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Sexuality in Media Essay

The television program that I watched is called “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” and I watched this on Monday. The Secret Life tells about a teenage girl that faces an unexpected pregnancy; the show has gone from being about a pregnant teenager to being about a teenage mother. Due to the plot and nature of this television show, it is obvious that any sort of sexual behavior plays a huge role; in fact, unprotected, sexually active teenagers sets the foundation for this program.

The sexual behavior that can be seen include physical flirting, passionate kissing, implied intercourse, and intercourse depicted (though this was seen in the first episode of the series and has not made another appearance in later showings). The sexual talk that takes place was the characters discussing their own plans and desires to have sex, including their nervousness in regards to practicing premarital sex, the protagonist talking about sex that had occurred prior – the one resulting in her pregnancy, as well as a fairly wide range of advice on sex, in relation to teenagers.

The show has a major focus on sexuality, though in regards to the problems that teenagers today are facing. The show consists of teenaged characters that are confused about when sex is right or when it is not, who is at liberty to judge on it, and the issues that these teenagers face when something goes wrong in their sex lives. It is a fictional show about real-life happenings. The ages of these characters ranges between thirteen years of age and sixteen.

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The main protagonist, the pregnant teenager, is fifteen years old; however, the plot of the story involves friends and family close to her age, showing the different reactions and issues that can be presented due to a teenage pregnancy. The actors can be considered peers of the typical audience as they are the same age as their target audience; they can relate to the things that they are depicting to their audience, also understanding what they are teaching to their audience. The portrayals in the television show do depict safe sex and contraception.

The actors play a huge role in this, especially at the end of the show – once the credits have finished rolling, one of the actors would be shown discussing how teenage pregnancies could be avoided, and how the teenagers should maintain a close relationship with their parents to take further precautions. The actors, being so young and living in a world where teenage pregnancy is a disturbing reality, can convey this message from a first-person standing – other teenagers can grasp a better understanding when they are being told something from someone that they can relate to.

It is also the purpose of the show to give a solid understanding of everything that can go wrong when it comes to sexually active teenagers. The link between early onset of sexual behaviors, an increase in television watching, lack of contraception use, and an increase of teen pregnancy is that teenagers often imitate what they see on television. If they see other sexually active teenagers, especially ones that decide not to take precaution and use protection, then the teenager feels that they condones their own sexual behavior.

Even in the case of The Secret Life, the teenagers were not protected, which resulted in a pregnancy, though it does play a positive role in what could happen if a pregnancy were to happen and the teenager had their parents involved. Teenagers often feel that if fictional characters are displaying the actions that they themselves are unsure about, that it is all right for them to proceed with it. After all, why would something be publicized if it were not appropriate behavior? That is the frame of mind in which many teenagers consider their options and their choices, which is something that the program also displays.





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