MTV must believe that ‘Teen Mom‘ is forever pregnant with possibilities. Sources tell The New York Post the network has already cast a new yet-to-be-titled spin-off series, and has even begun shooting on location.
The popular teen pregnancy docu-drama has proven a bonafide ratings bonanza for MTV, with 6 million viewers tuning in to last Tuesday’s season finale, while many of the show’s stars have graced the covers of Us Magazine and People in recent months.
‘Teen Mom’ itself was initially spawned from the network’s other reality hit, ‘16 & Pregnant,’ which returns for a new season October 26. Perhaps the M in MTV should now stand for “maternity”?
Let’s take a look at the evidence:
1) ‘Jersey Shore’: As if cashing in on $30K an episode paychecks weren’t enough, Snooki and recently dismissed ‘Dancing’ star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino are in talks to headline their own spin-offs. Gel’ed superstar Pauly D, meanwhile, has already locked down a deal for his own show focusing on – what else? – his life as a DJ in Providence, R.I..
2) ‘The Hills’: ‘Laguna Beach’ begat ‘The Hills,’ which in turn begat ‘The City’ and Brody Jenner’s ‘Bromance.’ Now there are solo shows in the works for Lauren Conrad and Audrina Patridge. Conrad recently told Us that her series, which details her life as a clothing designer, will start shooting next week.
3) ‘Punk’d': OK, while this is technically a reboot, the network is planning a Justin Bieber-helmed updated version of Ashton Kutcher’s prank series.
4) ‘Skins’ and ‘Teen Wolf’: Again, if we want to get technical, neither of these upcoming scripted series are spin-offs per se, but they are both remakes of a wildly popular British series, and an 80s cult classic film, respectively.
Let’s be honest: all of these spin-offs aren’t exactly new news for MTV. They’ve had a long history of rejiggering existing shows to fit original, or slightly tweaked formats. Take ‘Real World/Road Rules Challenge,’ (‘The Real World’ + ‘Road Rules’ + ‘Survivor’), or ‘Viva La Bam,’ Bam Margera’s reality series born out of his ‘Jackass’ hijinks. Even ‘Jersey Shore’ seems to itself be molded from the network’s own ‘True Life: I Have A Summer Share.’ (Also, see above for the many ‘Laguna’/'Hills’ retools.)
The questions we’re posing here are these: Should MTV be focusing on original programming that is actually – what’s the word – original? Or is the old credo “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” a sufficient rule to live by?
For further pondering: Are all of these pregnancy shows sending the wrong message to teens who could believe that pregnancy is their lottery ticket to stardom? Discuss!