Other than being an adult with better things to do, there was no reason behind my refusal to watch MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. But during a daylong Netflix instant viewing session with a dear friend, one rediscovery confirmed that I’d seen all I needed to see of knocked up teenagers and their boyfriends in John Avildsen’s For Keeps?
In this 1988 drama, Molly Ringwald plays Darcy, a high school senior with her sights set on a journalism degree. But when she and her boyfriend Stan (played by Randall Batinkoff) learn of Darcy’s pregnancy, both of their college plans come to a screeching halt.
The movie unfolds the way the MTV generations might expect: parents clash over options, tension in the relationship rises…and Pauly Shore shows up to a wedding with a boom box.
At first glance, Pauly looked like nothing more than “the best extra ever.” But after a closer look—and a line of dialogue about the Chinese killing babies—we confirmed that it was MTV’s wild man of the early 90s with a bit part in this movie, making it even more special than originally thought, especially for greater purpose of this review.
Naturally, the majority of 16 and Pregnant watchers have no idea who Pauly Shore even is. But, interestingly enough, Pauly represented the bastardization of what MTV had become nearly 20 years ago, whereas today, instead of Pauly Shore, there’s Pauly D of Jersey Shore (quite the eerie coincidence, huh, buhhhhhddy?).
So the real takeaway from watching For Keeps? is not that Molly Ringwald is the “luckiest normal-looking girl to get famous,” but that older people have no grounds for commenting on the decay of MTV. The departure from music-centric programming started long ago and has chugged on consistently over the years.
But, just as with any intergenerational conflict, older people will still contend that things were better before, which raises a terrifying question: what will MTV look like 20 years from now when today’s young people are shaking their heads over what their children are watching?