TV on DVD Review: The Secret Life of the American Teenager -- Volume Four

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“Did she have sex?” “Did they have sex?” “You totally had sex.” “Are you going to have sex with him?”

The writers of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and the teenage characters of the series seem to have one thing on their brain at all times and only one word to use to describe it in a show that exhausts the number of times you can say the word "sex" in its one hour running time without inventing a new tongue twister or inspiring a drinking game.

I once counted more than fifteen usages of “sex” within two back-to-back scenes divided into groups of characters. Gee what about “sleep with,” “laid,” “do it,” “fool around,” “go all the way,” “got it on,” "scored" or any other number of euphemisms that real people say when not in a doctor's office?

Without switching gears in the lazy writing, 7th Heaven creator Brenda Hampton and her team of out-of-touch, speech-heavy scripters desensitize the word and meaning of sex to the point that the over-usage of it becomes funny initially and ultimately annoying.

Absolutely nothing about the banal dialogue seems remotely authentic when you consider the conversations that actual teenagers have with one another and how laughable it is when sixteen year old girls on the show talk about marrying somebody they met for five minutes at a grocery store.

However, while the dialogue on the series is abysmal at best, the rapid fire exchanges about sex uttered in the school hallways initially distract you from a much larger problem about Secret Life, which is that it's all gimmick and no substance, not to mention filled with characters with whom you can neither relate and for whom you can't really root.

Although I instantly wanted to applaud the bravery of the series for dealing with the aftermath of an unplanned pregnancy of its now sixteen year old main character Amy Juergens, frankly there isn't much to like about any of the characters who may discuss Christianity and condoms with equal measure but feel so far removed from anything relatable that they may as well be on another planet.

With important moral lessons hitting the kids like a dump-truck in some speeches that clunk even harder than their sex-driven banter, we navigate the ups and downs of their meaningless relationships as well as their similarly dimwitted, affair happy parents who are as prone to gossip, flights of unexpected immaturity and more in this marriage heavy second season.

Featuring the final twelve episodes of the season that leaves you on one monstrous cliffhanger, we follow Amy through her push-pull relationship with baby daddy Ricky (the show's designated man-whore), his pretty girlfriend Adrian (basically the junior version of Sex and the City's Samantha), nice-guy turned horn-ball Ben, and Amy's younger sister Ashley who ditches her gay friend early into the episodes in favor of his straight cousin.

Playing musical beds throughout as Grace is torn between Jack and Ben and Adrian is happy to sit wherever there's a willing male, it's ultimately left to the parents to do some preaching both tasteless and wise as Grace's mom encourages her devoutly Christian daughter to please herself and Ben's father becomes the official “what have we learned here?” dispenser of wisdom on Secret Life of the American Teenager.

A far cry from ABC Family's vastly superior college-centric series Greek along with its girl power effort Make It or Break It, while I can only hope that the writers buy themselves a thesaurus, get acquainted with slang, eavesdrop on actual teens or give some of these interchangeable one-dimensional characters some genuinely interesting plots rather than worrying about their condom supply, in the mean time your best bet is to avoid these particular fast times at Ulysses S. Grant High.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.