By now, most of us are well-versed in the premise of the ABC Family drama, The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Regardless of whether you've actually seen the show, you've undoubtedly heard that it chronicles the high school experience of Ashley Juergens (Shailene Woodley), who becomes pregnant during Volume 1. By Volume 4, the baby has most definitely arrived, and Ashley is now balancing school, friends, motherhood, family life, and a volatile relationship with her Baby Daddy. Tensions are running high now that they're seeing other people, and the fact that they share a child (while essentially children themselves) is a constant insurmountable drag - regardless of how much they may love that baby. Adding to the confusion is Baby Daddy's psycho new love interest, whose overwhelming jealousy blinds her to the fact that he shares a pret-ty big responsibility with Ashley. The combination of soap opera drama and real life issues makes the show entertaining and relevant at the same time.
The genius of the show is in the casting. While teen viewers soak up all of the age-appropriate drama, older viewers will relish in seeing 80's teen icon Molly Ringwald as Ashley's mom. Awkwardly, she too becomes pregnant early in the series and now mother and daughter are raising their babies side by side. Making matters even more interesting, she hasn't quite got everything worked out with her Baby Daddy either. Josie Bissett also plays a parent on the show, adding even more credibility for Gen X viewers.
The Secret Life of the American Teenager may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it does make admirable strides in showing that every family's life is complicated and imperfect. The multi-cultural cast and varying family arrangements are also reflective of real life. The world depicted onscreen may be a heightened reality, but it's relatable enough to entice the whole family.
Extra features include "Behind the 'Secret' Scenes" with the cast and crew (Molly Ringwald, where are you??) and the featurette "Cast on Family". You can also get a sneak peek at The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens from Hyperion.