Television

Briefly Noted: Secret Lives, Fictional Sex

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ABC Family's hit Monday night series The Secret Life of an American Teenager offers salacious plots and characters not normally associated with Disney, the network's corporate owner. The show's protagonist is Amy Juergens, a 15-year-old girl knocked up during a single wild night at band camp. Since this is ABC Family, she keeps the baby after considering adoption and abortion.

Secret Life promises an inside look at how the younger generation lives. Following the conventions of a genre that pre-dates ancient Rome, it highlights adolescent sexual activity (there's much bed hopping from other characters) and angst over carnal desires both fulfilled and frustrated. But with fewer and fewer high schoolers having intercourse—between 1991 and 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proportion of 12th-graders reporting they had ever had sex dropped from 54 percent to 47 percent—Secret Life is less a description of reality than an anxiety-inducing fantasy for curious kids and worried parents alike.