Once upon a time, people paid me to write. Not just any people either. The Center for American Progress. Getting my first check from CAP was a proud moment. Unfortunately, the project didn't quite work. The project, a youth issues blog called Pushback, never took off. There were a lot of writers and I think "youth issues" was just a bit too broad. Ten people blogging about whatever the Hell they want was not a good recipe for success.
Two of the things I always wanted to write about were Massachusetts and the media. Both combined into a neat little package when Time published a hideously irresponsible article about a pregnancy pact between teenage girls in the sleepy fishing village of Gloucester (correctly pronounced Gloss-tah). So, hey, two posts from back in the day by me about the pregnancy pact. One. Two. Now you know my thoughts on this ridiculousness.
Imagine my delight when this pregnancy pact story got wrapped up in the third thing I like to write about: Lifetime movies.
So, The Pregnancy Pact. The story of how some girls decided to get pregnant even though there is no evidence that any agreement was made.
The film opens with a disclaimer saying that the movie is a fictionalized account of the story. This is bullshit. The movie has news footage of actual Gloucester residents (including the mayor) giving actual interviews. Then, at the end of the movie, a video blogger (seriously) says they were all wrong and the debunked myths were all true. Not very responsible, Lifetime.
I was wondering how Thora Birch got to be the lead in this movie. She can't play a kid anymore (Hocus Pocus in the house!) and she can't play a moody teenager. So, she can play a video blogger for Teen Up! (dot net) in New York City. Yes, somehow this vlogger has her own office and employees in New York City. And she has a budget where she can go to Gloucester on a whim and stay there for two weeks.
Vloggers are awful.
Our vlogger, Sidney, actually has a past in Gloucester. She lived there for two years and got knocked up and had that thing scripped out. She's interested in why none of the 18 pregnant teenagers in Gloucester are getting schma-schmortions.
Because these are good Catholics in Gloucester, you New York City heathen!
The girl we spend most of our time focusing on is Sara Dougan. She is 15 and is in love with her boyfriend, the star pitcher at Gloucester High. Sorry casting dudes, but Sara Dougan is not quite attractive enough to be dating a star athlete a year older than her. Of course, star athlete needs to get it where he can, so he knocks up Sara. Sara is pleased with this development because this means her boyfriend will stay in Gloucester and she already made an agreement with her pregnant friends to get knocked up. Not so much an agreement really as a - wait for it - PACT.
And, el oh el, Sara's mom, played by Lifetime staple Nancy Travis, is in charge of some family values committee that has fought to keep condoms out of the schools. How embarrassing!
So there all these pregnant chicks and Sidney interviews all of them. One of them looks enough like Mena Suvari to be legitimately unnerving whenever she's in the same frame as Thora Birch. Sidney is all like, what's the deal, you guys? Pregnancy is hard? You still have a choice! And the girls are all, like, "Whatever, Thora Birch."
Gloucester's principal then gives an interview to Time's Kathleen Kingsbury and claims there's a pregnancy pact. And now the national media is on the case! Thankfully, Sidney is young and hip and is TEENING UP (dot net) and gets the inside scoop from the pregnant hos. THERE IS A PACT.
Eventually Sara's baby daddy walks in on a confidential interview between Sara and Sidney and he freaks out because he got tricked into impregnating someone. Hey, dude, there was no trick. You are 16 and should know what happens when you skeet into fertile soil. Dumbass.
And, yes, this is a pattern in the movie. None of the pregnancies are any of the boys' faults. They were all tricked by devious ladies!
Sara's boyfriend bails because she lied about the pact and he gets a new girlfriend. Sara responds to this by getting toe up wasted at some high school kegger. She gets alcohol poisoning and needs a trip to the emergency room to make sure her fetus doesn't have flippers now. All the while everyone is falling over themselves talking about how Sara is such a good kid. Well, the evidence points to the contrary. Fifteen-year-olds who get pregnant and get alcohol poisoning are the very definition of bad kids. I don't see what one can do as a 15-year-old that could be worse besides mass murder. Basically, here's the bad kid order:
T1. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
3. Sara from The Pregnancy Pact.
With Sara getting out of the hospital, Sidney decides that she has had enough teening up (dot net) and gets ready to book it out of Dodge. But first she meets with her ex-boyfriend. The one who knocked her up. They haven't spoken since the 'bortion because he wanted her to keep it and she ended up moving away.
In what I would describe as the most reprehensible scene in Lifetime history, Sidney admits that she didn't really have an abortion but that she gave the child up for adoption and listed the father as "unknown" so this dude couldn't try and get custody. Ho-lee shit. This guy wanted the kid. Why not give him the kid!? And, what?
But it gets worse! The ex-boyfriend looks at Sidney and declares her a better person than he thought because only bad people get abortions.
THE MOTHERFUCKING END. SHIT JUST GOT REAL.
Every point of awesomeness is because TEEN UP! (dot net) is going to be an ongoing joke in my life. I might have given this more but that revelation at the end and the implications of it...I can't support this. Maybe Lifetime deserves a boycott or something?
HEY! IT'S THAT GUY!: 8
Poor Thora Birch needs a new agent. And nice to see Lifetime regulars Nancy Travis and Camryn Manheim get in on the action. I would have liked it if there was just one more person in this. Like, someone you'd be surprised to see on Lifetime. The only surprise with Thora Birch is that she still exists.
So, I was going to give this a six, but, Thora Birch. Did you know that Now and Then is one of the greatest movies ever made? So, two point bonus.
MORAL PANIC WITH DISGUSTINGLY RETRO ATTITUDES TOWARDS CHOICE.
If you read that totally out of context, you'd still think it was a Lifetime movie, right?
I'm taking away a point because the beginning of the movie pointed out that teen pregnancy had been dropping since World War II but had started to plateau and even rise a bit. This is true. But now I want an apology on behalf of Fifteen and Pregnant fans everywhere who were fed a bunch of bullshit about the "epidemic" of teen pregnancy. They lied!
GRAND TOTAL: 22
Middle of the road. It would have been so much better if Sara died of alcohol poisoning instead of focusing on a decade old adoption/abortion record. I hate it when Lifetime tries to play it coy by not murdering off every character who sips alcohol before they're 21.