Worst Moms on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant”

5 06 2012

Another cycle of 16 & Pregnant wrapped up last week, and 12 new (more) girls are now well in to their first year of motherhood.

Since premiering in June of 2009, MTV has aired 47 episodes.  Initially, the New York Times reviewed the program, concieved (pun intended) by Lauren Dolgen, as “a documentary-style series about real-life Junos who are not scoring in the 99th percentile on the verbal portion of their SATs. Each week revolves around a different girl struggling with the challenges of teenage pregnancy, and if the first three episodes are any indication, no one opts for abortion or giving the baby up to a pair of well-established 35-year olds.”

The show recieved mixed reactions from audiences, with many religious and educational groups deeming it a vehicle for glamorizing teen pregnancy, though it steadily pulled in good ratings. The first season’s finale yielded 2.1 million viewers.

Season 1 featured six mothers-to-be; season 2 “A” followed 10,  season 2 “B” nine; season 3 covering 10 stories; and season 4 showcased 12 girls.

The obvious winners of the losers are Amber Portwood (Season 1; recently sentenced to a 5-year jail sentence stemming from December 2011 drug charges) and Jenelle Evans (Season 2; recently engaged, her half dozen arrests have played out in all the glossy tabloids) but being that I’ve seen every episode more than once (or twice, sometimes three times — I’m not pathetic, I’m dedicated and often too lazy look for my remote):  I know there are other young ladies worthy of our unsolicited judgement and disapproving head-shaking.

Ebony Jackson, Season 1.
Ebony seemed to have her act together, altering her life-plan of joining the Air Force and marrying her boyfriend Joshua Rendon. The two lived quietly on base in Little Rock, AK and seemed to be adjusting nicely to married life and parenthood on the first of MTV’s Where Are They Now specials.
In September however, news broke via various online outlets that the pair had been arrested for welfare fraud and endangering their two-year-old daughter, Jocelyn.  Josh and Ebony were reportedly charged with “endangering the welfare of a minor, possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a drug premise, unauthorized use of another’s property to facilitate a crime, and possession of a controlled substance.”
Just six weeks ago, Josh spoke out through TMZ — announcing the couple is expecting a second child and still working to regain custody of Jocelyn.

Lizzie Waller, Season 2.
I was pleased with the revelation in Waller’s episode that her boyfriend Skylar had cheated on her, thereby shattering her delusions of having “the perfect baby, the perfect family, the perfect life.”  Gag.
This girl acted like ‘Who wouldn’t want to have a baby instead of finishing high school?’ and proceeded to frighten her parents (and the viewing audience) with her choices to marry Skylar and raise her daughter Summer with NO money.

Emily McKenzie, Season 2.
Besides the fact that Emily has openly admitted, on camera, that she resents Daniel, her now-husband, and wishes for a life that doesn’t consist of diapers and laundry – – she took little responsibility for her own role in the conception of baby Liam.  Emily came off cold, frustrated and selfish throughout the episode (and subsequent appearance on the second Where Are They Now? special).
I felt bad for her initially, having been thrown out of her mom’s house upon revealing her condition and harshly judged by her strict, conservative, Southern father.  She had to enroll in homeschooling because her high school kicked her out for excessive absences. But her self-recorded “confessional” footage really tipped the scales from “Someone I’ll root for” to “Someone I don’t pity.”

Aubrey Wolters, Season 2.
This lazy-eyed, smack-talking, now 19-yar-old divorcee spouted grand aspirations for breaking the cycle and raising a healthy child with her boyfriend Brandon turned out to be little more than one of those girls you went to high school with who told anyone who would listen “I hate drama,” “If I have something to say to someone I say it to their face,” “I’m gonna do what I have to for my baby.”  UGH.
When we last saw her, Aubrey had delayed college in favor of working part-time and living with friends. Brandon had joint-custody of their son Austin and definitely seemed the more stable in their (broken) relationship.

Ashley Salazar, Season 2.
Anyone who heard her story had to feel for Ashley, who spent the majority of her 90-minute episode trying to decide whether to surrender her infant daughter for adoption.  Complicating her already tough decision was the fact that the couple wanting desperately to adopt little Callie were Ashley’s own aunt and uncle.
This proposal would afford Ashley the openness and access to her child she wanted, but it would also prove too difficult a life-choice to cope with/move past with the child so prominently featured within the family. Ashley was suffering, which her family was understanding of; while her relatives were celebrating the joy of finally having a child, which the very same family was to be supportive of.
While it was openly discussed in her episode, Ashley showed little acknowledgement that her consistent blogging about her pregnancy and deliberation was accessible to her family and extraordinarily difficult for them to handle the feelings she wrote about.
Ashley, now 19, has since written a book, Bittersweet Blessing, about her experience (though reportedly it features little more info that what was shown on her episode).  She briefly attended The New School in New York City, but returned to Texas in favor of living by herself and pursuing online education.

Jennifer Del Rio, Season 3.
I hated this girl before her episode even aired. There were rumors online that one of the girls featured in Season 3 got pregnant specifically so she could be on 16 & Pregnant. Turned out, that girl was Jennifer.
Jennifer and her boyfriend Josh Smith have since broken up in a big way. Their families had no interaction on the episode, though a central theme in their story was how much Josh clashed with her wealthy, self-important parents.  Everyone had two-cents to put in on the situation, leaving Jennifer and Josh unable to come to any compromise over the rearing of their twin sons. The two were shown to have a physical altercation on the side of a rainy Florida roadway, which lead to Josh’s arrest for domestic violence. They have each since filed orders of restraint against eachother.
It was revealed on the second installement of Where Are They Now? that Jennifer basically picked up her kids and moved to Chicago, IL in an effort to escape the hostility surrounding her life.

Izabella Tovar, Season 3.
Izabella, like Emily (Season 2), was shown to have a flat affect when discussing her impending motherhood and relationship with the father of her child, boyfriend Jairo Rodriguez.
She doesn’t seem to even like Jairo for most of the footage, and resents the very act of being pregnant, hiding it from everyone but her immediate family for over 7 months.
Izabella seems to merely be following the advice of her parents, who come to terms with her situation long before she does, instead of carving out her own life as a mother. Poor Jairo lept through hoops to stay in her life during the pregnancy, meeting her parents demands for being part of their family, only to be hazily dragged along by Izabella.
She should consider herself lucky to have financially-stable parents and a present, interested partner by her side. MANY of the other girls featured on 16 and Pregnant would kill for that kind of support system.

There was no one outrightly unlikable in Season 4, though several are in for a rude awakening. Alex Sekella, Jordan Howard, Sarah Roberts and Devon Broyles all seem totally unprepared for caring for another human being and completely unwilling to give up their prior lives/fickle natures in order to succeed in motherhood; Consistently shown under the influence of outside opinions instead of stand up for themselves as adults now, and doing whats actually best for their infant children.

I sat here, week after week, listening to their same back and forth arguments about money and time, wondering throughout whether any of them had cable and SAW the other girls struggles. Wasn’t that the point of the show? To teach girls from 12-24 that having sex and following through with a pregnancy was fucking hard?!

We’ll see Dr. Drew’s take on this group of ladies tonight, when the Season 4 Reunion special airs at 10pm.




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