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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Five DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
The Secret Life of the American Teenager (aka The Secret Life) should keep its secrets to itself!  I admit that my taste in movies and tv shows rivals that of any fourteen year old girl. That’s slightly embarrassing given the fact that I just turned 33.  That being said, it was painful to sit through 602 minutes of The Secret Life.  The first episode was still playing when I began thinking about throwing everyone involved in making this series into one of those Star Wars garbage smasher things.  I would then make sure R2-D2 was nowhere around to help them – because they should be punished for what they have done!

Film (1 out of 5 stars)

I have not seen Secret Life Volumes one through four.  This struck me as the kind of show you could quickly get into without going back to the beginning.  If it was a good show, I might have gone back to watch the other seasons.  It was not a good show.  Volume five not only failed to make me want to watch volumes one through four, it didn’t even make me want to finish volume five.
I do not know a high school on earth where people dress like the girls on this show.  This is not like Beverly Hills 90210 where the teenagers were actually in their 30s.  These actor appear to be high school age, but at best are dressed like they are going clubbing and at worst are dressed like hookers.
Which is appropriate since this show is all about sex.  The teenage actors are constantly having sex, talking about sex, talking about not having sex, talking about who may or may not be having sex, and oddest of all talking to their parents about sex.   The show has multiple intertwined families and all the kids seem to openly talk to their parents about sex, relationships, birth control, etc.  I’m starting to think the show was written by an orphan who never had parents and has no idea how teenagers relate to their parents.  That orphan must have never had children of her own because she doesn’t know how parents talk to their kids either.  She’s never met teenage boys either because she doesn’t realize that they don’t have the same heart to heart talks some teenage girls do.  I am assuming it was written by a woman because I can’t believe a guy would write this crap.
Aside from a bunch of teenage actors I’ve never heard of, the show stars Molly Ringwald as one of the moms.  She was in a bunch of my favorite movies growing up, so I was very sad to see her in this especially when I realize that she must have taken this job to pay her mortgage.  The fact that she doesn’t break character and look at the camera to scream “this is stupid” means she is an Oscar worthy actress.
As best I could follow, the big drama of this season is that Amy and Ben love each other, but Ben slept with Adrian and she is pregnant.  She struggles over the decision to keep the baby and the show could easily be repackaged and sold as an after school special.  Other couples have relationships, and the show touches on their parents relationships as well.  One set of parents is ready to leave their high schooler behind while dad takes a new job in another state. Another set of parents are newlyweds, and  a third set are having marital problems.  None of the parents’ issues are any more interesting than the problems the kids are facing on this show.

Video (2 out of 5 stars) 

Video quality is fine, content is the problem here.  The show is presented in a widescreen (1.78:1) transfer that is acceptable but not noteworthy.  Being DVD, the image is soft and detail not as sharp as I would prefer but overall this is typical of DVD shows.

Audio (2 out of 5 stars) 

The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix favors the center channel which is to be expected on a dialogue focused show. The rest of the channels aren’t used and again, this is a typical DVD offering.  The set up menu offers subtitles in English (for the hearing impared), French and Spanish.   Overall, the audio quality is adequate, but not spectacular in any way.

Special Features (1 out of 5 stars) 

The only thing more painful than watching The Secret Life show itself, is watching the fifteen year old girl they have interviewing people in the special features.  It is horribly awkward, which is shame because the director seems like a somewhat interesting guy.
  • On Set with Director Anson Williams – We learn about Anson Williams time on Happy Days, other projects he’s been involved with, and that he is related to the dude that invented the Heimlich maneuver.   Its too bad they didn’t let a real interviewer ask him a few questions.
  • On Set Fist Bumps with Joey and Matthew – meet the twin toddlers that work on the show.  The kids are cute, as all toddlers are – but this feature goes on way too long.
  • On Set with Shailene – Teenager talking to teenager about nothing interesting
  • On Set with Luke – Teenager talking to different teenager and I still don’t care what they are saying.

Final Thoughts (1 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

The back of the DVD tells us to watch Secret Life as “relationships are pushed to the limit and life-changing decisions are made”.  This show has pushed my patience to the limit.  When I say I hate something, this is the new standard by which I will judge hatred.  I hate green beans, but I’d rather eat them than watch more of this show.  There are three discs in the set, and each time I put in a new disc I thought it couldn’t possibly be worst than the last.  I understand that the show has become pretty popular but I don’t understand why.  I really did try hard to like it since I’ve been a fan of Molly Ringwald since The Breakfast Club but I just couldn’t do it.
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