening.
That said, despite good performances by notable actors Molly Ringwald and John Schneider, the show's dialogue often seems over-manufactured. There also are frequently moments that feel didactic, especially when parents and mentors offer contrived thoughts and advice about teens and premarital sex. But Secret Life does a good job of highlighting the pressure that many of today's teens experience while living in a society that seems to glorify sexual behavior. It also provides a foundation that parents can use to start and/or continue conversations with teens about sex, pregnancy, and parenthood. Although the subject matter isn't age-appropriate for young kids, parents may want to watch with older tweens who are preparing to enter junior or senior high school and talk to them about some of these issues.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.