In June 2009, a reality show premiered on MTV that was honestly unlike anything people had seen before. Each episode followed one girl who was sixteen years old and expecting a baby, which is why the show was called 16 and Pregnant.
There have always been teen pregnancies, of course, but before this show, the topic felt more like a cautionary tale discussed in a high school health class. It was tough to imagine what it would actually be like to have this experience. How would a young mom-to-be feel when she walked through her school hallways with a bump? Would it affect her relationships? How would the dad of her child feel? Suddenly, viewers could learn the answers to these questions. Sure, it still seemed complicated and hard to imagine, but these girls put a face and a name to the subject. It was a human-interest show, and many people tuned in to learn more about these girls and their stories.
The show was definitely a success, and after a few seasons, there were a few different spin-offs, from Teen Mom to Teen Mom 2, and then Teen Mom OG which featured the four young women that fans have felt the most connected to.
Read on to find out 2o things that fans absolutely have to know about MTV's 16 and Pregnant.
Could a reality TV series about teen pregnancies actually stop teenage girls from getting pregnant?
As it turns out, the show had a real impact: A study says that there were fewer teens having babies a result. According to CNN, "The study, released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, says '16 and Pregnant' ultimately led to a 5.7% reduction in teen births in the 18 months after its premiere on TV. This would account for about one-third of the overall decline in teen births in the United States during that period, researchers Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine concluded."
This is so interesting. Fans who have seen the show know that it shows that it's no picnic having a baby that young, so that seems to account for why.
Lauren Dolgen created 16 and Pregnant and has spoken about why she decided to do the show. Ultimately, it was because of teenage girls who get pregnant: she wrote for CNN that they were "the ones whose stories weren't being told."
She continued, "The U.S. has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and teen birth in the fully developed world -- but at that time, no one was really talking about the harsh reality these young women were facing... I wanted to help give these teenagers a voice, and to share their stories without passing judgment in a way that could start a real dialogue about the issue."
According to The Ashleys Reality Roundup, there may have been some editing on this show: Kayla Jackson, in particular, said that her episode was edited.
She wrote on her Twitter account, “I [strongly dislike] ’16 and Pregnant. It was the [least wise] decision I’ve ever made. And every time they replay [my episode] and people ask me about it I regret it all over again. I had really good times with Mike, my friends and, yes, even my mom. Did they show any of that? No. They showed me starving myself (not true), fighting with my mom, dropping out of school and made everything into a dramatic mess.”
We have heard about reality shows doing some editing, so it's interesting to hear her account of being on the show.
While 16 and Pregnant did put many of its girls into the spotlight and suddenly people knew their names and what they had been through, not everyone wanted to stay in the spotlight.
According to In Touch Weekly, one girl named Allie Mendoza is living a private life now with her second child and husband. She had a tough time and her episode was about her relationship with her then boyfriend and his mom, who was going through her own struggles. It's nice to see that she has found happiness and a family, and fans can definitely understand that not everyone wants to be (or stay) famous.
E Online says that Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra are an "enduring" couple and it's definitely true. Of all of the couples who were on 16 and Pregnant, they are still together, but no one else's relationship survived.
If we have ever seen this show along with Teen Mom, then we're familiar with Catelynn and Tyler. They are an adorable pair who seem to really care for one another. They are married, have a four-year-old daughter, Nova, and are currently expecting another baby. They met as pre-teens so it has been interesting to see their relationship evolve, and it's so nice that they have stayed together all of these years.
Some reality shows are more stylish to watch than others. If we have seen this show, then we know that it felt a lot like a documentary, and it was cool to follow along with.
According to Cosmopolitan, the show was shot in a more artistic style, like a film.
As MTV's director of programming (at the time) Tony DiSanto told the publication, "But we felt this was a completely different type of story and wanted to take a much more vérité approach — we really wanted this to be dramatic, authentic storytelling. But also to work as entertainment. And at the time, Juno had just come out — execution and visual style is always the big icing on the cake for me and everybody at MTV, and we borrowed the animated technique [for captions and segues] from Juno for the show."
Like any other reality show, there were definitely some crazy moments on 16 and Pregnant. Having a baby while you're still in high school brings up a ton of drama, both with your partner and with both of your families. It's safe to say that emotions run pretty high in this kind of situation.
Anyone who has seen the show knows that there was one couple whose storyline felt really special and unique: that of Tyler and Catelynn's. They knew that they were going to give their daughter up for adoption and they were on the show to talk about that subject.
Why didn't 16 and Pregnant last longer than it did?
When the producers decided to do Teen Mom they thought that it would air between seasons of 16 and Pregnant but then Teen Mom was the focus instead. As one told Cosmopolitan, "We thought this was going to be just a bridge idea that would, you know, help us buy the time between each 16 and Pregnant series. And then it just took off unto itself!"
Teen Mom is a great show since every episode focuses on four girls and you get the opportunity to spend more time with them and learn more about their lives, so we can see why this worked out.
According to Ranker, one girl named Ashley Salazar had a pretty dramatic episode, and anyone who has watched every episode of the series will most likely recall it for that reason. When she got pregnant in high school, she agreed to let her aunt and uncle adopt her baby... but then she asked for the baby so she could be the parent. And then she gave the baby back to her family.
We know that it's really tough to have a baby when you're a teenager so we understand that there are a lot of emotions. You're not sure that you can raise the baby on your own or that you're old enough to do so. This episode really showcased that.
Who was the first person who was cast on 16 And Pregnant? According to Cosmopolitan, it was Amber Portwood.
We know and love Amber as a really spunky, sassy girl. When we first saw her on the show, she and her boyfriend Gary were expecting their first child. We have watched Amber come-of-age as she gave birth to her daughter Leah, she and Gary had some relationship struggles, and now Amber has just had a son, James, with her boyfriend Andrew Glennon. We agree that Amber has been an interesting person to watch over the years, so we totally get that she was the first one who was cast.
Although we have seen evidence that the show has helped decrease the amount of teenage girls giving birth to babies, some people say that the show glamorizes teen pregnancy.
The New York Times wrote, "The two shows are both among MTV’s most watched, with some episodes drawing more than three million viewers, many of them young women. But the shows also have critics who say they glamorize teenage parenthood — especially since many of the mothers have become celebrities as a result of the show."
Anyone who has seen the show can most likely say that it doesn't look very fun to have a baby in high school since the show gets really real and honest about the struggles that the girls have experienced.
Something else that fans should know about this reality show? The fact that teenage girls have said that they can talk about this subject thanks to the show and that it helps them think.
This is really important and definitely seems to be what the producers were going for. It's not the kind of reality show that you watch and think, "Wow, that was really something" and then move on with your day or evening. It's thought-provoking and brings up a lot of conversation topics. Moms could also watch this with their teenage daughters and have a conversation about it, and it might give them a reason to have this crucial talk since they could reference the girls on the show.
If you have seen Farrah Abraham's episode of 16 and Pregnant, then you know that she lost her boyfriend and the father of her daughter, Sophia, and that is something that she talks about to this day. His name was Derek Underwood. According to People, Farrah and Derek weren't a couple anymore when he passed away when she was eight months along.
This was something that was featured on the show, so it's true that the show got real, and the girls were allowed to show what was really going on in their lives. It was important to see this aspect of Farrah's experience.
According to Wet Paint, Amber was struggling a lot while filmed for the show, and she got in trouble.
Fans will probably remember seeing everything that Amber has gone through. Her episode of 16 and Pregnant was a pretty sad one and every time that we watched her on Teen Mom, she was still going through a lot.
This is why the show is so beloved, though: although it can be hard to watch someone struggle, it's a learning experience for the viewer, and so many girls have learned about the realities of teen pregnancy as a result of it.
It's easy to think that if someone stars on a reality television series (especially one that is popular), they would be raking in a ton of cash. But that's not the case with the girls who were on the show. How much did they make? We're probably curious, so we should know what they made: Wet Paint says that the girls were paid $5,000 each.
Sure, to us that might seem like a good amount of money, but we can understand that some people might not see it that way, at least compared to what people make in Hollywood. Everything is relative, right?
It can be hard to see if a TV show will be popular before it airs, and fans of 16 and Pregnant should know that one of the producers, Dia Sokol-S., didn't think that it would end up being a hit.
She told BU Today, "I loved the idea of it, but I was not convinced anyone would watch it. I thought it was a cool opportunity to make documentaries about an interesting issue affecting teenagers that no one was talking about, but I didn’t think it would garner a huge audience. That was my gut reaction. I knew there would be challenges as to how we would produce it, how you get people to be on a show called 16 and Pregnant."
Dia Sokol-S. also said that the producers and the girls were friendly during the filming of the series. That's really cool to hear. If we have kept up with the show and currently watch Teen Mom OG, then we're familiar with seeing the producers and the girls interacting on-camera.
She told BU Today, "We still have close relationships with the cast members but we also have large teams that we manage." She also said she has "affection" for the girls because she has known them for so many years and has seen what has happened in their lives over that span of time.
Some of the girls who we first watched on 16 and Pregnant have become super famous. One of them is Maci Bookout, who we first saw on the show when she was pregnant with her first child, Bentley. Now she is married and has several other children.
According to the Times Free Press, Maci became a public figure after the show. She would speak about teenage pregnancy and has been an inspiring figure for teenage girls. Many of the original girls now have huge social media followings, they have written books, gotten involved in various business ventures, and have been on other reality shows as well.
Since their time on the MTV reality show, many of the girls are all grown up now and married with kids. They have moved on from that difficult time during high school and seem like they are doing really well.
Maci, for example, runs a clothing business with her husband, Taylor, and Catelynn and Tyler have shown that they are starting a children's clothing line on the show. Farrah Abraham has several businesses, from a frozen yogurt shop to a home decor store, and Amber has also done a lot of different things. It goes to show that while it's difficult to have a baby in high school, there are still things that you can do with your life, so this is inspiring.
When the 16 and Pregnant spin-off Teen Mom started, four girls were chosen for the new show: Maci, Catelynn, Amber, and Farrah. Each episode would focus on these four girls and go back and forth between their storylines. Not every girl who was on the original show ended up on the spin-off. There were several seasons of Teen Mom, then Teen Mom 2, then 3, and now Teen Mom OG which also features two new girls.
We're grateful to both 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom for showing what it's really like to have this experience, and we're sure that it has inspired many mom/daughter conversations.