The new season of “Teen Mom” starts Tuesday night (June 12) on MTV with perhaps its most notorious character — Amber Portwood — in jail and serving a sentence of up to five years for drug possession.
Amber’s life leading up to her current woes will be one of the storylines the show will pursue in this, its final season, according to MTV and this story on the showbiz Web site HollywoodLife.com.
In addition to Amber, the show will also feature returning characters Farrah Abraham of Hollywood, Fla., Maci Bookout of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Catelynn Lowell of Port Huron, Mich., MTV says.
Hollywood Life says the season premiere has Amber talking candidly about her legal troubles, which, at the time the show was filmed, preceded her current jail sentence. “So, I plead guilty to first and third degree of domestic battery, two class A felonies, and they took off the neglect of a child,” the Web site quotes her as saying on the show. “My plea is two years probation and 30-60 days in rehab for anger control, substance abuse, and mental health.”
In a press release, MTV had this description of the Amber storyline: “After dealing with intense emotional struggles, events escalate and Amber enters rehab. Although she tries to heal herself and find balance, her anxiety heightens as she worries that her daughter Leah will forget her while she’s gone. Her relationship with Gary continues to be turbulent, but they try to work on their issues in hopes of keeping their family together.”
Currently, Portwood is in an Indiana jail starting a five-year stretch that she could have avoided if she had reported to a court-mandated rehabilitation program. But just this month, her sentence was reinstated after she failed to appear for rehab.
Our take on “Teen Mom”: What amazes us is how fast this TV show came and went. It was less than three years ago that this show first made its debut — in December 2009 — but it made an almost-immediate impact on the popular culture, igniting a debate about teen pregnancy.
Some (including MTV executives and publicists) said the show dealt honestly with the consequences of teen-aged pregnancy, showing young viewers the challenges and pitfalls of becoming parents while still in high school — lessons that would hopefully discourage them from engaging in unprotected sex.
But others felt the show glamorized teen pregnancy, particularly when the “stars” of “Teen Mom” came to be seen increasingly on the covers of entertainment magazines displayed on newsstands and supermarket magazine racks. Critics said this had the effect of actually encouraging some attention-starved teens to become pregnant.
Which side are we on in this debate? Neither, since we make no claim to understanding the behavior of teenagers.
The new season of “Teen Mom” starts with two back-to-back episodes on Tuesday, June 12, at 10/9c on MTV.