Before I can say anything – and I mean anything – about this week’s episode of 16 and Pregnant, I need to get this out of my system: SERIOUSLY??????!!!!!!!! An aspiring glassblower/part-time thrift store employee named Skylar? Who cheats on you, like, the same week* you get pregnant and then cries sincere emo tears and gives you the space you need until you decide to take him back? IF WE CANNOT LEARN FROM THE 1990s, WE ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT THEM.
On this week’s 16 and Pregnant, we learned that babies mean giving up your dreams of becoming a flutist for the Virginia Symphony, that parades are generally boring for teenagers**, and, that contrary to popular belief, the pregnancy belly-button ring does exist***. For the majority of the episode, Lizzie fluctuated between being responsible (congrats – for real- on finishing high school five months early through home school), being an entitled only child (it’s a known fact that parents know nothing and teenage children are always smarter), and oddly ridiculous (Seriously, you didn’t keep up with your birth control because you didn’t want a pelvic exam? Yeah, I can see how having a kid is less invasive than an hour in the stirrups.).
I did like how Lizzie and Skylar were really trying hard to maintain some independence through careful budgeting and planning in the very small space of Lizzie’s bedroom, but I felt as though their experience of the world didn’t extend beyond those walls. When Lizzie was out with her friends at the midpoint of the episode and was bragging all about her perfect baby, her perfect life, and her perfect relationship, I couldn’t help but think that she was both insufferable and hopelessly naive****. And I think I was right on both counts. While I’ve been worried for the past couple of weeks about the general feeling of unbearable weight at the end of recent episodes, this time I was worried about the larger context for Lizzie’s behavior after the baby was born. Lizzie – while in some ways, just run-of-the-mill 18 year-old mixed with a little only child for good measure – took on a new, and very unexplained pattern of behavior when she became more and more adamant about not wanting to be physically separated from the baby (even when Skylar was holding her).
The lack of discussion about this seemed larger than the conversations about it, as did Lizzie’s lack of self awareness and her immaturity, which was immune to even the most pithy attempt to permeate the thick teenage skull in 16 and Pregnant history: (to paraphrase), “I wish I had been as smart as you when I was younger. Because everything I thought I knew, I turned out to be wrong about.”
* Math is mine, not MTV’s. But, seeing as Lizzie is about 8+ months pregnant when she finds out that Skylar looked up with some girl named Krista (or something) 8 months ago, I think if we use my patented “counting backwards” method, we can construct a timeline that supports my hypothesis. On another note, why was I the only person nodding “yes,” in response to the question, “Do you think he would cheat on you?”
** This was puzzling. I would have thought that most teenagers had already discovered this when they realized they were too old to have candy thrown at them and too young to be publicly drunk in the name of St. Patrick/America/the Harvest. While my brother may have had a buttload of fun marching with the band in high school at town parades (I’m not sure, I haven’t asked), when I was Lizzie’s age, I really liked that parades meant that there was an empty house for sleeping in late and having some alone time while the rest of my family was out standing in the street.
*** Again, have these kids never heard of the ’90s? Aside from learning about the existence of pregnancy belly button rings, I also learned that people still get belly button rings.
**** Most people over the age of 18 can tell you that the second you start letting a little of that “my life is so perfect business” fly, you might as well throw the shit directly into the fan yourself.