When I Was 17

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
When I Was 17 TV Poster Image
Celebs reveal their teen selves and send some iffy messages.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrities reveal what they were like when they were 17, which sometimes includes iffy behavior. Some teens might equate this behavior with the celebs' success, sending a confusing message.

Positive Role Models

Some of the cast reveals that they participated in iffy behaviors at 17, including stealing, lying, and buying pornography.


Contains stories about cars being set on fire, traffic accidents, and other real-life events.


Contains some sexual innuendo. There are discussions about dating, homosexuality, gay porn, and other issues.


Words like “hell” are audible, while curses like “s--t” are bleeped. The word “f--k” is bleeped with mouths blurred.


Brand names are occasionally mentioned -- like Range Rover.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References are made to underage "partying". Watch for more detailed descriptions of underage drinking and substance abuse.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this upbeat docuseries -- which features interviews with celebrities describing what they were like when they were 17 -- contains narratives about some iffy behavior, including lying, stealing, underage drinking, and other inappropriate behaviors. Car makes like Honda Accords and Range Rovers are mentioned. Some sexual innuendo and discussion pops up, including conversations about being gay and references to pornography. Parents may want to watch with their kids, and discuss the appropriateness of some the behaviors described here.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5-year-old Written byjenifferhomes July 7, 2010

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What's the story?

WHEN I WAS 17 is an MTV series that reveals what some of today’s celebrities were like before they were famous. Each episode features interviews with three notable pop artists and/or icons who were born during the same year, and allows them to describe what they were like the year before becoming legal adults. Singers like Trey Songz, reality stars like Kim Kardashian, and tabloid bloggers like Perez Hilton share what they looked like, who their favorite celebs were, and in some cases, what their real names were. From planning their careers to breaking the rules, they describe some of the more notable moments that defined their 17th year. Childhood photographs and interviews with family members and friends confirm and/or expand on some of these memorable experiences.

Is it any good?

The upbeat series offers viewers a chance to learn more about the early personalities and interests of some of their favorite celebs. It also allows folks to see pictures of them when they were younger.

It’s definitely entertaining, but not all the narratives contain positive messages. Celebs humorously talk about stealing, disobeying rules, and other sneaky behaviors that teens would do well to not imitate. This aside, fans may be surprised at some of the details about their favorite celeb’s early years.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it’s like to be 17. Parents: What were you like when you were 17? What did you look like? What were your favorite singers, actors, etc.? What were your goals? Kids: What do you think you will be like when you are 17?

  • What behaviors may not be appropriate to engage in, even if other 17-year olds are doing it? How will/do you deal with peer pressure? Parents: Check out some of CSM's tips and advice about how to talk to your kids about some of these issues.

  • Does hearing celebrities talk about behaving badly make it seem OK? Are celebrities role models? What evidence from this show or the news do you have that these celebs should or shouldn't be considered role models?

TV details

  • Premiere date: May 1, 2010
  • Network: MTV
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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