16 and Pregnant.. Again?

Tonight MTV will premiere the first episode of the fourth season of  16 and Pregnant. The reality show which first aired in 2009, follows 16 -year-old high schools girls who face the difficulties of teenage pregnancy. I must admit that I love reality television as much as the next person, but when does exposure turn into exploitation? The first season did provide a surprisingly honest look into what teenage pregnancy can be like– and it wasn’t pretty, but how did this documentary based series turn into an enterprise?

Since the first season, the network has developed the spin-off series Teen Mom, which attracted 2.1 million viewers the night of its premiere in 2009, and follows four of the original girls. Each episode provided a deeper peek into the train-wreck that had become their lives. From domestic abuse to divorce, the series has attracted a following that can’t help themselves, but tune in to these somewhat depressing situations that come off more like a soap opera than a reality show. According to a report by MSNBC.com Amber Portwood, arguably the most drama-filled mama, makes $280,000 a year from the network.

The drama hasn’t stopped after the seasons either. Tabloids have loved featuring the Mom’s on their covers, wallowing in their twisted and complicated lives. Jenelle Evans, has landed herself in jail for drug use, Amber Portwood has been caught sending nudie pics and Farrah Abraham had a boob job, just to name a few.

I am definitely not here to judge these women, but as MTV prepares to delve into the lives of a new set of teenage mothers, it really makes me question what their motive is. Yeah, they feature a little clip of the itsyoursexlife.org website at the end of the episodes, but are they really helping raise awareness about the issues of teen pregnancy? I cannot tell you how many times the issue of teen pregnancy was raised in one of my college classes and a girl would raise her hand and claim that 16 and pregnant was helping bring light to the problem, but I really can’t agree. MTV has been progressive in addressing issues that other networks haven’t, which can be seen in their recent special “It Gets Better,” that was created in order to lend support to gay and transgender teens. But, after the first season of 16 and Pregnant was it really necessary to keep the bandwagon going on this one or are we just preparing to exploit another set of young mothers?

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