‘Teen Mom’: Producers Can’t Intervene When Things Get Heated

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If reality television is known for one thing, it’s high drama. People who watch reality programs like The Real Housewives franchise or Keeping Up with the Kardashians expect to see insane fights and conflict between the people on the show. However, this level of drama can also leave viewers concerned about the stars of these TV shows, and fans often end up with intense feelings about reality TV personalities.

Teen Mom is one of the shows that showcases high drama and polarizing personalities. Sometimes fans fall in love with the moms, like Maci Bookout McKinney, while other women on the show are harshly criticized for their poor choices, like Jenelle Evans. But when there’s major drama or poor behavior on set, what happens behind the scenes? What responsibilities do the producers of Teen Mom have?

(L-R) Maci Bookout, Bristol Palin and Farrah Abraham smiling in front of a black backdrop
(L-R) Maci Bookout, Bristol Palin and Farrah Abraham | Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Teen Mom‘s drama

Teen Mom is a spin off from another MTV reality program, 16 and Pregnant. This spin off follows the girls from 16 and Pregnant into their adulthood and follows their experiences as young parents. However, it has since expanded to include young women who were not on the initial 16 and Pregnant show. Because the stars of the show are so young and often in very volatile relationships and life situations, there are many times on the show when tempers may rise, or when the eponymous teen moms may make poor decisions.

There have been many intense moments on Teen Mom, for various reasons. The young women on the show have even had different beefs with each other over the course of the series. Additionally, the relationships that they get into are often unhealthy, and the family situations that the stars come from can be unstable. There are frequent custody battles, either between the teen moms and family members or between the parents of the children. With all of this background, it’s no wonder that Teen Mom has some infamous moments of drama, like the fight between Kailyn and Briana.

Growing pains of parenting

The moms on Teen Mom are also very young and have little life experience or stability that would help them as parents. Some of the moms are able to adapt to their new situation, or they might get help from friends and family. Others, however, seem to have a difficult time raising their children in a healthy environment. Drugs frequently impact the moms’ parenting ability, as well as toxic and sometimes violent relationships between the parents. One shocking incident was when Amber Portwood physically attacked her then-partner, Gary Shirley, with their infant child present in the room. Amber Portwood was even arrested for felony drug possession, on top of charges for domestic violence.

Many of these poor choices come from a difficult background. Amber Portwood, for instance, especially has had a difficult childhood and lives with mental illness and drug addiction. However, other stars simply make bafflingly poor choices. Farrah Abraham often comes under fire for how she raises her daughter Sophia. Many have said that Abraham treats Sophia more like she’s part of a brand than as a daughter.

The producers’ responsibilities

Despite all this, Teen Mom producers are actually instructed not to get involved in any heated moments that happen on the show. According to The Things, they do have to report any illegal activity, and will call the police or CPS if necessary. However, confronting people on the show is warned against. The producers have no legal power over the stars. Additionally, the ‘heated moments’ are often violent, and can involve deadly weapons. It’s safer for everyone if the producers don’t get involved, and simply report what has happened.

Overall, it’s clear why Teen Mom is such a controversial show. The young women on the show can be volatile and irresponsible, with few positive influences in their lives. Perhaps MTV is being exploitative by showcasing their lives in this detailed manner and making such a large profit off of them — not that the moms don’t get paid. Regardless, the show was and still is a hit, and is still continuing alongside its many spin-offs.