Deviance on Television
In sociology, the term deviance refers to behaviors or attitudes which go against certain cultural norms. It is evident that deviance is a fascinating topic not only for sociologist, but for television industry and its viewers, as well. In recent years, increasing number of shows begun to feature individuals violating every kind of social norm from folkways to taboos. The Secret Life of the American Teenager, an American television series on the ABC Family television network, is one of the many contemporary shows that portray deviant behaviors on national television. It’s intended for the target audience of teens and their families who are trying to cope in a culture where teen girls and boys are sexually active.
I chose this particular show, because of one key reason. Secret Life of the American Teenager explores a teenage taboo. It is reflective of a new strain in American morality that accepts teenage sexual exploration, teenage pregnancy, and all other forms of deviance and misconduct. When Secret Life first debuted, it was supposed to be a “cautionary’ tale about teenage pregnancy, but it is handled more like a deviant soap opera. Not only does an abstinence-only, pro-life agenda appear to be advocated, but that Secret Life also portrays negative historical stereotypes about gender, race, and sexuality. This programming depicts adolescent sexuality in terms of a heterosexual script which situates traditional gender roles as prohibited by hegemonic masculinity as the norm, as well as reinforces a sexual and racial double standard.
There are two major sociological terms demonstrated on Secret Life of the American Teenager. The first term is deviance, a behavior, trait, or belief that departs from a norm, is projected through these four characters. Amy Juergens is a fifteen year old “good girl” in high school who plays the French horn and wants to someday attend Juilliard. At summer band camp, prior to starting her freshman year,...
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