The Secret Life of the American Teenager is an American television series from 7th Heaven creator Brenda Hampton. The show debuted on ABC Family on July 1, 2008. The teen drama focuses on the relationships between families and friends dealing with the unexpected teenage pregnancy of character Amy Juergens, portrayed by Shailene Woodley.
The Secret Life ranked number one with the network's key demographic in its debut time slot versus cable television shows. The show earned the Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer TV Show during its premier season.
Season One will have a total of 23 episodes, split into two runs. The first run of 11 episodes ended September 9, 2008, and the second run is scheduled to begin in January 2009. The show has also been picked up by Canadian Broadcaster Citytv who started airing Season 1 in Canada on September 3, 2008.
The show follows a 15-year old girl Amy Juergens, who is smart, talented and pregnant. Additional intertwining story-lines follow Christian cheerleader Grace, who wants to wait until marriage to have sex much to the dismay of her boyfriend Jack; and Adrian and Ricky who have a casual relationship.
- Shailene Woodley as Amy Juergens, a 15-year-old girl who plays French horn in the school marching band. She is pregnant by Ricky Underwood.
- Kenny Baumann as Benjamin "Ben" Boykewich, Amy's boyfriend. Ben asks Amy to marry him after he learns of her pregnancy. He constantly reminds her of his offer of marriage, with his father's support. He frequently tells Amy that he loves her. His mother died when he was young.
- Daren Kagasoff as Ricky Underwood, a drummer in the school band and the father of Amy's baby. Ricky is in foster care because he was sexually abused by his father, who "stole his childhood." He is promiscuous and romantically involved with both Adrian and Grace.
- Francia Raisa as Adrian Lee, a promiscuous girl at Amy's school. She is a member of the majorettes squad, and does well at academics. She seeks an exclusive relationship with Ricky.
- Megan Park as Grace Kathleen Bowman, a devoted Christian. She once wore a purity ring (referred to as a promise ring on the show). She is the head cheerleader, and is very perky and bubbly. She is Jack's ex-girlfriend.
- Greg Finley II as Jack Pappas, a football player and Grace's ex-boyfriend. Grace ends her relationship with Jack after she learns of his and Adrian's sexual relationship. He repeatedly tries to rekindle his romantic relationship with Grace.
- Renee Olstead as Madison Cooperstein. Madison is one of Amy's best friends. She unintentionally spreads gossip and rumours.
- Camille Winbush as Lauren Treacy. Lauren is one of Amy's best friends. She causes rifts in her friendships due to her relationship with Ricky.
- Jorge Pallo as Marc Molina, the school guidance counselor. He mysteriously disappears from school in the mid-season one finale.
- Mark Derwin as George Juergens, Amy's father. He is discontent with his marriage, and once cheated on his wife with Adrian's mother. George was previously married to Mrs. Kathleen Bowman, Grace's mother.
- Molly Ringwald as Anne Juergens, Amy's mother. She is supportive and understanding of Amy's pregnancy. She and George share a rocky relationship.
- India Eisley as Ashley Juergens, Amy's rebellious 13-year-old sister. She occasionally lies to her parents in an attempt to protect Amy.
- Josie Bissett as Kathleen Bowman, Grace's mother and George Juergens's ex-wife.
- John Schneider as Marshall Bowman, Grace's overprotective father.
- Luke Zimmerman as Tom Bowman, Grace's brother, who has Down syndrome. Like Ricky, he doesn't live with his biological parents; he was adopted by the Bowmans.
- Amy Rider as Alice Valko, one of Ben's best friends and Henry's girlfriend since third grade. She knows a lot of the statistics about high school students and sex.
- Allen Evangelista as Henry Miller, one of Ben's best friends and Alice's boyfriend since third grade. He is conflicted about his relationship with Alice, especially after meeting Ashley.
- Ernie Hudson as Dr. Ken Fields, Ricky's therapist and Lauren's father.
- Andrew McFarlane as Jason Treacy, Lauren's brother and Madison's eventual boyfriend.
- Steve Schirripa as Leo Boykewich, Ben's widowed father. He is known as "The Sausage King." He comforts Anne after she learns the truth about George.
- Paola Turbay as Cindy Lee, Adrian's mother. She works as a flight attendant and is rarely home. She and George have an affair.
- Deborah Raffin as Dr. Hightower, the pediatrician for the Juergens.
The Secret Life of the American Teenager
was originally proposed to Fox
approximately a decade ago. Fox eventually turned the show away. After a refusal from Lifetime
, Hampton eventually drafted six scripts for the show and submitted them to a variety of networks including The CW and ABC Family. ABC Family took up the show, which is produced inhouse for a modest budget of $1.5 million per episode, below the average $2.5 million for a primetime television network series.
The Secret Life of the American Teenager
received mixed reviews during its premier season. It was criticized for wanting "to be a slow-motion version of Juno
but [settling] for being an obvious, stereotype-laden teen soap..." by Variety
. It was praised for having a set of characters that are "...real and come from families of all stripes - from intact to single-parent households to one boy in foster care..." by the New York Post
Despite the mixed reviews, The Secret Life received the highest premiere viewership ratings ever for an ABC Family original program. The pilot episode brought in 2.82 million viewers and a 0.9/3 share in the 18-49 year old demographic. The Secret Life also scored high in the female demographic, registering a 6.5/24 among female teenagers and a 3.1/11 among 12-34 year old females. The premiere only ranks behind the first season finale of Kyle XY in terms of viewers for an ABC Family program. Starting with the show's fifth episode, The Secret Life received higher total viewership ratings than any of The CW's Gossip Girl episodes.
Despite tough competition from the series premiere of 90210 on The CW, The Secret Life defeated the first hour of 90210 in viewers 12-34 and females 12-34, and brought in some of its best ratings for the series, in its mid-season finale episode. The mid-season one finale saw The Secret Life beating 90210 in all their key demographics and also in total viewers
Season One Weekly Ratings
| Episode #
|| Air Date
|| Reference(s) |
|| "Falling in Love"
|| July 1, 2008
|| "You Are My Everything"
|| July 8, 2008
|| "I Feel Sick"
|| July 15, 2008
|| July 22, 2008
|| "What Have You Done to Me?"
|| July 29, 2008
|| "Love For Sale"
|| August 5, 2008
|| August 12, 2008
|| "Your Cheatin' Heart"
|| August 19, 2008
|| "Slice of Life"
|| August 26, 2008
|| "Back to School Special"
|| September 2, 2008
|| "Just Say No"
|| September 9, 2008
|| "The Secret Wedding of the American Teenager"
|| January 13, 2009
|| "Baked Nevada"
|| January 20, 2009
The Secret Life
won the Teen Choice Award
for Choice Summer TV Show in August 2008.