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DVD Review: Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume 4

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Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Four comprises the second half of season two of the TV series. The popular ABC Family show revolves around teen mom Amy (Shailene Woodley) and her family and friends. The first season of the show dealt with Amy’s pregnancy and the reactions of everyone around her. In the second season Amy is now a new mom, dealing with school, the baby’s father, her family, and her boyfriend. While the show sets up some interesting relationships, it leans more toward teen soap opera than anything that resembles realism.

One problem with Secret Life of the American Teenager is that everyone is obsessed with sex. Of course, we know teenagers are interested sex, but this show would have the audience believe it’s the only thing they ever think about. Almost no one seems to be thinking about what they want to do after high school, or anything else for that matter. Actually, sex is treated very casually on this show, as if sleeping around is totally expected and okay. The show seems to be aimed at a pre-teen or young teen audience, so it might make for some uncomfortable viewing as a family show. Another disappointing element to the second season is that everyone is friends. The awkwardness of different groups being forced to interact with each other is gone. Geeky Ben freely talks to popular Grace, and even befriends the unapproachable and sexy Adrian. Bad boy Rickey (the father of Amy's baby) seems to be friends with everyone. The only non-friends are Adrian and Amy who are at odds over who gets to spend more time with Rickey.

The most interesting characters are Rickey, Amy’s dad, and her sister Ashley. Both characters bring a touch of common sense and humor to the show. Molly Ringwald as Amy’s mom is okay, but I think they could do more with her character. She doesn’t have much impact as a mom, and it doesn’t seem like it’s meant to be that way. Rickey provides the most emotional gravity to the show. He comes from a troubled background, lived in foster care, and is now trying to be a good father. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to make of Rickey and in a way that makes him the most realistic. Rickey at times is very sympathetic and then he will make a stupid or callous decision that is alienating. At the very least there are some dynamics to his character.

While most of the second half of season two, depicted on this DVD set, revolves around who’s hooking up with whom, the last four of five episodes bring a new weight that makes it worth watching. Tired of having his visits with baby John controlled by Amy, Rickey decides he must take action to win visitation on his own terms. His conversations with Amy concerning this are truly emotional and realistic. Teenage Amy is not mature enough to know how to handle it and doesn’t want her world changed more than it already has. It’s easy to be angry with Amy for her feelings until we are reminded of her youth and inexperience. Coupled with the drama between Rickey and Amy, there are a few twists and turns amongst the supporting cast that make this show a guilty pleasure that is fun to watch.

The DVD set contains some special features including a behind the scenes interviews, and clips with the cast, and a featurette about the musical score. The features are probably fun for fans of the show, there is a humorous clip with Megan Park (Grace Bowman) talking about the struggles of being a Canadian actor communicating with Americans. If you already have the first three volumes of Secret Life of the American Teenager, there is no reason not to add this one to your collection. If parents are looking for a family friendly show they would be best off watching a couple of episodes before letting younger kids watch it.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.