Secret Life has never topped my list of well-written television shows – the dialogue can be clunky (see above) and silly and preachy, and inexplicably, riddled with detailed accounts of legal requirements (for child custody, for weddings, for driving on a permit).
The cliffhanger ending, which showed Ben looking forlornly out an upstairs bedroom window at his father’s wedding reception in the yard below as Adrian took a pregnancy test, also happens to be the first time this show has choked me up. Not only that, but Adrian repeatedly, eloquently, and unapologetically expressed her intention to have an abortion if it turns out she is (the cliffhanger left that open to question). But what it lacks in finesse it makes up for in no-nonsense talk about sex aimed straight at teenagers, its clear target audience. But the sensitive portrayal of girls struggling with every agonizing decision that a real-life pregnancy entails – even this controversial option – shows the heartbreak involved instead of shrouding it in mystery, which could have the opposite effect, making termination seem like an “easy” way out.


The late, great Everwood featured a guest character who got an abortion, and Degrassi: The Next Generation went there with a major character – though its network, The N, declined to air that episode of the Canadian show at the time (it later included it in rerun cycles). I don’t think that’s a coincidence – it reflects the enormity of such a decision, and the power of effective drama.
In the meantime, Ricky grows increasingly nervous about preparing his valedictorian speech, which is full of heartache as well as surprises. There’s no sense in shielding kids – who are clearly having as much sex as ever – from this stuff.
Here, Secret Life is taking a cue from MTV’s riveting, wrenching reality show 16 and Pregnant, which does the exact opposite of glamorizing teen pregnancy by showing every harrowing bit of what being with child really involves (sketchy boyfriends, irritated parents, labor pains, late nights, and all).


Once graduation has commenced, the Grant High students embark on what is to be the night of their lives. The show might still exist in a bit of a fantasy world where boys are thrilled to date girls who just got knocked up by someone else, but Adrian’s pregnancy bombshell shows it’s got grit and guts beyond what it’s shown us so far. Just as the party is in full swing, Grace is stunned to see Daniel’s ex-girlfriend, while Lauren refuses to hook up with Jesse.



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