The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume One (2008)

Genre(s): Drama
Buena Vista || NR - 473 minutes - $39.99 || December 30, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2009-01-01


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Brenda Hampton (created by)
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Allen Evangelista, Ken Baumann, Molly Ringwald


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Behind the Scenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: NA

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.::THE FILM::.

Teen dramas - I love them. It could be "90210", "The O.C.", "Gossip Girl", "Dawson's Creek"... I watch them all. I'm not afraid to admit that and when I saw previews for “Secret Life of an American Teenager” I was intrigued. However, it came on at the same time as several other shows did so I put it on the back-burner for the eventual DVD Release. Season One came and went, and for ABC Family, became a fairly big "hit". So when I had the opportunity to review Season One I jumped at the chance hoping it would be decent, at least for ABC Family standards. I was so wrong.

The show revolves around a cast of young characters and their parents. When the season starts, we learn that 15 year old Amy (Shailene Woodley) is pregnant. Uh-oh. Afraid to tell her parents, she hides this fact to only her closest friends. Soon, we slowly get introduced to several other young characters that all seem to have something in common - a boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, or their parents were married at some point in time. First up we have Ben (Ken Baumann), a 15 year old who is in love with Grace (Megan Park) who is a devout Christian. After his friends tell him she is totally out of his league, he sets his eyes on Amy, not knowing she is pregnant. Within several episodes Ben falls in love with Amy (evidenced by the fact they say "I Love You" nearly every ten minutes). Ben initially does not know Amy is pregnant (nor had sex) but eventually that gets let out of the bag...

Backing up, Grace is a devout Christian who wears a "promise ring" (thanks Jonas Brothers!) so she can let everyone know she won't have sex before marriage. This upsets her Christian boyfriend Jack (Greg Finley) who, while also a devout Christian, wants to do the dirty. With Gracie unavailable, Jack decides to hook up with Adrian (Francia Raisa) the school "slut". Adrienne loves sex and will do it with everyone, including "bad boy" Ricky (Daren Kagasoff) who was molested by his father at a young age so he of course needs to have sex with anything that moves....and as you may have guessed, who do you think got Amy pregnant? Several other characters are also included in the show, including Amy's parents George (Mark Derwin) and Anne (Molly Ringwald) who has marriage problems. Not only is George sleeping with another women (remember, all the cast is somehow connected) but was also at one point in time married to Gracie's mom!

This show is way too cheesy for the majority of people to actually sit through. Every episode has several cringe-worthy scenes that I feel embarrassed to watch and most plots just drag on and on forever. As I mentioned above, Amy and Ben, while only knowing each other for several hours, decide its O.K. to admit their love for one another. Yeah, because at 15 you find your soul mate within a day. Then, when Ben finds out that Amy is pregnant, he decides to be the white knight and offer to marry her (including a proposal!) which is fully backed up by his insane father. Way to often I felt the need to just take the DVD out of my player and throw it away because I felt like I was watching a really bad "after school special" that my parents forced me to watch as a young child.

Now, let’s talk more about the dialog. Most of these characters are 15/16, yet they speak as-if they are in their mid 30's. There is no way Ben should speak the way he does...it does not make sense. It’s like the writers thought "Hey, Dawson was really smart in Season One and Two of "Dawson's Creek"; let’s make Ben like that too! Only this time, he is super-duper-duper smart!” Seriously, that's exactly what happened. We get dialog coming out of his mouth that I would never think a 15 year old would ever say. Then we have the other cast of characters telling Amy what "choices" she has with her pregnancy. Oh course, each one has a different opinion (keep/adoption/abortion) and each feel the need to slowly tell Amy why they think their choice is the "right" one. I was seriously waiting for one to "break the wall" and talk to us, the viewers, and offer advice and a phone number to call if we knew anyone in need.

It’s that bad.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Behind the Scenes (6 Minutes) - A very brief feature that discusses how the show was thought up and how they try and make the characters seem like 15/16 year olds (yeah, right). Besides some of the actors/actresses talking about how awesome the show is you won't get much out of this.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Secret Life of an American Teenager” is Presented in 1.85:1 on 3 DVDs. Surprisingly the show looks really good when up-converted, colors very vibrant and dark blacks. To be honest, it’s one of the best TV on DVD releases I've reviewed this year. Several times I could have easily mistaken it for a Blu-ray.

Buena Vista has included a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track for this release. Dialog is very clean, however don't expect much out of your rear speakers - they were typically either empty or had the occasional school bell ringing or student slamming a locker. Its a very serviceable track.



.::OVERALL::.

If you under the age of 16... this show might be worth watching. But with poor dialog, bad acting, and a cast of characters who are not very likable you are bound to go insane watching this show. Skip!