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The Secret Life of the American Teenager (often shortened to Secret Life) is an American teen drama television series created by Brenda Hampton. It first aired on ABC Family on July 1, 2008 and ran until June 3, 2013. The show was renewed for a second season consisting of 24 episodes on February 9, 2009, which began airing on June 22, 2009. On January 12, 2010, ABC Family announced that Secret Life would return for its third season, which premiered on June 7, 2010. On January 9, 2011, ABC Family announced the show would return for its fourth season on March 26, 2011. On February 2, 2012, ABC Family renewed the series for a fifth and final season. On October 9, 2012, it was announced that the fifth season of The Secret Life of the American Teenager would be the final season. The series finale aired on June 3, 2013.
The series received generally negative reviews from mainstream critics when it began broadcasting, but was well received among female and teenage viewers. The pilot episode broke the record for the highest rated debut on ABC Family, which has been broken by the second season premiere, beating Kyle XY, with 2.82 million viewers. The season one finale brought in 4.50 million viewers, beating that night's episode of Gossip Girl, which had less than half its usual number of viewers. Premiering to mostly positive reviews from critics and being well received among viewers, the second season of Secret Life opened with the largest audience the series has seen so far, posting a series high in total viewers with 4.68 million viewers; in adults 18–34 it is the number one scripted original premiere of Summer 2009. Furthermore, the mid-season premiere became ABC Family's most watched telecast of all time with viewers ages 12–34 with more than three million viewers watching.
The show has earned the Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer TV Show during its premiere season, and spawned a book entitled The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens.
Season One primarily focuses on Amy Juergens becoming pregnant after having sex with Ricky Underwood at band camp. She confides in her best friends Lauren and Madison who try to convince her to go out with Ben Boykevich, a classmate who has fallen in love with her, and then claim the baby is his as his family is rich. Amy refuses to go along with the lie and tells Ben the truth, but he is surprisingly supportive and offers to marry her anyway, despite the protests of his friends Henry and Alice. When Ricky finds out he is the father, he is willing to be a part of his future child's life, causing Adrian Lee, Ricky's friend with benefits to become jealous, especially since Ricky already has his sights on the sweet and virginal Grace Bowman, who was going out with Jack Pappas until he cheated on her with Adrian. Still, much to Adrian's surprise, Grace is not angry with her and the two girls slowly become friends despite being romantic rivals. Ricky and Ben also compete with each other for Amy's attention and at the end of the season, Amy has her child, a boy whom she names John and then decides to keep, after struggling with the decision over the course of the season.
In Season Two, Amy's parents Anne and George have separated and Anne even begins dating again, but when she becomes pregnant again, it is revealed that the baby is George's. At the same time, Ashley begins her freshman year at Grant High and resents the legacy Amy has accidentally created as a teenage mother so she befriends a gay classmate named Griffin and they both pledge to remain abstinent throughout high school. Meanwhile, Amy struggles to raise John and frequently argues with Ricky over custodial arrangements, especially since Ben is becoming jealous of Ricky's constant presence. Eventually, Ben and Amy break up while Ricky and Adrian have agreed to date officially but Ricky has issues being faithful. Grace loses her virginity to Jack on the same night her father dies in a plane crash and is irrationally wracked with guilt, and breaks up with him for good. She and her brother Tom have trouble adjusting when their mother decides to remarry again. Adrian begins to reach out to Amy in order to make peace so Amy, John, and Ricky can be a family with less drama. The season's events culminate with Adrian cheating on Ricky with Ben on the night of the Mother/Daughter dance, in an attempt to get back at Ricky for kissing Amy. Ricky is angry at the both of them and breaks up with Adrian and refuses to forgive Ben, thus crushing their already fragile friendship.
In Season Three, everyone finds out Adrian is pregnant with Ben's baby. Ben and Amy continue to date and start considering taking their relationship to the next level. George and Anne Juergens have officially divorced and Anne lives closer to her mother while George stays at the house with Amy and Ashley. Ashley drops out of school and begins homeschooling herself. Kathleen Bowman's husband goes to Zimbabwe for a medical mission to bring aid to third world people and returns in the season finale with a proposal that he and Kathleen return to live and explore the world. Kathleen is hesitant to accept, not wanting to leave Grace and Tom behind by themselves. Adrian and Ben decide to get married and the ceremony occurs near the end of the season. In the two-part season finale, Ben and Adrian are living together in their condo and Adrian begins to sense that something might be wrong with their baby. They decide to call the doctor, who has them meet her at the hospital as soon as possible. The baby is revealed to be stillborn. Amy is upset by this and decides to have sex with Ricky instead of going away for the weekend.
In Season Four, Amy and Ricky begin to get closer while Amy and John begin to move in with Ricky in his apartment, which is above the butcher shop. Meanwhile, Ashley leaves to go on a road trip with her boyfriend Toby. Grace goes to Zimbabwe and meets a new guy named Daniel who later becomes her boyfriend. Jack and Madison break up forcing Jack to do all the senior stuff with Grace who he is still in love with. Adrian is depressed as she lost her baby and Ben wants to leave, but doesn't have the heart to do so. Adrian figures out that he wants to leave, and tries to seduce him so she can get pregnant again. Later Adrian sets her goal towards Ricky. Ricky proposes to Amy and she accepts. Afterwards, Jesse has a graduation party and everyone is invited. Adrian goes with Omar, her new boyfriend. Daniel's ex-girlfriend shows up at the party and says she wants him back. Ricky kisses Adrian one last time as per her wish and she claims she is "free" from him, after which her new boyfriend Omar breaks up with her claiming that the kiss was "totally disrespectful". The next morning outside, Grace asks Jack about Adrian's theory that a kiss might help a couple get over each other which prompts Jack to kiss her. It ends with Ricky and Amy making out in front of his car with Lauren dolefully sitting in the back seat.
Amy and Ricky continue to live together and are thinking about getting married. Ashley broke up with her boyfriend Toby and has moved out and in with her mother. Ashley eventually moves to Italy for culinary school. Ben still continues to chase after Amy but in the meantime meets another girl that gets him into trouble. Adrian is living with her boyfriend Omar, who has proposed to get and Ben is dating Madison. Amy gets accepted to a college in New York and so does Ben, conveniently. Amy and Ricky elope together but at the last minute decided not to but when they come back home, they tell everyone they are married. Eventually, the let everyone know the truth and plan for a real wedding. Anne reveals that she is a lesbian, which takes a toll on Amy. George starts seeing Kathleen again once he realizes him and Anne will never be. The season ends with Amy calling off the engagement with Ricky. She leaves to go to school in New York and living in the same apartment with Ben, who is going to the same college to get Amy back and the apartment is provided by Leo. Amy leaves John with Ricky, so Ricky will take care of him throughout Amy's college career.
Shailene Woodley portrays Amy Juergens, daughter of George and Anne Juergens, mother of John, ex-girlfriend of Ricky and older sister of Ashley and Robert Juergens. Amy, now 19 years old, is a sensitive, intelligent, kind and loving girl in high school who plays the French horn and wants to someday attend Juilliard. (But later decides to be a teacher.) At summer band camp, prior to starting her freshman year, Amy has a one night stand with Ricky Underwood and becomes pregnant. After returning to school, Amy meets Ben Boykewich and they begin dating. After much indecision and disagreement, Amy and Ricky mutually decide to keep the baby. Upon the beginning of summer, Ben leaves Amy to visit Italy for his summer vacation. Following his return, they eventually break up. Amy later begins dating Jimmy, the son of Amy's mother's old high school boyfriend. Amy soon goes back to Ben after he confesses his love for her, despite him having sex with Adrian; however, when she learns that Adrian is pregnant, she avoids Ben due to the fact that he lied to her for weeks. She realizes that her attraction to Ricky is growing, and begins to date him. She desperately desires to sleep with him but is cautious about beginning a sexual relationship with him. She loves Ricky but she knows that creating a strong bond and relationship is the best way to keep him around. Adrian then points out to Amy some of the girls that Ricky slept with in order to hurt Amy. Amy, hurt by the fact that Adrian would do such a thing, refuses to throw a baby shower for Adrian and becomes cold toward her. This is the same attitude that Adrian had when she threw Amy a shower (Grace actually threw the shower). Adrian was so cruel that she had sex with her stepbrother during Amy's baby shower. Distraught over the death of Adrian and Ben's baby, Amy and Ricky abandon plans for a weekend getaway and decide to re-establish a physical relationship. Ricky proposes to her on his graduation night, and while Amy is happy to be engaged, she is in no hurry to marry. After discovering that her mother is gay, Amy tells Ricky that they should elope, to which Ricky happily agrees. Amy and Ricky seemingly elope in the Season 5 premiere; however, they run out of the chapel laughing without actually having gotten married. In the season finale, Amy graduates and when she and Ricky get home, she tells him that she has to call off the wedding and as they fight, she tells him she's calling it off because he isn't in love with her, though he loves her. Amy then makes the decision to pursue a college education while Ricky takes custody of their son.
Daren Kagasoff portrays Richard "Ricky" Underwood, now 20 years old with a troubled past and emotional issues, resulting in promiscuity and a reputation as the school's "bad boy". He is the son of Bob Underwood, a domestic abuser, child molester, and drug addict, and a drug addict mother, Nora (played by Anne Ramsay), who lived on the streets before being sent to jail for a short time before being released with help from Adrian's father. Ricky lived with his foster parents, Margaret and Dr. Shakur, but moved out to an apartment above the butcher shop. Ricky later decided that he wants to have a more serious relationship with Adrian and tells her he does not want her sleeping with other guys. He, on the other hand, wants to sleep with other girls while still being in a relationship with Adrian. They break up after Adrian has sex with Ben, after finding out that Ricky and Amy kissed. Ashley kisses him, showing her feelings for him. Ricky does not seem to return these feelings, even though he flirts with her. Ashley tries to sleep with him, but Ricky has feelings for Amy so he refuses her. Ricky goes to New York to visit Amy and they kiss again. They have a long discussion and Amy tells Ricky that if he ever wants to be with her again he has to stop sleeping around. Ricky promises to try. Ricky and Amy begin to date after she returns from music camp. Their relationship becomes serious and they consider moving in together. Ricky has a constant battle with Amy over when she plans to have sex with him, and she insists that he be tested for STDs before considering having sex with him. Even while they are dating the custody agreement they have remains the same but, as they are often at each other's places, the rules bend a little. Amy has a lot of trouble reconciling his past promiscuity with his declarations of love. He is being encouraged to consider attending college by both Ben's father and the high school counselor, but is unsure how college fits into his life with Amy and John. He proposed to Amy on the night of his high school graduation, but is then confused when Amy doesn't seem to be in a hurry to get married. After many arguments and diagreements, Ricky and Amy elope in the season 5 premiere, although it is revealed 2 episodes later that they did not finish the wedding ceremony.In the season finale, they go to Amy's graduation and then go home, where Amy and Ricky fight because Amy wants to call off the wedding. He gets angry but she says that he's not in love with her and he says he loves her and then admits that he's not in love with her. They both then agree that Ricky will keep John and they will see how it all goes. When Amy leaves, the last scene is Ricky telling John a story, saying, "And she lives happily ever after... And so will we."
Megan Park portrays Grace Kathleen Bowman, a perky 19-year-old now. Grace is Grant High's head cheerleader and is a devoted Christian. Grace's father is Marshall Bowman, a doctor whose career she hopes to emulate. Her mother is Kathleen Bowman, George Juergens' ex-wife. She has an adopted brother, Tom, who has Down syndrome. Grace has a loving, respectful, and open relationship with her family, but has grown from following their rules and advice to making her own decisions about matters such as boys and sex. Grace and Jack resume their rocky relationship and have sex for the first time. After having sex, Grace learns of her father's death in a plane crash and feels guilty that the crash happened while she was having sex with Jack, and wonders if, in some way, her father's death was punishment for having sex outside of marriage. She takes a while to recover from this idea and then tries to compensate for her feelings by pledging to wait to have sex again until marriage, even organizing a group of kids to embrace abstinence. She is somewhat interested in Ben, who shows up on her doorstep occasionally, usually when he's worried about Amy and then, later, Adrian. However, after Ben begins to take responsibility for Adrian's pregnancy, she then begins to date Grant. The two of them are interested in taking their relationship to the "next level," but Grace's mother extracts a promise from Grant that he would not have sex with Grace at med camp, much to Grace's chagrin. But, after they decide to have sex, Grant wants Grace to have an STD test to make sure she doesn't have anything. He goes on to explain that Grace has been with Jack after Jack had oral sex with Adrian. Adrian has been with Ricky and both Ricky and Adrian have been around with a bunch of other people. Grace then tells him he should get tested also but, he tells her the truth (about him and his ex-girlfriend losing their virginity to each other) then Jack walks in and tells Grace that it would not be a bad idea to get tested because he has come into contact with an STD (that was treatable) before they had sex. This scares Grace who already does not want to do the test and she tells Grant that they should not have sex anymore. Grant then skips school the next day and goes to look for her and tells her that if she is not ready to have sex then they can wait until she is because he loves her (he wanted to tell her that he loved her before they did anything so that she would really see that he was in love with her). Eventually, they consummate their relationship. Later, Grace is insistent about meeting Grant's ex-girlfriend, Angie, and is taken aback when she sees that Angie is significantly overweight. Later they breakup after Grace cheats on him with a college student she met while in Africa, Daniel. She then begins a relationship with Daniel, who is far more mature and becomes impatient with Grace's immaturity. At the graduation party, Daniel runs into an ex-girlfriend, Raven, (played by Christian Serratos) and decides to leave. Raven hooks up with Jack during the party, but the next morning, Jack and Grace kiss and Grace realizes that she still has feelings for him. Raven takes a picture of the kiss and sends it to Daniel, who breaks up with Grace. Grace decides to skip med school camp for the coming summer because she is tired of it and wants to avoid Grant.
Francia Raisa portrays Adrian Lee, a now 20-year-old majorette with a reputation for being promiscuous because she enjoys casual sex. Adrian's mother is a flight attendant who is often away from home because of her job. Adrian's father was absent from Adrian's childhood, but is now making an effort to reconnect with her. Her broken background has made Adrian emotional, hidden under her tough exterior. She wants to feel loved, and so she continues her on-off casual relationship with Ricky, though he constantly pursues other girls. At first Adrian is extremely jealous of Amy and Grace. She is jealous of Amy because Amy had Ricky's baby and she knows that they will always be connected. Adrian is also jealous of Grace because Ricky wants to sleep with her but he later changes his mind. Adrian then angrily throws Amy a baby shower although Grace was the one who threw the shower while Adrian had sex with her stepbrother in the other room. Adrian later decides that she wants a more serious relationship with Ricky and tells him that she loves him. They decide that they will work at being in a relationship and although Adrian agrees to stop having sex with other boys, Ricky says he still wants to have sex with other girls. Amy and Adrian then get into an argument about Adrian holding John and Adrian realizes that Ricky has sided with Amy about her holding John. Adrian then decides to become friends with Amy and Amy finally lets Adrian hold John. Adrian later has sex with Ben in an attempt at revenge after finding out that Ricky and Amy kissed. Adrian later discovers that she's pregnant with Ben's baby. At first she decides to have an abortion, having even spoke with a counselor at an abortion clinic. Her dad was not supportive of her choice with terminating the pregnancy. Adrian soon decides not to go through with an abortion and plans on keeping the baby instead. Ben has given Adrian an expensive($50,000) "friendship ring", which they have agreed is just a friendship ring, unless they both agree later on that it means something else. As Adrian pregnancy goes along they both start to realize that they have feelings for each other that goes beyond just caring for each other because they are going to have a baby together. but both of them have falling in love with each other unaware of it while it was happening. Ben then decides to make the friendship ring an engagement ring and surprises Adrian with the proposal. They subsequently marry, and moved in together in a condo. Both she and Ben are devastated when their baby, whom they were planning to name Mercy, is born as a stillborn. Adrian tries to keep Ben in the marriage by having another baby. He was willing to do so, but Adrian decides she loves Ricky. The two are separated and are getting a divorce. Meanwhile, Adrian is introduced to a friend of Daniel's, Dante'. She feels as if they get along well, but he leaves the country for a semester abroad, and Adrian begins going out with Dante's brother, Omar. At the graduation party, Adrian wants one last kiss from Ricky to see if the spark is still there. With Amy's ok, Ricky kisses her, and Adrian is relieved to discover that she no longer is obsessed with Ricky. However, Omar is offended at her kissing Ricky and leaves the party without her. Adrian, upset, ends up sleeping with Henry that evening, and they are discovered the next morning by a shocked Alice. She then completes summer school and has shown signs of still being in love with Ricky
Ken Baumann portrays Benjamin "Ben" Boykewich 19-year old-son of Leo Boykewich, is Amy's high school boyfriend and first love. He meets Amy after his best friend Alice points her out one day at school. Ben is instantly taken with her, and decides to ask her to a school fund raiser. They begin dating shortly afterwards. He initially wants to confront Amy about her alleged relationship with Ricky, but then decides against it after his guidance counselor points out that it's none of his business. His father Leo was the first person to suspect Amy's pregnancy due to her throwing up on Ben while on a date. He initially dismissed the idea, but realizes that it may be a possibility. This causes him to propose to Amy so that way he can help financially support the baby, and because he genuinely loves her. Amy is flattered by his actions, but explains that she is unsure of what to do. When she considers getting an abortion, Ben convinces her not to because he knows that she has other options. He experiences a lot of hardship during Amy's pregnancy; particularly when he is brutally beaten up by a fellow student, but remains to be a loving and supportive boyfriend. In the season one episode "The Secret Wedding of the American Teenager", Ben and Amy get married using fake ID's after her mother says that Amy will have to get a job if she wants to keep the baby. Later on the series, Ben gets Adrian pregnant, after he lost his virginity with her in his car in front of Amy's house. The couple decide to keep the baby. He then tells Amy and they break up. By the third season's mid-season finale, it is shown that Ben and Adrian have some romantic feelings for one's another. In the autumn premiere, Ben and Adrian find out they're having a baby girl, which is what Ben was hoping for. His father bought a condo for the two of them, and they later get married. Their daughter, Mercy, was stillborn which left Adrian and Ben devastated. He later decides he wants out of the marriage due to Adrian's attitude. He admits it harshly to Adrian after she gave away their baby's things. After his outbursts to Adrian he then gets drunk and humiliates himself in front of his father. But he later begins to recant his decision after having time to vent his frustration. But, later Adrian decides she also does not want to remain married, and asks him to leave. He leaves brokenhearted and then later asks Adrian to remain his friend. He also allows Adrian to keep the condo with the approval of his father and continues to keep his word of being her friend to her after she is embarrassed at the graduation party. He also meets a new girl named Dylan, who seems be interested in him. Alice tells Ben that Henry slept with Adrian at the graduation party, which enrages him and prompts him to tell a stunned and contrite Henry that he is no longer welcome at his home. Dylan and her friends visit Ben and ask if he minds if they smoke some pot. Ben is taken aback, but doesn't want to appear judgmental, so he allows them to smoke in his room. They are discovered by Ben's and Dylan's parents, and Ben lies to protect Dylan and tells them that he was given the pot at the party the night before. Ben and Dylan convince their parents that they should go out together. In the school hallway, Ben tells Amy that he still loves her, but Dylan's friend Wendy over hears and tells Dylan. Dylan still wants to go out with Ben, but her parents don't want her to because they think he's a bad influence.
India Eisley plays Ashley Juergens, Amy's 18-year-old sister. Ashley is sarcastic, always thinks straight, dresses in mainly black, and cares little about what others think of her. She is the first member of the Juergens family to learn of Amy's pregnancy and the one who convinces Amy to keep the baby. When George buys his own home next door, Ashley goes with him. She and George eventually move back into the house with Amy and Anne to raise the children, as they see it as the best option. Upon seeing her sister go through childbirth, Ashley vows to delay having sex. During her freshman year of high school, Ashley quickly befriends a gay boy, Griffin, who becomes her only friend. She falls in love with Ricky, and claims that they could be together if they wanted to but Ricky does not agree. They kiss, and Ricky regrets that kiss. Ashley then says she wants to have sex with Ricky to get it over with because she says that she wants to see what sex is like. Now Ashley doesn't want to be around Ricky or Amy. She has completely shut out everybody but her dad. She has stopped going to school and started home-schooling herself so she will not have to be around people that annoy her. As part of her home schooling she has a "study buddy", Toby. Overtime, she seems to be developing a crush on him and in the episode "Loose Lips" they talk about sex with Amy and later they contemplate if they will be friends or not. "Maybe even more that friends" Toby comments after Ashley says they might be friends. Ashley and Toby take the GED together and, to everyone's surprise, they pass, thus completing high school. With high school behind them, they want to take a cross-country road trip together, much to George and Anne's dismay, but they agreed to it after seeing Ashley could learn a lot hands on about life. She and Toby end up in Florida, broke, living with his grandmother and doing odd jobs. Ashley returns home the day after Ricky's graduation, and announces that she has been accepted to college in Florida. She is a bit taken aback to discover that George has rented her room to Nora.
Greg Finley II portrays Jack Pappas, an now 20 on the football team. Jack is the stepson of a minister. The summer before his sophomore year, Jack began a relationship with Grace, partially in an effort to keep her well-to-do family at his stepfather's church. He quickly falls for Grace and after their first date asks her for a closed, committed relationship. However, Jack is distraught when Grace informs him she wants to wait until after marriage and medical school for sex. Fretful, Jack has oral sex with Adrian for which Grace breaks up with him. Jack regrets the end of their relationship and projected serious efforts into trying to win Grace back. However, Grace began to date Ricky instead. Unsure of how he feels about sex and waiting until marriage, Jack tries to keep his mind off it by doing good deeds. He dates Madison, but makes the mistake of telling Madison's father that they are engaging in oral sex, which causes Madison's father to stop Jack and Madison from seeing each other all summer. Jack knows he is still not over Grace even though she is with Grant. He constantly attempts to stop Grace from having sex with Grant, despite the fact that he is with Madison. He and Madison have one sexual encounter, but afterwards decide that sex is not right for them at this time. They break up, and Jack turns his attention back to Grace. At graduation, Jack is chosen to give the invocation/prayer, which Grace helps him write. Even though he hooks up with Daniel's ex-girlfriend at the graduation party, he finds Grace the next morning, and they share a kiss, which confuses Grace. In the season 5 mid season finale Jack was beat up by a pimp and was in critical condition.
Molly Ringwald portrays Anne Juergens, the mother of Amy, Ashley, and Robert Juergens, and the wife of George Juergens. After discovering George was cheating on her with Adrian's mother, Cindy Lee, Anne separated from him and filed for divorce. Due to her impending divorce, Anne took a job in an architectural office and began dating her boss, architect David Johnson; she later becomes engaged. In the premiere of the second season, it is revealed that she is pregnant. Though she believes it is her boyfriend's, due to her husband's vasectomy, it is revealed that he lied about having the surgery. Later in the season Anne breaks off her engagement with David and returns to be with her family. She was about to remarry George when she finds papers saying he does not want to remarry her and discovers he cheated but only when they were divorced. Living away from home near her mother, she begins seeing her old high school sweetheart again. They realize they are just friends, though, and Anne finds herself drawn to George again. They are discovered by an amused Amy after a romantic encounter at home, but Anne and George find themselves on opposite sides after Ricky proposes to Amy. Anne realizes that Amy is happy, and George realizes that she is not. After a trip to Europe, Anne realizes she is gay, saying that when she is with another woman she feels "one" with her.
Mark Derwin portrays George Juergens, the father of Amy, Ashley, and Robert Juergens, and the husband of Anne Juergens. He owns a furniture store and was previously married to Kathleen Bowman, Grace's mother, before marrying Anne. He also had a brief affair with Adrian's mother, Cindy Lee, which led to Anne filing for divorce. George regrets his affair, realizes he is in love with Anne, and desires to reunite his family. When he is about to remarry his ex-wife Anne, she finds papers stating that he does not want to be remarried. She figures out he cheated again and they decide to split without causing too much harm to the family. After making a pass at Nora and discovering that she is a lesbian, he invites her to move into the house with him as a roommate. Much to everyone's surprise, Nora accepts. George comes short as a responsible father figure who does not have adequate control over his daughters and did not always take sound decisions when issues came up.
Steve Schirripa portrays Leo Boykewich, Ben's widowed father. Known locally as "The Sausage King", he is wealthy and owns a butcher shop. He recently married a woman named Betty, a sweet but slightly ditzy former prostitute. He and Ben have always had a close relationship, but the relationship has been tested because he doesn't approve of Ben's latest choices with regards to Adrian. Distraught over the fact his son impregnated a girl and plans to marry her despite the fact they are not in love, he goes and sees a therapist. He figures out he is not over his first love, Ben's mom, and realizes that he needs to move on and give Betty the same opportunity to make a place in his life that Ben's mother had. He is saddened at the death of Ben and Adrian's baby, and takes it upon himself to tell Ben's friends about the death. Later, Betty realizes that Leo is not happy in their marriage. She wants to separate and finally attend college, and he agrees, much to his relief. With Ben's urging, he then realizes that he has been in love with his secretary of 20 years, and begins to court her.
Secret Life first aired on ABC Family on July 1, 2008.Season 1 began with 11 episodes broadcast from July 1, 2008 to September 9, 2008. After a hiatus, 12 first-season episodes aired January 5, 2009 through March 23, 2009, despite being marketed as season 2, for a total of 23 episodes. The first season was aired on Canadian broadcaster City starting on September 3, 2008. In early 2009, CityTV removed Secret Life from its schedule. Therefore, MuchMusic started to air the first season in Canada on November 30, 2009, followed by the second season on December 7, 2009.
Following the success of its first season, ABC Family announced on January 31, 2009, plans to renew Secret Life. The official press release was released on February 9 and was added to ABC Family's line up on April 7, 2009. The show was renewed for a 24-episode second season, which began airing on June 22, 2009.Season 2 began with 12 episodes broadcast starting June 22, 2009 through September 7, 2009. After a four-month hiatus, the second half of the season returned on January 4, 2010, and concluded on March 22, 2010.
Following their record-breaking, mid-season returns, Make It or Break It, and Secret Life were both picked up for an additional season. The third season premiere of Secret Life was aired on June 7, 2010, at 8 pm. On January 10, 2011, it was reported that Secret Life was picked up for a fourth season to be shown in Summer 2011 and season three would resume on March 28, 2011 after an extended season break. The second half of the fourth season is set to air on March 26, 2012.
On February 2, 2012, it was announced ABC Family renewed The Secret Life of the American Teenager for a fifth and final season.
Secret Life received mixed reviews at the time of its debut. It currently has a score of 47 out of 100 from review aggregator Metacritic. The New York Post praised the series 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..." However, most mainstream critics haven't embraced the show, indicating it as a TV-series version of an after school special, "filled with didactic messages and a lotta wooden acting," in the words of Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly.The New York Times claimed that "Secret Life" must surely be the collective effort of an anti-pregnancy cabal. [...] ABC Family means well but could not have done worse. "Secret Life" doesn’t take the fun out of teenage pregnancy, it takes the fun out of television" and calls the show a "Prime-Time Cautionary Tale".Variety Magazine reports that "ABC Family's latest original drama wants to be a slow-motion version of "Juno" but settles for being an obvious, stereotype-laden teen soap [...] based on first impressions, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" should probably stay a secret." ReporterMag's Andrew Rees says, "The show...might be the worst scripted drama on television. Suffering from gag-worthy dialog, horrific plot twists, terrible acting, and characters who not even the best of 3-D glasses could give depth to, it’s a wonder how this show stays on the air."
Brenda Hampton does not mind the poor reviews, saying, "I'd rather get good ratings and bad reviews than bad ratings and good reviews.". Despite its lackluster critical reviews,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- to 49-year-old demographic. Secret Life also scored high in the female demographic, registering a 6.5/24 among female teenagers and a 3.1/11 among 12- to 34-year-old females.
Secret Life's mid-season finale episode of season one defeated the first hour of the much-publicized series premiere of 90210 on The CW in viewers 12–34 and females 12–34, beating 90210 in total viewers and all their key demographics, and bringing in some of the best ratings of the season for Secret Life. The season one finale brought in 4.50 million viewers and was the highest rated telecast on March 23, 2009 in viewers aged 12–34 and the number one scripted telecast that night. The episode also beat 90210, which had 2.20 million viewers, more than half the usual number.
On Monday, June 22, 2009, Secret Life opened its second season with the largest audience so far, posting a series high in total viewers with 4.68 million viewers, and second-best numbers ever in adults 18–34 with 1.4 million viewers, behind season one's mid-season finale, adults 18–49 with 2.1 million viewers and viewers 12–34 with 2.9 million viewers. In June 2009, Secret Life ranked as cable’s number one scripted telecast in females 12–34, and the number one scripted series telecast in viewers 12–34 and female teens. Additionally, Secret Life stood as ad-supported cable’s number one telecast this month in female teens. The season debut became cable’s number one scripted series premiere of the 2008/2009 season to date in women 18–34, women 18–49, and viewers 12–34, and the number one scripted original premiere of summer 2009 in adults 18–34.
Secret Life’s second season debut stands as cable’s number one scripted original series season premiere of summer 2009 in adults ages 18–34 and across core female 18–34, 18–49 and 12–34 demos, ahead of such high profile series as USA’s Royal Pains and Burn Notice, and TNT’s The Closer. Some critics praised the new developments of the show's second season, saying they could be "interesting material to build on." Jean Bently of EW Popwatch says that now that the whole "teen going through a pregnancy" plot has played out and the "frustrated young mother" thing is going on, we have room to explore some other topics. She remained hopeful that the writers will not just turn these new problems into issues of the week, instead allowing time for the characters to grieve Marshall's death, deal with Ann's accidental pregnancy, and explore the more emotionally complex aspects of teenage sex.
With more than 4.55 million people watching the season two mid-season premiere, the episode became ABC Family’s most-watched telecast ever in the key 12–34 and teen demos. The episode stands as the series’ second-most-watched episode in viewers and is TV’s number one telecast of the season in female teens, cable’s number one telecast in females 12–34, and cable’s number one scripted telecast in viewers 12–34. The season two mid-season premiere remains cable’s number one scripted premiere of the 2009/10 season. It improved nearly one million total viewers over its season two mid-season finale, and was number one in all target demos for the hour.
On Monday, June 7, 2010, Secret Life opened its third season as the number one summer premiere for the 2010 summer season. It drew 1.3 million women 18–49 viewers, 2.3 million viewers 12–34, 1.8 million female 12–34 viewers, and 1.0 million teen viewers, topping high profiles premieres of Burn Notice, Royal Pains, and Pawn Stars. Additionally, Monday’s "Secret Life" ranks as summer’s number one scripted premiere on cable with 1.2 million viewers adults 18–34. It improved over its season 2 finale, growing by 20% in adults 18–34, by 21% in adults 18–49, and by 10% in viewers 12–34.
Regarding The Secret Life's advertising, Laura Caraccioli-Davis, executive vice president of the media buyer Starcom, says, "Nielsen numbers will do the talking in the advertising community, which has a deep respect for success."
U.S. Nielsen ratings
The following is a table with the average estimated amount of viewers per episode, each season of The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family.
Throughout its four seasons, Secret Life has been nominated for several Teen Choice Awards, and won a Gracie Allen Award. It won a Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer TV Show during its premiere season. In 2009, it was nominated for three Teen Choice Awards, including Choice TV Show Drama, Choice TV Breakout Show, and Choice Summer TV. Kenny Baumann was nominated for Choice TV Actor Drama and Choice Summer TV Star: Male, Shailene Woodley was nominated for Choice TV Actress Drama and Choice Summer TV Star: Female, Daren Kagasoff was nominated for Choice TV Breakout Star: Male and won Choice Summer TV Star Male, and Molly Ringwald and Mark Derwin were nominated for Choice TV Parental Unit. A Gracie Allen Award was awarded to the show for Outstanding Drama in 2009. In 2010, the show was nominated as a Favorite TV Obsession at the 2010 People's Choice Awards; Shailene Woodley won a 2010 Gracie Award for Outstanding Female Rising Star in a Drama Series; the show was nominated as the Choice Summer TV show at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards; Ken Baumann and Daren Kagasoff were nominated as the Choice Male Summer TV Star; and Shailene Woodley was also nominated as the Choice Female Summer TV Star.
Each Secret Life season is released on DVD in separate volumes. Season one, confusingly, is sold as season one and season two. Season two is sold as volume three and volume four, and similarly for the later seasons. The DVD releases include commentary by cast and crew members on selected episodes, deleted scenes, interviews with the cast, and behind-the-scenes featurettes. The season two, volume two DVD includes a preview of Ashley Juergen's Secret Diary, a novella released on June 15, 2010.
On June 15, 2010, The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens was published. Written by Kelly and Courtney Turk, whose previous credits include episodes of 7th Heaven and NCIS, it documents the thoughts of the character Ashley Juergens in the events chronicling the first and part of the second season. It also includes new characters that were not shown on Secret Life. "We watched the episodes together and then talked briefly about ideas we each had and what we thought Ashley would have to say about whatever the storyline was. Then we separated and exchanged our chapters," Courtney stated while talking about the difference between writing a book and writing for television.
The series theme, sung by Molly Ringwald, is an upbeat version of Cole Porter's "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)." Other noteworthy music featured in the installments includes:
Both the first and last episodes of the first season feature the song "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne. It was also featured in the second season episode 22. A piano version of the song was played during mid-4th season finale.
In the fifteenth episode of the second season, Jack plays "She Don't Wanna Man" by Asher Roth while he and Madison dance.
At the Mother-Daughter Dance (Season 2, Episode 19), Love Story by Taylor Swift is played in the background while Amy, her mother, and Ashley sit on the bleachers.
In the fourth episode of the third season, when Adrian sits sadly on the stairs in front of her house, Tom plays "You Are So Beautiful" performed by Joe Cocker on his cell phone before they dance. (Season 3, episode 4).
The song "Kids" by MGMT appears in the fifth episode of the third season when a slide show of Amy lost in New York is played.
Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are" plays in the final moments of the first half of the third season finale, including during Ben and Adrian's wedding.
Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" plays after Ben and Adrian find out the baby is dead, and the montage is played to close the season.
"Daughters" by John Mayer was featured in the season's first episode during Amy's visit to the clinic.
In the fifth episode of the fourth season, "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele is played in the beginning during Adrian's walk and at the end of the episode when she is sitting in the empty nursery after punching numerous holes in the wall.
In the thirteen episode of the fourth season "S&M" by Rihanna, "Memories" by David Guetta feat. Kid Cudi and "Til ya make it" by "Jamie Lynn Noon" are played at the end of the episode during the dance party.
At the beginning of first episode of fifth season, when Amy and Ricky went from chapel, is played Bruno Mars' song "Marry You".