The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Two (2009)

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama
Buena Vista || NR - 516 minutes - $39.99 || June 16, 2009
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2009-06-18


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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, Daren Kagasoff, Ken Baumann, Molly Ringwald


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Music Video


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

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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 (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 (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!

All of the above was from my review of the first half of Season One...and now I bring you the final half. I've got to say, the show improved drastically. Sure, it still has many moments where I roll my eyes and made a snide remark but they really dumbed down some of the "I Love You" that was said at least twenty times an episodes. Thankfully my two least favorite characters (Amy and Ben) are pretty much put on the down-low for the second half while we focus on the baby-daddy Ricky and his back-and-fourth opinions if he should be in the baby’s life or allow Amy to give it up for adoption. That, fused with his abusive father returning and trying to get Ricky to 'sell' the baby (this is an ABC Family show) really brings out the drama.

My favorite character, the reason why I watch the show, Adrian (Raisa), is thrown into the lime-light and tackles issues with her new-found father figure and continues to wear and less as humanely possible (which is great for the viewers - she's amazing. Take a look at that cover art!). I really think something happened at ABC Family because not only did Adrian start dressing hotter, but so did devout Christian Gracie, Amy's BFF's and even her younger sister Ashley who dresses like she is twenty but in reality is only 14 (and even works at a bar!). With improvements in nearly every department (save for some still poor acting from a few people) I would say give this show another chance if you tuned out before. By no means is this a great show, but it’s certainly entertaining.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Like Season One, this release includes a Slip Cover.

Character Secrets: The Cast Tells All (10 Minutes) - This is more or less an over-view of the season. All the cast is back to talk about it; it’s littered with far more clips from the show than actual interview footage.

Cast Close-Ups (~25 Minutes) - Each major cast member speaks in short 3 minute or so bursts about the show. Far more interesting than Character Secrets.

...and a Music Video. Well, certainly more than the previous release.



.::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. It’s a very serviceable track.



.::OVERALL::.

This latter half of the season is way better than the first handful of episodes that came before and put more focus on the interesting character (i.e. not the title one) and real brought the drama I'm use to in teen dramas. Remember "Melrose Place"? The first 13 episodes sucked...but then it picked up. Maybe this one will to? With great Picture and Audio for a TV show on DVD and some special features... I'd say give this one a rental if you couldn't make it past the first few episodes of the series.