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Featured TV on DVD Review: The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Six

June 22nd, 2011

The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Six - Buy from Amazon

When The Secret Life of the American Teenager started, it earned mixed reviews from critics, who compared it to an after school special. However, that didn't stop its target audience from loving the show and it quickly became ABC Family's biggest hit. Since then, it has lost that title to Pretty Little Liars; in fact, the show's ratings have fallen from the 3.5 to 4.0 range last season to nearly below 2.0 a few times this season. Is this a case of teenage girls and their notoriously fickle nature moving onto other shows? Or has the quality dropped along with the ratings?

The Show

First a recap on what has previously happened on the The Secret Life of the American Teenager... Every male character on the show had sex with every female character on the show. And vice versa.

Okay, maybe that recap is a little snarky, but not excessively so. I have literally lost count of who has slept with whom on this show. The main couples right now are Amy and Ricky, that's the main star of the show and the boy who got her pregnant in the first place. The other major couple is Ben, who used to be in love with Amy, and Adrian , who used to be going out with Ricky. During the first part of season three, they had a one-night stand and Adrian got pregnant. Ben, being the person he is, decides he should marry Adrian, even though it is clear neither one of these people is mature enough to be in an adult relationship. Much of the second half of season three is dueling relationships, which means we have more scenes with Ben and Ricky arguing. Joy. We also have plenty of scenes with Amy becoming jealous that Adrian is going to get married before her, which is only slightly more tolerable, because at least Amy and Adrian have times where they are sympathetic.

Besides rotating relationships, and there's a lot of them to deal with, the episodes on this three-disc set also deals with STDs in a most heavy-handed way. Amy won't have sex with Ricky till he's tested, which he is hesitant to do, as he is worried what the results will be. He is told repeatedly that due to his sexual history his chances of having an STD are high, but he won't know for sure till he gets tested. It's not a bad plot for an episode, but the same points get repeated over and over again, and it gets dragged out over another episode. (Or re-used depending on your point of view.) Another after school special plot thread involves Ricky's mother, who is released from prison and tries to stay with Ricky, who is not interested. There's the dysfunctional family part of the relationship, the ex-con part of the plot, the recovering addict part, and later on the lesbian angle is thrown in for good measure. The season ends on a dramatic moment, and while it is handled better than some other similar moments have been handled in the past, the overall series still feels like a daytime soap opera.

One last note: The dialogue gets on my nerves. The characters keep repeating themselves in slightly different ways and it's driving me nuts. I would hate to be around these people when they were ordering food. 'I want a bacon cheeseburger. That's a cheeseburger with bacon on it. A hamburger with cheese and bacon. It can't be cheese or bacon. It has to be cheese and bacon.' And it's not just one or two characters, or one or two conversations. This happens all of the time.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD, but it does come with some iPod covers, for those who like to decorate their electronics.

The Verdict

I think The Secret Life of the American Teenager is on its way out. The stories are feeling stale, which suggests they've run out of creative power. And its ratings are down, which suggests the target audience has moved on. About the best I can say is the season ended on a dramatic high note, but that's still not enough to recommend buying Volume Six.

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