ABC Family’s Secret Life of the American Teenager is laughably bad both in quality and in the messages it sends across about teen sexuality. The show was created by Brenda Hampton, the mastermind behind long-running family series 7th Heaven, which had plenty of ridiculous storylines of its own. Luckily, I’m older and know better than to take sex advice from a TV show, but here’s some of what Secret Life is trying to “teach” you.
1. The better the sex you have, the more likely that a family member will die.
Grace was from a religious family and had decided to wait until marriage to have sex. But after her boyfriend Jack kept pressuring her, she finally gave in. Almost immediately after the sex, Grace’s dad died suddenly. The moral of this story? If you don’t wait until marriage, any family deaths are your fault.
2. When you masturbate, you should put rose petals all over your bed and listen to romantic music.
True love waits … for itself. On Secret Life, when Grace decided that masturbating was a good alternative to sex, she had a romantic scene where she led herrself upstairs by the hand to a bed with rose petals strewn all over it and popped a CD into the player. (The kicker: the song Grace chose for her big moment was “When I Think About You I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls.)
3. Getting married in high school is not only adorable, it’s something your parents will approve of and encourage.
When Amy was pregnant by a guy she’d slept with once and wasn’t dating, what did she do? Accept a proposal from geeky Ben, who was in love with her and prepared to raise the child as his own. This could have been a nice storyline in a romcom, but Amy and Ben were both fifteen years old. Not only that, but their attempted marriage was portrayed as sweet and endearing, plus Ben’s dad (more about him later) was completely on board with the idea.