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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