MTV’s ratings-knockout ‘Teen Mom,’ which depict teen moms—Maci, Amber, Farrah, and Catelynn—going through the hardships of being new parents, was considered an ingenious way of using reality TV as birth control. But now with Life & Style’s report that the teen moms’ salaries range from $60-$65K per season—not to to mention they’ve already graced the covers of mags like Us Weekly, OK! Magazine, and People—it looks like the celebrity and financial opportunity it’s bringing the young ladies could be sending mixed messages to young viewers.
Here’s an excerpt of Life & Style’s press release:
“The Teen Mom stars earn $60,000 to $65,000 per season,” a series insider tells Life & Style. It’s enough to provide on-again, off-again couple Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley with comfortable lives—but neither one seems to be a good saver. “Gary says he’s broke,” Gary’s best friend, Jordan Sanchez, tells Life & Style. “The money is the only reason he’s willing to do the show. You can’t walk away from money like that.”
While industry insiders like to argue that the teens’ compensation is substantially lower than that of ‘The Hills‘ and ‘Jersey Shore‘ cast members, could they be missing the point of those concerned about its possible negative consequences—on so many different levels?
Consider the reality of the reality show itself. As the Daily Beast pointed out: “While their compensation may not be as large as that of other reality-television stars, it may make viewers wonder about the show’s authenticity. Why is Maci waitressing and Amber kvetching about paying the bills?”
Other media outlets like ABCNews.com question how effective the anti-teen pregnancy message is by asking college-aged fans of the show how they felt. “Amber thought she was pregnant again … she obviously didn’t learn her lesson. Catelyn thought she was pregnant again too … the show makes pregnancy look ok,” said one student, referring to the pregnancy scares the characters had had at the beginning of ‘Teen Mom’s second season.
Still, the Teen Mom “stars” defend the show, emphatically claiming in interviews that it’s absolutely real and stays true to its original message. “I feel like if you really sit down and watch the show, I don’t think it shows any single thing of glamorizing teen pregnancy,” cast member Catelynn Lowell recently told ‘Today‘s Matt Lauer.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a huge supporter of the show, also added: “To say that these shows on teen pregnancy glamorize — it’s just the same as saying ‘The Biggest Loser’ glamorizes obesity. That’s just nonsense.”