Monday, March 09, 2009

The Secret Life Of The American Teenager - Gossiped Girl

The Secret Life of The American Teenager - Baked Nevada, The Father and the Son, That's Enough Of That, Chocolate Cake, Unforgiven, Making Up Is Hard To Do, Money for Nothing,Chicks For Free, Maybe Baby - Eps. 113-120

How ridiculous and ridiculously awesome has this show been recently? I still can't believe I'm loving a show by the same woman who did the godawful 7th Heaven but here, somehow the bad acting, low budget sets and preposterous storylines somehow make it feel all the more relevant and realistic.

And the STORIES. Where do I even start? The illegitimate wedding between 16 year old's Amy and Ben (Shailene Woodley and Ken Baumann)? The return of Ricky's (Daren Kagasoff) abusive father? The continuing fallout and impending divorce between George and Anne (Mark Derwin and Molly Ringwald)? The reverberations over at the Bowman's (Josie Bissett and John Schneider)? Ashley (India Eisley) getting a job as a cocktail waitress, then finding a new friend? Jack's (Greg Finley) newfound philanthropy and becoming a naive big brother AND who falls for his lil' brother's much older sister (Bianca Lawson).

But nothing tops Adrian (the always awesome Francia Raisa, above, with no pun intended) (sort of) moving on from Ricky, sort of becoming friends with Grace, and starting to date her BROTHER. Okay, really step-brother with no blood relations whom she didn't even know existed until recently, but how soap-opera fantastically weird and strangely compelling is THAT?

And then the ADULTS. From the lovable but firm and strangely moralistic Steve Schirripa (morally making up for The Sopranos) as Ben's father Leo (LOVE that he's forcing Ben AND Ricky to work at the family meat shop), to Mr. Molina (Jorge Pallo) the guidance councilor who can barely keep his own life in check. To Adrian's real father and D.A. who returns to her life.

It was getting hopeful that the gays (Larry Sullivan and Alex Boling) would adopt the baby but I guess that has GOT to be way too convenient. Still, it was nicely written and the fact that Donovan and Leon were gay was never the actual issue, which made it subversively liberal for a show that has quite the Christian overtones. (For the record, it was because they decided to fight for the right to adopt their foster kids instead of fighting for Ricky for Amy's baby).

Still, that's probably what makes this show surprisingly great. Between the difference family beliefs of the Juergens, the Bowmans, and even Leo Boykewich, and how their different beliefs balance each other out on every issue, most prevalently about sex, it makes it quite refreshing and honest. It's not like the Bowman's live in a total bubble, so it was hilarious when Grace finally got the pill. From her super-conservatively Christian parents. Or that Jack's father, the minister at the local church, is actually quite liberal. Or that even Adrian (above with fellow sexpot Ricky), the school's sexpot, is probably also the smartest girl on the show, albeit emotionally screwed up.

Now I'm still not sure I totally buy Ricky's newfound interest in fatherhood or wanting to be with Amy, but then again, I'm sure he himself is sure what he wants.

Meanwhile, I'm loving the turmoil within the Juergens household (and the fact that George lives in the garage now and seems delighted everytime he annoys Anne. I'm also loving that Amy is acting like a total spoiled little teenage girl and expecting her parents to take care of the baby because that's probably what any normal selfish teenager would expect. It's hilarious when Ben and Amy assume they'll be able to take care of the baby but I loved the reality check Leo and Anne each gave them. Good for Anne in taking a new job and forcing Amy to take it with her. Granted, when the architect (SKIPPER! Where have you been Ben Weber?) showed up to offer Anne a job AND fall in love with her, all during the interview, that seemed a BIT too convenient, even by this shows standards.

Seriously, I can't get enough of this show. It's amazingly compelling, often times hilarious (sometimes on purpose, sometimes not), and oddly enough, falls in the right moral balance that I mostly believe in. Well, I'm not exactly Christian or believe you need to save yourself for marriage but it's a realistic look at what's happening across the country, and I like all the various characters and their believes colliding in this generic looking town. It's far more realistic then its timeslot rival Gossip Girl, which if you can believe it, actually deals with kids around the same age. Still, as much as I love Gossip Girl and all the prettiness, it's really a show about rich 20somethings set in high school as opposed to actual 16 year olds, like TSLOTAT. (Maybe that's why the numbers are actually better for The Secret Life... than the much buzzier Gossip Girl. And I also have to say, the plots are probably actually even crazier in The Secret Life... which has far more characters to criss cross into various relationships and crazy plots.

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