reality tv

How to Write an Article About Teen Mom

Maci Bookout.

Teen Mom’s third season is under way, which means everyone wants to write a story about the show. Time has the most recent effort, but it’s in good company. And as you can tell from reading these features, it’s an easy show to cover! Just make sure you have these five elements:

Link the show to other famous teen moms.
“[Maci Bookout has] appeared on dozens of magazine covers, spoken alongside Bristol Palin to groups about teen-pregnancy prevention … ” [Time]
“The concept for 16 and Pregnant was spawned by the headlines surrounding the pregnancies of Jamie Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin.” [LAT]
“Move over Jamie Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin.” [ABC]

So, is teen pregnancy glamorous?
“That’s why Bookout, the most glamorous star in the Teen Mom firmament, is also the last person to suggest that the shows glamorize their subjects.” [Time]
“Certainly MTV’s so-called ‘sister shows’ — 16 and Pregnant, as well as Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2, which follow some of the girls through early motherhood — have received swipes for glamorizing teenage pregnancy.” [NYT]
“Such is the very unglamorous truth behind MTV’s unbelievably compelling reality sensation Teen Mom. … Critics have also wondered whether the show contributes to an overall ”glamorization” of teen pregnancy.” [EW]
“‘I think the audience comes away from the show realizing that pregnancy is not easy or glamorous or fun,’ said Amy Kramer, the director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.” [LAT]

Tell me more about the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
“An October 2010 focus-group study commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 4 in 10 teenagers who watch an episode of 16 and Pregnant talk about the show with a parent afterward and that more than 90% of them think teen pregnancy is harder than they imagined before watching the series.” [Time]
“Last summer, in a national telephone poll of young people ages 12 to 19 commissioned by the National Campaign, 82 percent of those who had watched 16 and Pregnant said the shows helped them understand the challenges of pregnancy and how to avoid it.” [NYT]
“The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has even partnered with the show, formulating discussion guides about issues from each episode and making DVDs of the program available to nonprofit organizations and educators.” [LAT]
“’Teen Mom is a game changer when it comes to teen pregnancy on television,” says Amy Kramer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which works with MTV on educational materials available both online and in schools.” [ABC]

Did everyone see that movie Juno?
“According to [Liz Gateley, a former executive producer], the model for the series was Juno, the Oscar-winning 2007 film about a white, middle-class teenage girl who gets pregnant — right down to the animated-sketchbook style of the movie’s credits. ” [Time]
“‘This show really hits people hard. In Juno or The Secret Life of An American Teenager, things are kind of glossed over and they don’t really show the hardships,’ said Bookout.” [LAT]
“[Whitney Purvis, who was on 16 and Pregnant], said the movie Juno made pregnancy look ‘cute’ so she wanted to participate with MTV to show teens the actual reality.” [ABC]

Finally, are these people now celebrities? In tabloids?
“With more than 3 million viewers each week, it’s the network’s top-rated show after Jersey Shore, and its subjects provide endless fodder for the tabloids … ” [Time]
“Despite the tabloid derision and paparazzi attention that are almost a necessary byproduct of reality TV shows, the impact extends far beyond their ratings triumphs.” [NYT]
“Not only is it a buzzy ratings hit, with an average of 3.4 million viewers and a barrage of recent celebrity-magazine covers focused on the teen stars, but it also serves to showcase the network’s socially conscious side by leading a national discussion about birth control, abstinence, and adoption.” [EW]
“Pick up any tabloid — Us Weekly, OK! magazine, Life & Style, In Touch — and these high school moms are elevated to near-celebrity status.” [ABC]

Teen Moms Are Taking over Reality TV. Is That a Good Thing? [Time]
Fighting Teenage Pregnancy With MTV Stars as Exhibit A [NYT]
Teen Mom: Inside the Phenomenon [EW]
Forget The Hills: Audiences embrace the harsh realities of Teen Mom [LAT]
Teen Mom: ‘They Treat Me Like I’m a Celebrity’ [ABC]

How to Write an Article About Teen Mom