Following in her mother's footsteps, Bristol Palin is transitioning to television. America's favorite teen mother will appear on an upcoming episode of ABC Family teen drama The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, reports David Itzkoff in The New York Times. The series is produced by 7th Heaven creator Brenda Hampton and focuses primarily on "an unwed teenage mother dealing with the consequences of her pregnancy." Bristol will play a fictionalized version of herself. Said Bristol in a press release: "I am thrilled to be on this show and to be part of a program that educates teens and young adults about the consequences of teen pregnancy."
Many media watchers are baffled and uncomfortable about the circumstances of Bristol's major TV debut.
- What's the Real Message? Slate's Jessica Grose wonders if Bristol Palin is an appropriate spokeswoman for abstinence, citing Palin's inconsistency in discussing her feelings on her pregnancy:
There's a dissonance between Bristol's real life and her public persona. In reality she's suing her baby's daddy for child support and is in the middle of a messy custody fight. On Oprah, she's a cleanly scrubbed role model for America's girls who says she's going to be celibate until she gets a ring ... And then there's the more cynical read of Bristol's recent abstinence promotion: It's all orchestrated by Sarah Palin, who wants a new spin on her daughter's unfortunate teen pregnancy and failed romance."
- A Match Made In Heaven? Sara Libby at True/Slant is irked by the aroma of hypocrisy surrounding the show, echoing Grose's concerns:
"Secret Life" is a world in which otherwise mild-mannered, average teens don't care about college prep classes or football games - there is only sex, sex and sex. Yet it's packaged somehow in a way that has made it palatable to a channel that presumes to cater to good Christian families that likely expect their kids to have other things on their minds. Therefore, a girl who goes on FOX News and Oprah wearing conservative dresses and talking up virginity pledges but who actually has a living, breathing reminder of the fact that she, too, had sex belongs on just such a show.
- Go Teen Pregnancy! Mediaite's Glynnis MacNicol is concerned about the Bristol Palin's role in the public spotlight: "The most famous teenage mother in America. I'm not sure whether to be disturbed by that phrase (celebrity magazines have spent the last few years fetishizing pregnancy) or encouraged by the utter absence of a negative stigma."