Parent reviews for The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Common Sense says

Heartfelt drama tackles teen sex, pregnancy, parenthood.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 82 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 183 reviews
Parent of an infant and 3-year-old Written byJJ Math July 3, 2016

What Age Group?

I suggest fourteen or older because it often refers to sex. It doesn't show anything other than make out sessions, a shirtless guy, and some sheets, but the talk is my main concern. It follows a young girl who gets pregnant who has to deal with a child, and crazy highschool drama.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Sexy stuff
Adult Written byAndromeda July 21, 2009

Terrible show with mixed messages, not good for anybody

To be honest, I have only seen a few episodes of this show because it's so unspeakably bad I have to leave the room rather to refrain from speaking my mind while my sister (a fan) watches the show.

First, let me comment on the quality of the TV show. To say the acting is bad is a gross understatement. I can't even think of a comparison to how bad the acting is. It's just that bad. To be fair, any actor would have a hard time working with the inconsistent, unrealistic, practically nonsensical drivel that passes for dialog in this show. Watch one episode (without the kids) and ask yourself how many people actually talk like that? The story is contrived, predictable and uninspired. The character development is disgraceful. Just when you get to know a character, he or she says something completely out of character just to drive home some "point" or put someone in their place. Characters who at first were kind turn out to be just as mean and petty as everyone else. The two characters who use people the most both turn out to have unresolved "daddy issues." The writers treat the characters like they're all the same person raised in different circumstances. The writers must have absolutely no knowledge of biology, psychology, or basic human nature. This show is too bad even to laugh at. It's just that awful.

Now on to the messages. Many people give this show credit for having dialog about sex. Having an honest, open, and complete dialog about sex is one thing. Filling dialog with people talking about sex is quite another. All anyone ever talks about is sex. Yes, teens will sometimes talk about sex, but not nearly to this extent, and not in this manner. The phony sex "dialog" is not my biggest complaint, however. The cruelty and immaturity of all the characters (including the adults) goes to Desperate Housewives levels. All they ever think about are their immediate needs and wants, unless they're having a conveniently placed worry about the future that's forgotten by the next scene. Worst of all, the show gives mixed messages. At the end of the show the actors say "It might seem like everyone is having sex, but they're not..." but EVERYONE ON THE SHOW IS DOING IT!!! That's as bad as if Michael Vick said "It's bad to hurt dogs" after each bloody dogfight. The hypocrisy is repulsive! The last statistic I read said that half of all teenagers have not had sex by the time they graduate high school. If this steaming pile of a show was an example, 95% of teens would be having sex, and having it in contrived, stupid circumstances. Finally, let me address the issue of teen pregnancy. Even though it's a subject in every episode, it's dealt with so superficially as to be practically useless. Maybe I missed too many episodes, but that girl had one easy pregnancy, and oh, how quickly her body returned to a size 0. How unfortunate that her baby only stops crying when Daddy is near. Could the writers not think of even one REAL health issue that afflicts babies? How unbelievably stupid!

The bottom line is this show is absolutely awful in every respect. It's too inconsistent and hypocritical to be a positive influence, and it's too stupid and poorly made to be entertaining. If you want a good show about teen pregnancy, watch Juno. If you have extremely low standards and limit your activities to staring at glowing rectangles with moving images on them, watch Secret Life. No. Don't. Battlefield Earth is better than Secret Life of an American Teenager.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written bySara K. August 19, 2016

Just one thing..

Yes, not for tween, but it is okay for teenagers who are responsible, and can handle "teen talkish" what I mean by that, they talk about sex all the time, but the story part is good. Also, they do not show any "nudity" that's good.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byWonderBlake August 11, 2018

Not The Family Show It Claims to Be

I understand what ABC Family is trying to do here. They are trying to encourage an open dialogue about sex between teenagers and their parents in order to help prevent teenage pregnancy, but I think they took it to the extreme. All the characters talk incessantly about sex with their parents. One notable character is Grace, the Christian girl in the series, who was constantly asking her mother for permission to have sex. Personally, I thought that if she had to ask her mother's permission to have sex, then clearly she wasn't mature enough to have sex. Like, just practice safe sex and shut the hell up already. Why you gotta drag your mom into this so frequently? You're 16. Use a condom and your birth control pills and call it a day already. That was awkward to watch with my 13 year old niece, but the tip of the iceberg came when Grace's mother had to sit down with her constantly-horny daughter and encourage her to masturbate as a way to alleviate her sexual urges. When Grace didn't express knowledge as far as how to masturbate, her mother instructed her on how to do it. Then Grace goes upstairs (presumably after announcing to her entire family of what she's about to do since even her brother was aware of the fact that she was masturbating up there) and does her thing, after which she then proceeds to come downstairs with the biggest smile on her face to give her mother a report on her masturbation session. Once again, I get it. ABC Family is trying to encourage open dialogue about sex between parents and their kids, but this was absolutely absurd. I can't imagine any teenager wanting their parents in on their masturbation habits and I don't think that is something that parents themselves want to know about and discuss with their kids, but ABC Family knew no limits in this show and that can make for some extremely uncomfortable moments if you are attempting to watch this show as a family as it is not a family show and it does take the open dialogue thing to the extreme. My niece and I stopped watching the show together after they got into the whole masturbation thing because it just became way too uncomfortable for her to watch it with me and the feeling was quite mutual on my end.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byTanika A. May 13, 2018

Most annoying show on TV

This show has to be one of the most annoying shows that I've tried to watch. All the characters whine constantly about sex and finding love from the young age of 15. The characters can't deal with reality and constantly complain when they don't get what they want. They base everything on the textbook love, sex and marriage, a scene can't end without sex or love being brought up... It's too much. The acting is terrible and the characters lack on screen chemistry. Romance movies and series are know for the onscreen chemistry between the characters, however, couples in this series lack, for example, Amy and Ricky all their interactions are plain and just as they were written on the script, no emotion! Overall, this show is very irritating to watch, unrealistic and 5 seasons too long!

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Consumerism
Adult Written byScarlettSwan March 17, 2017

The Not-So Secret Life of the Inaccurate Teenagers

SPOILER ALERT: I think this show is all about sex and how is the epitome of being cool in high school. I don't remember one episode that didnt talk about sex. I also do not remember any characters who hadn't had sex in the show or at least discussed having sex. The show occassionally states how 50% of high schoolers don't have sex but fail to show that on the show. Yes there was Ashley Jurgens who waited but she was tempted to sleep with Ricky and almost did. Another thing although Ashley and Ricky are my favorite characters and the best of the show, they are still debatable role models. Everyone on the show seems to have some questionable morals or are plain bad role models. Surprisingly it doesnt even have to do with the three teenage pregnanies that were discussed. It was more of why any of the characters did any of their decision. Ben always makes his decisions because of Amy or to get back at Amy. He married another women to make Amy jealous!
No one is ever held responsible for their bad actions except for maybe Ricky who got Amy pregnant in the first place. Even Amy got to leave her son and go to New York not once but three times (to be fair one was only for a few days). Also although they did discuss the LGBTQ+ community I found no good moments in those episodes to say "this show is LGBTQ+ friendly". Yeah sure most of them dont care who is gay or straight but they also dont understand that that is a big deal to some people. In the entirety of the show there were only a handful of LGBTQ+ characters and if I'm not mistaken they were all either gay or lesbians. So the diversity is somewhat there? As a final note I would like to point out that nothing in the whole show was truly a secret for long. Any and every secret the characters had were spread around to the whole school. From Amy's mother being gay to the fact that Ricky goes to therapy.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byRyan G. December 8, 2016

Sociopathic narcissism

This is completely unfit for anyone to watch, ever. The poorly acted characters portray sex and teenage pregnancy with such a level of complacent narcissism and entitlement that I actually feel less intelligent after having being forced to witness this pathetic attempt at entertainment. I truly believe any funds that were contributed to the production of this completely unrealistic version of reality would have certainly been more well spent on programs to help teenage mothers, not on some false version of reality that minimizes the significance of responsibility.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byRupa D. August 7, 2016

Really, Don't bother watching this show. Just BAD.

Oh my god! Really. This is the worst show I have ever seen. It's simply terrible. Firstly, the acting. If you can get past the acting then the dialogues will kill you. And somehow, if acting and dialogues don't bother you, the story is totally biased. After a few episodes, you'll notice that the character of Amy and Ricky are the worst and still every other character in the show is shunned down. The storyline is really bad.
I simply didn't understand what was going on in the show after one point, and how did they have even a dollar to throw away at such a show!
I just felt that the creator of the show seems to miss the basics of rights and wrongs of life. This show isn't worth watching for anyone other than maybe 2 year olds who don't care what's going on in the show.
Parent of a 9, 10, 13, 15, and 15-year-old Written byGooniesNeverSayDie85 July 26, 2016

Intriguing and very emotional

My 13 yr old loves Shailene Woodly and when we discovered this show on Netflix I watched it with her. Although there is a lot of sex and drama we were instantly hooked! The characters are bad role models and make stupid decisions. After my daughter and I watch this show we have long lengthy conversations about it! It's just a tv show, although if your child is influenced with what they see on tv I'd hold off on this show.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Sexy stuff
Adult Written bylisanbrianb November 29, 2015

very inappropriate

This show is very raunchy and should not be watched by anyone it's terrible.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult Written byaliinwonderland 430 July 2, 2015

um..

Lots of sex teen sex. Some episodes mention masturbation. And a few teens get pregnant. Not for kids under 13

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Parent of a 14 and 17-year-old Written byGeorgia Wilson March 28, 2015
Adult Written byCelestine E. September 25, 2013

Let's fall in love!

The show addresses teen pregnancy, sex, abstinence, homosexuality, and promiscuity. It shows the consequences of the actions the people in the show make. I am not against homosexuality. Abstinence is the best choice for all or most children and teens.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Sexy stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult Written byangry-mom September 5, 2013

Not for teens!!!

This show is extremely focused around teenagers in high school having sex. The producers are not capturing the essence of reality and this show is not showing teens the true struggle of being a teen mom. There are no known struggles about caring for a child and having to live life daily. The fact of the matter is that whether or not sex is being talked about in a good or bad way, it is still being talked about. Young teens are very influenced by their surroundings and for the teens who watch this show religiously, they are being brainwashed with the idea of underage sex. This is not a family show so I am confused why it is even aired on ABC family! Do not let your children watch this show! The media is exposing teens to things that they do not need to be aware of at age 15. Its for the best that this series is off the air.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byjh67 August 1, 2013

Depicts young teenage girls as gullible sex objects

I am a 19-yr old college student. I am writing here to express how much I hate this show that my 15-yr old sister is seemingly addicted to.

Entertaining to the educated, but a threat and needless to say garbage to the youth. Poor plot construction (it basically just revolves around sex and friendships ruined because of this).

I say this because it patronizes the vulnerable minds of today's youth to engage in unhealthy relationships, as if to say that it's ok to break friendships in exchange for sex, to be more popular, to get ahead in the "game." This is demoralizing and a corrupting our values.

There are shows like Teen Mom which I think is okay. It shows kids the responsibility/struggles that teen moms face after having kids. You gain something out of it. It adds value. It helps kids today realize that it's okay to have sex but you know, there are consequences.

In this show, girls are seen as nothing but a bunch of gullible sexual objects, being passed around from guy to guy--no direction in life. Girls cheat from each other and break friendships. It glamorizes teen girls and makes them seem "cool" among their peers. Reminds me of the young, stubborn and rebellious girls in the Maury show who don't even know the man who fathered her kid. Entertaining, sure. But who really wants to be THAT girl?

When it's the vulnerable kid next door, your younger sister, or your own daughter, do you really want her to watch this or would you rather guide her to the right direction and not commit the same mistakes others did? Do you really want that little girl grow up and have ambitions and a good head over her shoulders, but rather a sl*t who sleeps with anyone and has no self-respect. Wake up, America. You all are smarter than that.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language
Parent Written byLoveCzar June 27, 2013

Great show for older teens and young adults, not for younger kids.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager is a very true-to-life show about a teen girl, Amy Juergens, getting pregnant. Although being pregnant as a teen is most of the time, not a great thing, it does have multiple positive messages, like Amy having to make up her mind on who she really loves and the fact that BOTH Ben and Ricky help her out during her pregnancy and when the baby is born. Because this show is focused on sex and teenage pregnancy, there is a lot of talk about sex, birth control, condoms, and pregnancy tests. Also, one parent, comes out as being gay and one student in high school loves talking about and having sex. There is mild language such as bi***, s**t, w***e, c**p, d**n and h**l.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Sexy stuff
Language
Adult Written byTacoSpartan June 4, 2013

Good Riddance

I’m flippin’ pleased as punch that the crap shoot of a show that is supposed to teach about teen pregnancy, but actually WORKS AGAINST SAID MESSAGE, “The Secret Life Of An American Teenager” is over and done. I’m completely dumbfounded as to why anyone would watch this train-wreck. Not only is sex the ONLY thing these characters think about and talk about, the characters themselves are absolutely ATROCIOUS. They’re selfish, cruel, HORRIBLE daughters/sons/parents. Their so-called love stories are never the least bit genuine, and the main character Amy is honestly worse than Bella Swan. I’M NOT JOKING. This girl is horrible. She’s an absolute horror to watch and honestly, I just wish the end of the show features her dead and alone. But no, she ends up getting what she wants, after cheating, lying, being rude and hateful, and a horrible parent. And this show has a horrible message and that “prevent teen pregnancy thing” just goes down the drain.

What does this show ACTUALLY teach?

~Being pregnant makes guys want you.

~Not having sex will RUIN even the best relationships.

~Having sex with a guy will make them fall in love with you.

~Being an absolutely horrible daughter to your parents is OK. Even if they just want the best for you.

~Everybody’s a cheater. Not having willpower is ace.

~Divorce is easy! Marriage isn’t that big of a deal!

Just watch an episode and see this horrible crap. Not only will you be rich if you had 5 dollars for each time the characters say, “sex, babies, pregnancy, marriage”, you’ll just see how awful these characters are.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Parent of a 12-year-old Written bykate6935 May 15, 2013

Terrible for teens. Sends a terrible message to teenagers

I have a 12 yr old daughter and I even allow her to watch some R movies with me. After seeing this show several times, I will not allow her to watch it again. The word sex is used about 50 times in each episode. Go ahead parents, take a look. Can believe ABC calls this a family show. Shame on ABC.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byAeolusX July 25, 2012

Good Show, Honest Review!!

This show really tells teens what the message is about regarding teen pregnancy and being abstinent to it. I, myself, got touched and got emotional about the whole story and ive only been watching for a little while. This show can explain the struggles and hardships that teens may encounter if ever they end up getting pregnant or is having a baby. Please dont consider other reviews as to being bad and not kids appropriate and just watch it and see for yourselves if it fits your own thinking and if you agree or not. But i really do recommend this show for a good example and detailed explanation towards the subject.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Sexy stuff
Language
Adult Written bychristian-witness June 28, 2012

very poor

Very frequent discussions about having sex, engaging (or not engaging) in sexual activity, teen pregnancy and parenthood, and other related issues. Teens are shown kissing/making out, but not much more. One teen boy has multiple "conquests" and was molested as a child by his father.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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