The Wife:

In the last two episodes of SLOTAT, we finally got to figure out Ricky a little bit by bringing his drug-dealing child-molesting muscle-car driving father back into town, fucking shit up for his son and everyone else. Amy continued to struggle with the idea of giving her baby up for adoption and Ben desperately tried to find his place in this whole mess. Because it’s becoming a trend with SLOTAT for different sets of characters to have the same conversation five times, I don’t see the need to tediously recap things here. Instead, I’d rather discuss a few things:

Ricky: So, after numerous hints that Ricky may have been sexually abused, we finally get the truth as to why he’s so messed up and in need of scary therapy. He delivers a rousing monologue, filled with several levels of histrionics that remind me of a bad Brando impression, during the cold open of “That’s Enough of That” that explains – in as much detail as ABC Family is willing to divulge – about the horrors of his sexual molestation as a child. Adrian is so moved by this, hearing her lover actually become something of a human in front of her, that she spends the rest of the episode trying to do everything she can to get her dad to put Ricky’s dad back in jail. It’s interesting to see how this information actually makes Adrian care about someone, but this monologue really lost a lot of impact for me because I’d already heard the information contained within it about five times before – at least twice in the previous episode, “The Father and the Son.”

Because of Ricky’s history in foster care, he is adamant that Amy not give their baby up for adoption. Amy tries to protest to him that the baby might be better off in a home where one or more parents have jobs and health insurance, to which Ricky replies:

“Half the country’s out of work and half the country doesn’t have insurance. They’re not giving up their sons and daughters for adoption.”

I only sort of get where he’s coming from here. Yeah, the foster care system sucks. I can’t disagree there. But the difference is this: Ricky was not an infant when he went into the foster care system. An infant who goes up for adoption gets adopted. And it stays with that family. Why? Because people want to adopt infants. If Ricky and Amy decided to put their baby up for adoption, it wouldn’t be bounced from home to home. It would be, as Amy suggests, with people who can care for it better than its birth parents. But a child in foster care is a different story. There’s less demand in adoptive homes for non-infant children. And that’s a tragedy, truly. But ultimately, Ricky’s opposition to adoption just doesn’t make sense. He’s kind of being a selfish bastard.

But it's so easy to just go on hating everyone and fucking Adrian whenever I want to.

But it's so easy to just go on hating everyone and fucking Adrian whenever I want to.

Especially because he practically changes his mind in the next episode, although not directly about adoption, especially because his dad wants to make money off the adoption and take a cut of the money Amy and Ricky would get from the adoptive parents. Once more people learn the truth about his abuse as a child, Ricky starts to cleave himself from them. He tells Grace’s parents that he can’t be with her because of what happened to him, fearing, I guess, that he will become like his father. I’m glad that by the end of this episode Marshall Bowman sat him down and called him on his assholery. Sure, Jack called him out on two-timing Grace with Adrian at the end of “The Father and the Son,” but Ricky really needed to hear Mr. Bowman’s advice. By lying to Grace just to get in her pants and hate-fucking Adrian all the time, amidst the numerous other lies he’s told over the course of the series, Ricky is only setting down the path to continue the cycle of abuse set forth by his father. But Ricky can’t spend his whole life acting however he wants and blaming his bad behavior on the fact that he was abused. That only continues the cycle. He has to take personal responsibility for his life and his actions and actively change. I don’t know if he will, but I think this imperative will set us up for more really intense monologues from Ricky. And possibly more of him smashing carseats to vent his frustration.

Amy: Still resistant to having her baby be adopted, Amy really started to remind me of a favorite Maury guest (which I’ve included below) when she kept assuring herself that, even if she couldn’t get a job or marry Ben, her baby would be just fine. The spectre of Ricky’s abusive father, though, looms over Amy’s misguidedly sunny disposition. Mama Ringwald advises her daughter that, because of Bob the Child Molester’s presence in Ricky’s life, it’s probably best for the baby to be adopted by another family, presumably in a closed adoption so it will be entirely safe from Bob. Amy can’t really refute this argument, and has the fateful talk with Ricky about having their child adopted, which doesn’t turn out as she’d hoped.

While she’s still undecided about exactly what to do with her baby, Amy goes off to the doctor’s office to have a prenatal exam, and it’s a very special one. If she wanted to, she could learn the sex of her child. And here’s where Ben comes in . . .

Ben: While all this drama happens around him, all Ben wants to do is have his happy little fake marriage with Amy. He wants her to keep the baby, and he hopes it’s a girl. I find his naiveté in these matters to be adorably misguided. Poor Ben misses his mom so much that he just wants to have a nice nuclear family any way he can – even if that means raising his girlfriend’s baby by another man. Because he is her once and future husband, Ben assumes he’s allowed to join in on all of the pre-baby activities. He wants to be there when Amy finds out the sex of her baby. And he really wants to be there for the birth. The Sausage King basically tells him he’s nuts for wanting to do these things, but Ben can’t understand why it’s inappropriate. Sausage King goes on to explain that all of that is for people who have been intimate with each other and who have both had an active process in the creation of the baby at hand. He worries that his son hasn’t considered the fact that he’s never seen Amy naked and has never, ever seen her pregnant belly exposed.

Mom, even though you gave birth to me, I don't want you to see my belly, okay?

Mom, even though you gave birth to me, I don't want you to see my belly, okay?

To which I say: is there some taboo about pregnant bellies I do not know about? Maybe it’s the sort of free-wheeling feminist earth mother culture that I’m constantly surrounded by, but what is so taboo about a pregnant belly? Few of my friends have children, but I have seen numerous photographs of their pregnant bellies throughout the course of their pregnancy. Is Brenda Hampton honestly trying to tell pregnant women that they need to be self-conscious about baring their bearing bellies? Because that is the most fucked up notion I have ever heard. No one should be self-conscious about the most natural thing in the world. (Do not even get me started on my issues with the way birth is treated.)

Amy reiterates the Sausage King’s concerns when Ben asks her about them, perhaps a little too late since he’d already packed the video camera to record the moment of sex-finding-out for all posterity, and he’s understandably crushed. He asks her to please, please consider letting him attend the birth, and he promises, if it will make her more comfortable, to stand up be her face and stick to hand-holding and brow-wiping. She tells him she will consider it, and then ends up inviting him to meet her after her appointment to film a sweet little video to give to her son, whether she keeps him or not.

I can understand Amy being a little uncomfortable with Ben attending the birth, although I have a feeling that she will let him be there when the time comes, but if you are fifteen and having sex, I would generally assume that you’re comfortable enough with your body to let your boyfriend, who’s being a real mensch, by the way, offering to raise your child by another man, see your fucking belly. I mean, if you plan on marrying the dude, and did, in an illegal ceremony, I think you should act like an adult and appreciate his moral support. He’s not trying to be pervy. He’s just trying to do right by you, man.

Ashley: In “The Father and the Son,” Jack’s dad, Rev. Stone, came to drop by the Jurgens household to see if he could help with any of their problems by posing thoughtful questions and listening. Ashley really takes a shine to him and ends up going to see her “friend” in “That’s Enough of That.” However, we don’t get to see the development of Ashley’s spiritual side (which, from her snark about a white representation of Jesus she finds in the church, I gather will not be terribly deep), because a waitress named Veronica drops by to see the Reverend Stone, but can’t wait around because her restaurant is short-staffed. Ashley lies to her and tells her she’s 21 so that she can get a job waitressing. Despite her lack of people skills, Ashley does the job well and earns $100 in tips in her first two hours on the job, but gets busted by her dad when he meets the Sausage King there for dinner. She explains that she was just getting a job to try and help out with the baby so Amy didn’t have to give it up for adoption.

Jack: I think his entire mentor-a-kid-in-the-ghetto subplot was conceived solely so that he would see Bob the Child Molester selling drugs, call Adrian, who would in turn call her dad the DA, who would in turn call the cops and get Bob the Child Molester arrested, which is a big relief to Ricky and Adrian. I do not expect to see Jack going back to the ghetto ever again.

Some of the things I used to really enjoy about this show are kind of falling by the wayside as it becomes more and more mired in issue-laden storytelling. Seriously, Brenda Hampton, I’m glad you have an opinion on things live overcrowding in California’s prison system and the state of foster care, but the more “issues” you toss into this show, the more of its focus is lost. I miss some of the show’s lighter notes, and I miss seeing the teenagers actually be teenagers. It’s also a little weird that the last few episodes have involved information getting passed around to all of the characters in individual settings. I realize this is how information travels, but do I need to see it five times per episode? It’s getting a little tedious and far too “tell” instead of “show.” That’s enough of that, indeed.