“Ix-nay on the etus-fay!”
That does it. With this fifth season, Secret Life of the American Teenager is no longer just a bad TV show. It’s made the jump into the higher echelon as one of the worst television programs ever created. To welcome the series into such an exclusive club, allow me to introduce three guest reviewers, each representing the lowest points in TV history. First up is a singing and dancing drug dealer from Cop Rock.
Singing and dancing drug dealer: In these streets, we have the power! We have the power! We have the power!
Verdict: Next is the drunken, loutish, and perpetually horny mid-’90s take on Abraham Lincoln from UPN’s The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer.
UPN Lincoln: Where can a commander-in-chief get a beer and some French fries around here?
Verdict: Finally, we have Itchy, Chewbacca’s decrepit and creepily lecherous father from The Star Wars Holiday Special.
Verdict: Thanks for being here, guys. Secret Life of the American Teenager is a nighttime soap about teenage mother Amy (Shailene Woodley) and her family and friends. This season begins with a huge shocker—bad girl Adrian (Francia Raisa) is now pregnant.
Verdict: Apparently, this series isn’t content with being that “teen” show, it instead has to be that “pregnancy” show. It wasn’t enough for central character Amy to be a high school mom, because her own mom got pregnant in season three, and now it’s Adrian’s turn. It’s like the creators said, “It’s a new season, somebody has to get preggers!” and the dart landed on Adrian.
Singing and dancing drug dealer: In these streets, we have the babies! We have the babies! We have the babies!
Verdict: This is further complicated because Amy’s ex-boyfriend Ben (Ken Baumann, Castle) is the father of Adrian’s baby. Before they broke up, Ben stood by Amy and her baby through thick and thin, even though he wasn’t the biological father. Now, as Ben and Amy rekindle their romance this season, Amy finds herself in his shoes, because he’s the one who has a kid with another girl. You’d think this would make for some intense drama, but it’s Secret Life of the American Teenager, where intense drama dare not raise its head.
UPN Lincoln: Heh, heh, you said “head.”
Verdict: More and more relationships get muddled this season, and they don’t often make sense. In addition to his goings-on with Amy and Adrian this season, Ben also starts up a relationship of sorts with not-so-pious Christian girl Grace (Megan Park).
UPN Lincoln: Juggling three chicks at once? Way to be, dude! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!
Verdict: Later, after Amy goes to New York (more on that below), her baby’s biological father, bad boy Ricky (Daren Kagasoff) temporarily moves in with her family to help take care of the kid, and this starts an uncomfortable romance between him and Amy sarcastic little sister Ashley (India Isley). Why? I have no idea. Like Ben and Grace, this coupling comes out of nowhere. My guess is that the writers asked, “Which two characters haven’t hooked up yet?” and then they made that happen, regardless of whether these new pairings are in character or make any kind sense.
Singing and dancing drug dealer: In these streets, we have the randomness! We have the randomness! We have the randomness!
Verdict: A multi-episode arc has to do with Amy leaving home for a few weeks after being invited to join a prestigious music program in New York City. It’s there that she meets Bristol Palin, guest-starring as herself.
Singing and dancing drug dealer: In these streets, we have the cameos! We have the cameos! We have the cameos!
Verdict: Now that I’ve typed the name “Palin” on the Internet, every single one of you reading this is preparing a passionate political diatribe in response. Before you all fill up my inbox, know that Palin only has a few seconds of screentime, and her entire agenda is to stand there and say, “Hi, I’m Bristol.” In other words, her appearance is a whole lot of hype over nothing. Hey, Itchy, how do you feel about politics?
Verdict: What’s really ridiculous about this plotline is that Amy gets accepted to this program, travels all the way to New York, and is then surprised to learn that it’s a music program exclusively for teenage mothers. That’s the big plot twist.
Verdict: My thoughts exactly. How on Earth did Amy not know that’s what the program was before both she and her family signed up for this trip? It’s as if this is some sort of secret CIA program recruiting teen moms.
UPN Lincoln: You know, I once tried recruiting promiscuous young girls for a secret government program too.
Verdict: The writing might be embarrassingly bad, but, hey, good acting and good directing can make the most out of a poor script, right? Sadly, that’s not the case with this series. Almost every scene is simple and repetitive dialogue, filmed with the standard TV two-shot of characters facing each other. It’s by-the-numbers television. Similarly, the actors all look bored, merely reciting lines and adding little to no character or feeling. Everybody’s just going through the motions.
Singing and dancing drug dealer: In these streets, we have the laziness! We have the laziness! We have the laziness!
Verdict: Even characters who were almost getting to the point of being something close to likable failed to do so this season. Amy’s dad George (Mark Derwin) and his Will Ferrell-esque man-child antics felt stale this time around, and recurring character Madison (Renee Olstead, 13 Going on 30) is less charming than she was before, and more sad and mopey like the other girls.
UPN Lincoln: Hey, Madison, it’ll be OK. Come sit on Honest Abe’s lap and let me take away your worries.
Verdict: All twelve episodes are on this three-disc set. The audio and video are decent, so you’ll have no problem seeing and hearing the blandness. There are three featurettes, which are on-set interviews with two of the actors and former actor turned director Anson Williams, who’s a long way from Happy Days here. Then, it takes the concept of bonus features to a never-before-seen low with on-set footage of the male actors “fist-bumping” each other.
UPN Lincoln: Hot damn!
Verdict: Sorry, Abe, but that’s actually not a euphemism for something salacious. To wrap up, what do you guys think of this fifth season?
UPN Lincoln: Let’s all go to Hooters after this. I’m buyin’!
Singing and dancing drug dealer: In these streets, we have…oh, forget it. This show is so terrible I’ve lost the will to sing.