Last night, MTV premiered the first episode of the fifth season of 16 & Pregnant, leaving people around the country wondering when will it end? Five seasons of a show like this seems like too much, not to mention that 16 & Pregnant has given us three spin-off shows: Teen Mom, which lasted four seasons, Teen Mom 2, which just ended its fifth season, and Teen Mom 3, which has one season under its belt. I think it’s time to say, that’s enough now.
Yes, we do have something to thank 16 & Pregnant for. According to a study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there was a 5.7% reduction in teen births in the year and a half that followed the show’s television premiere. Although it’s not a big number, any reduction in this statistic is successful and especially given the show’s disturbing and pregnancy-deterring content. Not to mention the spin off shows, which are even more of a train wreck than the original.
This leads me to wonder how much longer can this show go on? Obviously, it can’t and won’t wipe out teen pregnancy completely, but it’s making a dent and that’s good. It’s not making enough of a dent that the show goes without cast members. And I wouldn’t expect it to. The real question is, why are these girls continuing to put their private, personal, and extremely conflicted pregnancies out there for the world to see? The majority of the episodes end in similar heartbreak and none of the young mothers ever come to the conclusion that they would recommend that route to another young woman. They know how it’s going to end, they know how they will be portrayed. Now that 16 & Pregnant has done its job and has positively affected teen pregnancy, it’s time to take it off the air. And perhaps it could encourage another small drop in the percentage of teen pregnancy by not giving people the option to become MTV celebrities.