Does MTV purposefully encourage drama and conflict on the Teen Mom shows?

16 & Pregnant Whitney Purvis

ABC News has run another lengthy piece on the phenomenon of MTV’s Teen Mom franchise questioning if the show glorifies teen pregnancy.  This is a topic we have discussed on numerous occasions here at Starcasm.  This writer believes that if you watch the shows there isn’t much at all about the lives and uphill battles that these young women face that glorifies anything about their situations.

There is the new phenomenon of the cast members becoming celebrities due to the popularity of the shows but that’s a different animal.  Even Kim Kardashian weighed in on the issue with a blog I like to call the “Preggersburg Address” that has evolved into a strange war of words between the sex tape starring celebrity and Teen Moms Amber Portwood and Jenelle Evans.

What did stick out from this report is a statement that one of the girls profiled on 16 & Pregnant, Whitney Purvis (seen in photo above), made about her perception from personal experience that the show was manipulated to create drama.  She told ABC that:

“Some people they just think it’s so cool that I was on TV. They treat me like I’m a celebrity or something. You know you don’t have to have sex. If you do, be smart because this is what happens.

They [MTV producers] would take you in separate rooms and then they would film me with my friends and my boyfriend with his friends and just get you to talk about the things you don’t like about each other. They want you to argue … they want you to talk about each other, they want you to get where you want to break up with each other to go stay at separate places. .. .And … I just didn’t like that at all.”

She went on to tell ABC that she was paid $5,000 for appearing on the show.  You can catch our comprehensive summary of Whitney’s episode including video here.

Here’s the video report filed by ABC:

MTV responded with a statement to ABC that addresses Whitney’s comments and the notion that these shows encourage teen pregnancy:

As part of the filming process we sometimes ask cast members to talk about their stories to provide context and background on what they’re going through, but we do not influence the stories in any way — this is a documentary and our cameras are there to capture real life situations as they unfold.

We absolutely don’t solicit and would never knowingly cast anyone who chose to get pregnant on purpose — that is the exact opposite of the intent of the show.

“16 and Pregnant” is designed to cast a light on the harsh realities teens face when dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, the show has been called one of the best public service announcements for preventing teen pregnancy because it is a gritty, unvarnished look at the reality of unplanned teen pregnancy, and research by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that among teens who have watched “16 and Pregnant,’ 82 percent think the show helps teens better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it.

So what do you think? Does MTV manipulate these young women to heighten drama on the show or are Teen Mom, Teen Mom 2 and their predecessor 16 & Pregnant accurate portrayals of their lives at the time the cameras are present?

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  • Jennie

    I think to a point they probably to try to create a little more Drama. Think about it, without the crappy Baby’s father, and the tears and the drama, the show wouldn’t be as exciting. The producers don’t care about they kids they are filming, they only care about getting a good episode.

    • me

      I think to an extent it might be “coached” but look at Adam. Does anyone really think anyone has to coach him to be an A*hole? No he is a natural at it. The thing that really bothers me about the whole show is that how much these girls are getting paid. I am so glad MTV is trying to shine a bad light on teen pregnancies to prevent them but when you pay these girls enough money to get boob jobs it kind of shines a bad light on the show itself. I think they should pay for the girls/even good babies daddies to go to school and maybe even by them a vehicle to get back and forth. Then set up a trust fund so that IF and WHEN they finish school they can have the money to do whatever they please with then. I just dont think they are thinking clearly enough to have such freedom right now. Think about it they will only be “famous” for just a little while so they couldve saved all that money for the future.

  • Jessica

    Jennie I think you are right because Whitney is not the first girl from the series to speak out about the producers coaching them to say bad things about their boyfriend. The sad part about this show is yeah they are fun to watch but when the show is over and the producers are gone these girls are the one that are going to have to deal with the hardship of being a single parent for the rest of their lives. I dont think the show is real or gritty I think for the most part mtv scriped some of the stories to add more drama

    • Alyssa

      I’m guesing your not a teen mother? Coming from one, this show is REAL. Most guys do not stick around for you, or the child. You have drama within your family b/c they are pissed your knocked up. You have financial issues to deal with. It IS real. Except for the fact THEIR financial issues are a lie. They get paid good money for teen mom. Now 16&P is only one episode. SO they don’t get that much for it. $5,000 with a baby doesn’t last too long. On Teen Mom, they get $6,000 an episode (a girl from the show comfirmed on formspring) it’s at the 11 episode right now and we are execting at least 3-4 more. Do the math. They don’t have real financial issues. Maybe at first. (It was said by one of the girls they didn’t get paid until they were done filming)But not anymore. That money, (if used wisley) should last awhile. I work 55hours a week to support my son and sometimes it’s still not enough. The hardships ARE real. The drama IS real. If you haven’t walked a mile in someone’s shoes, do not judge.

      • Jessica

        maybe you should shut up because you dont know he stuff iv been through i am a teen mom i had my daughter when i was 14.

        • Megan

          Maybe you should go back to school and learn how to spell, because I just wasted a minute of my life I’ll never get back reading your grammar mistakes. I had my son at 17, and now own a home and have my name on a Bachelor’s Degree.

          Just because you had your child young doesn’t give you an excuse to be uneducated and hostile (look it up.) MTV does portray drama, many young people (such as myself)have great lives and experienced great pregnancies/relationships.

          • Megan

            Also, I’m 20. So I got my degree in 4 years (from 16-early graduation class).

  • Unknown

    Hmm I believe with Amber’s situation MTV did NOT tell her to punch Garry or do the domestic violence case. I also believe that MTV did NOT tell Jenelle to smoke weed on the porch. Amber has had CPS called to her house since the show and Jenelle has went to jail also. Amber also went to jail for her domestic violence issue as well. So, if these girls thought it was MTV’s fault for going to jail, CPS coming to their house, a criminal record now or whatever then why do they continue to film right after everything? If thats true what Whitney is saying, she was smart to stop. But, I think it’s all dumb to do for fame and money. All these reality shows from Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, Real World, Basketball Wives are all edited. If there was no drama in anything for the months they are taping they wouldn’t get no ratings/views. I know if they came to my house and taped me for months they wouldn’t put me on there cause I don’t go nowhere, don’t go to clubs, have no drama, sleep alot and be on the computer. So, of course MTV is going to deny it. If they admitted to everybody what they did their viewers would more than likely go down. Remember when The Hills Finale came on? They basically admitted it was pretty much all fake/acting at the very very end.

  • Unknown

    Also, 1 more thing, dont know if any of you remember that one girl Ebony and her finance was Josh and named her baby girl is named Jocelyn Jade and they both wanted to go in the Air Force they were on 16 and Pregnant with the season 1 girls. She also didn’t move on to Teen Mom along with Whitney. So, she probably didn’t want to go on there for the same reason. It would be interesting to know why she didn’t. I wished ABC would have interviewed her as well.

    • Silas

      I doubt they chose not to go onto teen mom. Teen Mom only involves a small group of girls from 16 and pregnant and I’m assuming it’s the ones that offer the most drama and interest. Like Leah’s twins, and Janelle being psychotic. I think Whitney and the others were just too boring and didnt have enough going on. I doubt it was up to her to be on Teen Mom, probably just sour grapes she doesnt get to rake in more money.

  • unknown

    Ebony and Josh did do an interview with someone, i’m not sure who though. She said MTV didn’t want them for Teen Mom cause they didn’t have any drama. They got married and are currently planning another child soon.

    Actually here is her facebook,!/lovinmomma09 she’s talked about it numerous times on there also.

  • Jgray31

    When you have teen boys,teen girls and sex there is always going to be drama. MTV documenting it should help teens to not make the decision to have unprotected sex. Most cases of teen pregnancy turn out exactly like the situations in the shows so why is that a problem. Why are people afraid of the truth? When teens go through adult situations these things happen.

  • Starry

    I can agree with this. A few years ago, my cousin’s high school was chosen by MTV to film a pilot for a reality show about high school (the show never got picked up, and the pilot is probably in the TV film graveyard somewhere).
    Anyway….the MTV crews came to my cousin’s house to film her intereacting with her family so she asked me to come along. Basically the producers/cameramen told us “Ok, why don’t you cook dinner and we’ll film you all talking and interacting”, then, they started feeding us questions and topics like “Ask your cousin what she wants to do after graduation, and then how do you feel about her plans? Tell her”, or “What kind of drama goes on at your school, what are the other kids like?”, stuff like that. Then before we knew it they were pretty much dictating the entire scene. It was like we were acting and it wasnt real at all.
    It seems to be a pretty common theme with MTV reality shows, especially True Life. You notice people ALWAYS eating together, going out to eat, and asking each other mundane and dumb questions. I totally see MTV doing this in the Teen Mom series.

  • amy

    obviously its somewhat staged. especially when they go in for an application, you know they discuss it with the resturant before the girls like jenelle actually go in. they have to have there premission to record it. and of course they act more dramatic on film, thats what keeps it interesting. do you think they are going to record chelsey or leah stiiting on the couch all day eating and watching tv? noooo,,,who would watch that.its not really showing how true everyday girls go through hardships with babies. these girls are being well compensated for there time. one of the girls stated that after all is said in done she will be pocketing over 80,000. not bad to argue and fight on tv and be all dramatic. like maci from season 1 living it up getting boob jobs. so pathetic

  • Callie

    It’s sad because it does in a way promote pregnancy rather than try and show girls how hard it is. If they wanted to prove a point, they would have had one season and been done with it. But instead they’re going for ratings and having season after season.
    Also, the girls themselves do a good job of making being a teen mom seem almost fun. Off the show I mean. They have hundreds of thousands of fans on facebook and same with all their followers on twitter. Chelsea used her fame to talk to members from The Real World and Dierks Bentley, Maci got a boob job, Jenelle is trying to launch some rap career. I’m due in 2 weeks, and I’m pretty sure that after having my child I’m not going to be chatting it up with the cast of TRW or being able to afford a boob job anytime in the near future.
    These girls make me want to be on 16&Pregnant/Teen Mom so I could make extra money on the side for my kid’s future and I could talk to people who otherwise wouldn’t give me the time of day. The only thing stopping me is that I don’t want to exploit my child like that and I don’t want to make younger girls think it’s cool like this show already does well enough.
    Just saying.

  • Courtney

    It’s MTV. Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant are reality t.v. shows. They have to entertain their audiences, or else MTV has no ratings, it has no shows, it has no business. Their main priority is to get themselves better ratings, more views. You can’t sit here and convince me otherwise that they don’t try to intensify an already tough situation. They make not purposely make the people on the show argue and fight or “tell” them what to do per say, but they sure as heck aren’t going to miss an opportunity to show the drama filled moments of all the girls and their families rather than the boring, dull moments. That’s what draws attention. It’s common sense.

  • Lizzzy

    I don’t think teen mom promotes girls to have babys ! I got pregnant before this show came out or before I ever saw it ! I never knew it would be as hard as it Is to have a baby until I had one and now that I lived I know what their going through but I will admit some girls can be dramatic but for the girls that have cried it’s not for the camera there people they still have emotions with or without the camera it’s really hard to cry on que when your not a trained actor! Right?