Deviance is going against social norms and what society believes to be socially accepted. It is perceived to be bad and it is often looked at as something in disapproval to society. Deviance is a trait, belief, or behavior and they all vary across and within societies. Depending on the deviance it can be either negative or positive; it all has to do with the situation. The media plays a vital role in displaying deviance across different platforms, whether it is through commercials, advertisements, news, music, or television shows. Deviance is such a big part of the media because it brings about interesting and captivating content.
The show that I will be analyzing will be The Secret Life of The American Teenager, an American television series that was aired on the ABC Family television network. The series was a great hit with five seasons and over a hundred episodes. The show reflects deviance in several different ways, primarily with the main character Amy Juergens becoming pregnant at fifteen years old. Her reputation is ruined after she gets pregnant because she was known as the “good girl” who had plans of attending Julliard. The next character is, Ricky who is seventeen years old and has a one nightstand with Amy and ends up getting her pregnant, hence he is the father of the baby. Ricky has infidelity issues and cannot be trusted because he wants to have sex with whomever he wants. Adrian Lee is one of the girls he has sex with, Adrian is eighteen years old and enjoys casual sex along with displaying she is promiscuous. Grace Bowman is a seventeen-year-old cheerleader who is also a devoted Christian and takes a vow of abstinence with her gay best friend. However, she ends up loosing her virginity to Jack, her on and off football player boyfriend. Lastly, Anne and George Juergens are Amy’s mom and dad who both commit adultery because George cheats with Adrian’s mother and Anne with her coworker.
The series follows the life of these characters and reveals how their deviance leads to consequences. The media has a huge impact on the deviant behavior because it shows us all things we are not normally used to seeing in society. The media tends to highlight things that are deviant because it brings about good content for the viewers and ratings. If deviant behavior was not presented in the media, then the content would not be interesting to watch and television would be boring. People like to watch things that are exciting and different because it gives them a distraction from their regular life. However, there is a bigger purpose of showing deviance through the media. For starters, the media is able to reach millions of people because of the different types of platforms the media has. The media displays deviance because it is a way for society to learn about norms, social values, human behavior and most importantly how deviance interjects and plays apart of society. Deviance proves that society has flaws, cultural norms are broken, and people do things that are not socially acceptable. The media is able to reinforce deviance through television and other platforms in order to display the way in which society is changing. The Secret Life of The American Teenager contains enough deviance to make it interesting and keep viewers engaged and captivated by what is going on. Amy’s teen pregnancy is deviant in itself because one she is a teenager, two she has a one nightstand, she is not married, and she is raising a baby as a single mom. She breaks all social norms and is looked down upon because she did not do things the “right” way. As a result of her deviance, she struggles being a student, a teen mother, and dealing with her love life after having a baby. Ricky’s deviance of infidelity shows that he is not trustworthy and struggles to be a responsible dad because of his reckless choices.
The result of his deviance shows that Ricky was too young to have a baby because he still wants to act like he has no responsibilities and paints a bad picture for single teenaged fathers. Adrian’s deviance of enjoying casual sex goes against cultural norms because casual sex is frowned upon since you are expected to be having sex with the person you are married to. Adrian has to deal with backlash as a result of her deviance. Grace has her fair share of deviance because she breaks her vow of abstinence and looses her virginity to her boyfriend Jack. She feels terrible and thinks that the whole world is out to get her for committing a sin especially after her father dies and blames herself for it because she broke her vow and did not stick by her religion. Anne and George Juergens both have sexual affairs; this type of deviance is looked upon in disapproval because as a result it leads to them having a divorce. A divorce is shamed in society because it proves that they did not stand to last until death. Deviance does not paint a pretty picture for anybody and it all has consequences because of society’s expectations. The deviance content that is displayed in The Secret Life of The American Teenager contributes to the problem of defining deviance because society as whole cannot agree on what should be considered deviant. What is deviant to one person might not be deviant to another. Some deviance is appearing to be more normal in society because of the reoccurrence of the deviance committed. For example, more and more teenagers are getting pregnant that it is becoming a normal thing to see. Someone also might not see teen pregnancy as a deviance thing because in older times, women were having babies at a young age. Casual sex is another example because more and more people are choosing to have casual sex rather than having one partner and being in a committed relationship. All these images contribute to the problem of deviance because it depends on how each individual views the situation and decides whether they think it is deviant or not, it all comes down to personal choice. Society is constantly changing and no one thing stays the same for long, we cannot avoid change and we ourselves modify to change. Deviance will always be apart of society and the media will continue to display deviance in a way that is fascinating and captivating.
Television shows allow for deviance to be displayed because it reaches a mass amount of people. The media and deviance give viewers an insight to the way that society is changing and it therefore reflects it through the content displayed. The media uses platforms for a purpose and showcasing deviance is one of these purposes. If deviance were not shown then people would not learn about social norms and what is acceptable and not acceptable in society.
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