Who spiked our favorite reality show with sad?
Teen Mom usually makes us do a happy Snoopy dance, but tonight's premiere was the emotional equivalent of putting Snoopy down.
We knew what to expect from Amber Portwood (whose tragedy has played out in the weekly headlines), but we counted on a little joy from Maci, Farrah and Catelynn.
Instead, we watched two hours of melancholy scored by the mournful music of baby Sophia's Yamaha.
Amber's story begins with her plea-bargain terms: court-ordered rehab for substance abuse/anger control/mental health and two years' probation (which she is now in prison for violating). She visits baby daddy Gary (say what you will about his questionable fashion choices, but the man is a doting dad to daughter Leah), who is dismayed when she starts guzzling wine upon her arrival.
"This is the first time I've had a drink because I just turned 21," she said with a straight face. (And if you believe that, you probably think the Teen Moms write their own scripts for their voiceovers.) Gary shouldn't be so judgy; as Amber explains, she needs the wine "to get the fact that I'm leaving for rehab off my mind." When Gary says he's glad she's getting help, she retorts, "People wonder why I hit you in your f--king face. You're just a rude mean person and I'm the bitch for hitting you."
If that scene weren't awful enough, the following episode opens with Gary's 911 call alerting authorities to Amber's suicide attempt. "She's wanting to hang herself and she said call the police so they can find my body in the garage."
Fortunately, Amber does get help at Malibu's Seasons Recovery Center. It's unclear whether she got her requested private room ("If I hit somebody they will put me in jail no matter what"), but one thing seems obvious: She had to surrender her false eyelashes upon check-in.
At least the episode ends on a hopeful note (for now), with Amber and Leah's loving phone call and Gary accepting the Seasons caseworker's invitation to
a Malibu vacation "an intensive therapeutic experience."
You know something is very wrong when Maci is the villain and baby daddy Ryan is the good guy, but that's exactly what we saw tonight. And unfortunately Ryan didn't even appear until the second episode, after their son Bentley conquered his separation anxiety and made friends at daycare.
At the last minute, Maci called Ryan to ask him to pick up Bentley earlier than usual so she could catch a flight; when he protested, she hung up on him after saying he should be flexible because "you don't have a job anymore."
News flash, Miss Maci: Ryan is going back to school! And if she doesn't start attending more classes, Ry-Ry might graduate (with a degree in Applied Technical Science?) before she does.
But Ryan isn't Maci's only victim: She picks a fight with boyfriend Kyle and, after he says she's "being an idiot," tells him to move out because he's treating her the same way Ryan used to. Um, Maci needs to rewatch her 16 and Pregnant episode if she thinks Kyle is being at all like Ryan 1.0, a cruel man-child who virtually abandoned her and his baby son while he partied all night.
After Kyle packed a bag and drove back to Nashville, manipulating Maci had Bentley call him and ask him to return. Which of course he did, and she eventually agreed to hug him, but at this point it seems like Kyle has a brighter future with Bentley than his live-in girlfriend.
Farrah is finally saying farewell to Iowa. (If the state's cosmetics industry collapses in her wake, we know who's to blame.) And instead of leaving daughter Sophia with her parents as they had agreed, Farrah has decided to bring her along to the Sunshine State. The grandparents are naturally heartbroken—they'd even converted Farrah's old bedroom into a room for Sophia. (TMI TMI TMI! We didn't need to see Farrah explain to her daughter that she'd be sleeping in the bed where Sophia was made with dearly departed dad Derek.)
After instructing stepdad Michael to load up a U-Haul with her furniture and drive it and her car to Florida, Farrah enjoys a last "girls' night out" dinner with Sophia and her mom. Debra is compelled to order the "Farrah" brand wine from the menu. The perfect antidote to the Farrah whine! (That was too easy.) Unfortunately, like Farrah, Debra says the vino is "sort of vinegary."
As Debra sadly cries that she is "grieving" about Sophia's big move, Farrah chides her, "Mom, grieving is when somebody dies. If you don't know the difference, then you need to go to counseling and talk that out."
Atta girl! Cue Farrah's own staged grief—another visit to her baby daddy's grave on what would've been his 21st birthday. While Sophia wanders away, Farrah tells Derek's headstone: "I wish we would've gotten married and spent more time together." Maybe she and Maci should have a 16 and Pregnant viewing party, because in Farrah's original episode, we saw her break up with Derek and change her phone number so he couldn't contact her anymore. But why ruin a good reality show with, you know, reality?
CATELYNN & TYLER
Speaking of reality TV exploitation, bravo to adoptive parents Brandon and Teresa, who barred their daughter Carly from being filmed during birth parents Catelynn and Tyler's second visit. Instead, we were treated to a photo montage when the quintet reunited in the Big Apple to celebrate Carly's 2nd birthday.
And honestly, the pictures still managed to capture the joy of that visit, and we cried along with Catelynn and Tyler afterward—especially when they reiterated their belief that they made the best decision for their daughter.
Who isn't proud of these kids, graduating high school and enrolling in college? Maybe next year they'll even be able to afford a table so they don't have to eat Carly's third birthday cake on the floor.