Okay, there, I said it. My television watching habits are downright embarrassing. I also listen to NPR, so I like to think it all comes out in the wash, but the fact of the matter is that I'm probably the reason the nation is going downhill intellectually. Case in point: I actually own Small Wonder on DVD, and I can name the winner of every cycle of America's Next Top Model. Hell, I know they call them cycles instead of seasons, which is shameful enough as it is. I could rattle off terrible shows ad nauseum, detailing salacious storylines in sickening depth, but I'll spare everyone the torture and just get to the point: Teen Mom.
Teen Mom is by far my favorite guilty pleasure. A spin-off of MTV's own 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom is a reality show that follows four young women as they stumble through motherhood and generally make fools of themselves on a regular basis. It's the kind of cringe-worthy, exploitative trash that's been rapidly taking over the airwaves in recent years. And I fucking love it. I'm crazy about the show because almost everyone on it is completely vile and unpleasant. The cast has become celebrities in their own right, so I thought what better way honor these horrid individuals than as collectible trading cards?
Maci is the single capable parent on the entire show, and might actually be likeable if it weren't for her addiction to spray tans. For the first half of this season, her orange skin matched her copper dyed hair almost exactly. I thought I needed to adjust my TV set on more than one occasion.
Her baby, Bentley, could even stand a chance of growing up normally, but Maci's competence is offset completely by Ryan, the father, who is seemingly perpetually unemployed. Ryan appears hellbent on becoming the poster child for deadbeat dads everywhere. If he isn't napping at his parents' house or avoiding finding legitimate work, he's telling Maci that she's lazy, or stupid, or threatening to take her to court over their child. My guess is he'll end up doing gay-for-pay porn within the next few years, effectively completing the cycle of The Reality Show Douchebag.
Amber and Gary have a relationship that's almost beyond words. Amber goes back and forth between literally punching Gary in the face and making him propose to her, over and over and over again, while their baby Leah screams from the other room. I've lost count of how many times these two have gotten engaged (Gary spent a mere $21.40 for an engagement ring at Walmart), then broken up, only to kiss and make up before the episode's end. Their tumultuous relationship used to be marginally understandable, as they were both at one time the size of baby elephants. However, since losing a significant amount of weight, Amber seems to be on a cruel power trip with Gary, knowing that no matter how awfully she treats him, he'll always come crawling back to her with a to-go box of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
Most recently, Amber seems to have finally given up on playing games with Gary, and has begun dating a registered child molester.
(Edit: Ok, so he turned out not to be a child molester, just an unspeakable creepster.)
Caitlynn and Tyler made the wise decision to give their little troll up for adoption, thus giving themselves the chance to do something with their lives, though God knows what. College seems out of the question, as neither of them have enough credits to graduate from high school. Frankly I don't even know why these two are on the show, since they don't have a child anymore and they have the personalities of tree stumps. I suppose I have to give them credit for being somewhat well-adjusted, because their home lives are tragic even by my low standards. Tyler's mullet-sporting dad has been in and out of rehab, and Caitlynn's mom looks like a cross between Gollum and a Faces of Meth "after" photo.
To make matters worse, their parents are actually dating each other. I don't even want to think about that one too much. Another season of this family and I'll have a hard time telling the difference between them and the creeps from that "Home" episode of The X-Files.
Farrah, the show's resident single mom, started off sort of fun to watch but quickly unraveled into possibly the most spiteful human being on television next to Glenn Beck and Maddy Gosselin. The big story with Farrah was that her mom apparently assaulted her earlier this year, though no one can really be sure with Farrah. In all honesty I can't really blame her mother. I sort of want to assault Farrah myself.
It's a wonder that her baby Sophia isn't dead yet, as Farrah's favorite pastime is forgetting the fact that she even has a baby. Sophia spends most episodes either falling off beds or sitting in a sink full of soapy water unattended. Part of me suspects that Farrah might be some kind of Octomom with a closet full of identical babies. Whenever one croaks, she quietly brings out a new one like nothing happened and carries on being a grating skank with a massive head of hair.
Teen Mom has proven to be a ratings powerhouse for MTV, but there's only about another year left before the cast are no longer effectively teens. At that point I'm not sure what I'll do. I'm a 24-year-old adult male, and I need my weekly outlet of naive teenage youths to pass judgment on. Otherwise I might be forced to confront my own shortcomings, and that's just unacceptable.
I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that America's teens keep poppin' out babies, and that MTV keep giving them reality show contracts.