It was a sad night last night as we had to say good-bye to our favorite reality show on television. Or perhaps we should all take a cue from Tyler and Catelynn and just say “See you later” to the young women and men of Teen Mom.
Thankfully MTV knows how to handle “see you laters” and they gave us an hour and a half worth of mama drama for the season finale. Here’s the full episode followed by a bulleted recap of what happened with each of the moms:
MACI BOOKOUT and RYAN EDWARDS
Maci’s struggles continued as she moved back to Chattanooga temporarily to hammer out the details of Bentley’s custody arrangement with baby daddy Ryan. It’s really difficult watching Maci’s emotional roller coaster because it seems as though she has been making mature decisions and trying to keep Bentley’s well-being at the top of her priority list, but she just can’t catch a break. After breaking up with Kyle King, who lured her to Nashville with the promise of being husband and father material before deciding work and Bentley and Maci was too much for him to handle, she had to deal with Ryan reneging on his visitation agreement and wanting more time with Bentley.
Ryan all but admits that it’s not really him wanting more time with Bentley, but his parents. (What is it with Ryan’s nervous habit of yawning anytime he is asked a serious question?) That being said, Maci realizes that having Bentley 10 days every two weeks to Ryan’s 4 is a a little unfair so she relents and gives him one more day. (Maci gets quite emotional at the thought of losing time with her son during the mediation hearing, something we don’t see from Ryan)
Maci tells her parents that it is her plan to remain in Nashville by herself because she feels it is making her stronger and forcing her to mature and deal with her situation on her own. I admit that it seems the best thing for Maci to do would be to move back to Chattanooga to have the support of her family as well as eliminate all the traveling required whenever Bentley needs to change parents, but I admire her for wanting to take the hard road and try to stand on her own two feet.
I’ve said it before and after Season Two I will say it again – I think Maci is by far the most mature of the Teen Moms who kept their baby. I’m sure she will have lots of detractors after “chasing” Kyle to Nashville and distancing Bentley from his father, but I still see a very strong and intelligent young woman who is trying to do what is best for her son without losing herself in the process. And I suppose editing could be to blame, but Ryan still seems completely disinterested as a father (and as a functioning part of society for that matter) so I’m not bothered by Maci’s move or by her reluctance to get back with him.
Here’s a bonus scene from the Season finale with Ryan and his parents discussing how many days he should have with Bentley:
• • • • • • • • • • • •
Farrah seems to be the Teen Mom that has made the most progress in Season 2. Not only has she made steps towards repairing the damaged relationship with her mother, Debra Danielson, but she has also allowed herself to begin the grieving process for her deceased former boyfriend and father of her child, Derek Underwood.
Since her first appearance on 16 and Pregnant Farrah has come across as arrogant with an unhealthy and impractical sense of entitlement, but during Season 2 we finally see that part of her get chipped away by reality. In addition to the emotional struggles of wrestling with Derek’s death and her volatile relationship with her mother, Farrah had to fend for herself in the “real world” of jobs, bills and criminals after your money. The result was pretty brutal as Farrah realized a part-time job at a pizza place wasn’t going to cut it.
In the final episode we see Farrah moving into her mother’s guest house and the remnants of the huge chip on her shoulder surface as the two battle over the lease agreement. For a moment it seems as though Farrah’s pride and he mom’s misguided way of making a point was going to land the two right back where they were at the beginning of the season, but eventually both relented and did seem to be able to find common ground on which to move forward.
We even get to see what a shy Farrah is like when she goes out on a date with her mom’s hairdresser’s son! Farrah gets a lot more attractive when her immature self-confidence is tempered with a bit of humility! (Are there really restaurants that serve peanut butter and bacon toast as an appetizer?!?)
All things said and done, things seem to be looking up for Farrah. She’s opened up about the death of her baby daddy Derek Underwood, she seems to be getting along with her mom (which seemed absolutely impossible earlier!) and she’s even able to date again. I think by the time Season 3 rolls around we’ll be seeing an entirely new – and much improved – Farrah! (The Reunion special should reveal a lot. I think the status of her relationship with her mom will be a really good indicator of whether or not she has continued to make progress. That isn’t to say that I think those issues are completely Farrah’s fault because Debra is obviously part of the problem, but whether or not Farrah has remained committed to making the relationship work – whatever it takes – will tell us a lot about her growth or lack thereof.)
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Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra
Catelynn and Tyler continue to be Teen Mom‘s greatest defense against criticism from those thinking the show glorifies teen pregnancy. (I think the struggles of Maci, Farrah and Amber are enough of a deterrent but lots of critics don’t agree)
The final episode follows Tyler and Catelynn as they take an 8-hour road trip to West Virginia to visit their birth daughter Carly and her adopted parents Brandon and Teresa. The trip is a physical journey as well as a metaphorical one as Tyler and Catelynn reflect on their decision to give their daughter up for adoption, pondering whether it was the right one and discussing the impact the decision had on their lives.
The two meet up with Brandon, Teresa and Carly for a picnic and the meeting goes just perfectly as Carly takes to her birth parents and the four “adults” have an intelligent conversation about the year that has transpired.
There aren’t many movie scenes that are as insightful or emotional as Teresa’s conversation with Catelynn about her relationship with her mother April. We have Brandon and Teresa, who are almost impossibly nice and caring, who desperately wanted to have a child and through the grace of adoption were given Carly, who they obviously cherish. Meanwhile we have a Precious-like Catelynn living with a resentful and bitter monster in April, and who has chosen to give up her daughter.
You can see Teresa’s heart break as Catelynn talks about her relationship with her mother – how April is resentful that Catelynn gave Carly up for adoption and isn’t miserable because of it. There are so many self-help groups and rehabilitation processes that are all about “breaking cycles,” and here we have a living example of that in this teenage couple from Michigan.
(Was I the only one who found myself yelling out loud to Teresa and Brandon, “Adopt Catelynn! Adopt Catelynn too!”)
The five meet up again the next day for lunch and Tyler and Catelynn present Carly’s scrapbook they have been working on for the last year. They also presented Carly with a book that contained an audio recording of Tyler and Carly reading the book aloud. (The book is Bright & Beautiful by Megan Langford and Theresa Trinder with illustrations by Jeanne Rittmueller) Teresa (and I) teared up as Tyler and Catelynn’s voices narrate to Carly how “bright and beautiful” she is. It’s as though they were saying Carly was too beautiful for them – that they knew they couldn’t be or provide what she deserved, at least not at that point in their lives. Considering how open Carly’s adoption is, I think it was the absolutely perfect gift. Bittersweet, but perfect nonetheless.
Catelynn and Tyler seem surprisingly at ease after saying “see you later” to Carly. If it were a movie they would have hopped in their car and kept driving in the opposite direction of Michigan, toward a new home that couldn’t possibly be any worse than the emotional morass they were leaving behind. But sadly, that didn’t happen. (I really don’t understand those folks who think this show romanticizes teen pregnancy.)
Tyler and Catelynn made a very admirable decision given their situation and they seem to be dealing with that decision in a very mature way, but that being said, I can’t really say that they seem to have made much progress since season one. Even though I have a sneaking suspicion that all the “phone records” nonsense was sort of manufactured drama to justify keeping them on the show, Tyler and Catelynn still seem to have their wheels stuck in the mud as far as getting on with their lives without Carly. Is there really a good reason to be flunking high school this long after the adoption? And how in the world haven’t they figured out SOME way to get Catelynn out of April’s house?!? That environment is downright dangerous! Once again, I think we will learn a lot with the updates we get on the reunion show next week.
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Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley
Amber and Gary seem to be the only couple who have gotten worse since their debut on 16 and Pregnant.
Amber’s disturbingly violent behavior towards Gary has been talked about often on this site as well as the covers of numerous tabloids, even sparking an apology video from Amber and a police investigation into domestic violence charges against her. Sadly, the Season Finale was filmed long before the fallout from her attack on Gary in the stairwell so we got to see more of the same last night as Gary continued to push her buttons and Amber gave herself over to rage once more.
Though there was no punching, choking or slapping we did get to see more of Amber’s screaming and an angry hat flip as she argued with Gary over her new boyfriend Chris. Gary was upset that Amber invited Chris to move in not long after they had begun dating and that she let him change their daughter Leah’s diaper. Normally I think Gary would have come out as the bad guy in this, but given the false sex offender rumors about Amber’s new beau and his creepy interactions with her on screen I think most folks were kind of on his side. (Which isn’t really fair because at this point Gary still hasn’t even met Chris)
There was one moment when I thought we were actually going to have Teen Mom‘s very first car chase as Amber tracked down Gary while arguing with him over the phone and he panicked and drove away! The conversation continued later that night as Gary attempted to hammer out some sort of schedule for taking care of Leah.
Things escalated when Gary brought up his concerns about Chris moving in so soon, got worse when he insinuated Amber was a bad mother because Leah didn’t have clean clothes, and then exploded when Gary found out Chris had been changing Leah’s diapers.
I don’t know what else to say about these two. In any other scenario Gary would be seen as a lazy dad with absolutely no direction or goals, but compared to Amber he looks like a chubby white Bill Cosby! I think this situation was summed up perfectly when Leah pointed at Amber, who was crying and screaming, and said, “Quiet now!” They absolutely have to get that child out of that environment! It’s already obvious that she is growing up thinking this is the way normal people behave.
I can’t wait to see what Dr. Drew has to say about these two!