MTV's reality show, Teen Mom, documents the lives of four of the teenage mothers who originally appeared on the network's series 16 and Pregnant. Premiering December 8, 2009, the pilot was one of MTV’s highest rated premiers, with 2.1 million viewers. It rapidly became one of MTV’s most popular programs and a magnet for the tabloid media, thanks in part to emotional on-screen upheavals and the sometimes surprising off-screen antics of the four main cast members.
Cast Member: Farrah Abraham
From: Council Bluffs, Iowa
Children: One daughter, Sophia Laurent Abraham
Child’s Father: The late Derek Underwood
Profile: Abraham is a former cheerleader and aspiring model who has a complicated relationship with her parents. The father of her child, Derek Underwood, died in a car accident while Abraham was still pregnant. In Season Two, her mother, Debra Danielson, was charged with assaulting Abraham. The series documents that rocky relationship as well as following Abraham's therapy and her efforts to finish culinary school.
Off Screen: Since Season Two ended, Abraham has battled Underwood's mother for custody of Sophia, faced child neglect charges from day care workers and graduated from culinary school. In 2011, she posed for J. Anthony Digital Photography’s Mastering the Art of American Motorcycles calendar and announced that she's working on an autobiography.
Cast Member: Maci Bookout
From: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Children: One son, Bentley Cadence Edwards
Child’s Father: Ryan Edwards
Profile: MTV called Bookout the “classic teenage overachiever.” She’s a level-headed, smart and popular girl-next-door type who was on the dance team before she got pregnant. During the series she struggles to stay in school and deal with the fall out as her relationship with Edwards changes dramatically.
Off Screen: Bookout has become a paparazzi magnet. In 2011, the tabloids documented Bookout's rumored plastic surgery and gossip website TMZ published photos of 19-year-old Bookout drinking beer. While in Los Angeles filming the reunion for Teen Mom Season Three, Bookout reportedly established a friendship with Dancing With the Stars' Kendra Wilkinson, adding to rumors that Brookout plans to continue in TV entertainment.
Cast Member: Catelynn Lowell
From: Port Huron, Michigan
Children: One daughter, Carolynn “Carly” Elizabeth
Child’s Father: Tyler Baltierra
Profile: Lowell is a quirky and funny high school student who made the difficult decision to place her daughter up for adoption. Lowell and Baltierra chose an open adoption with a couple Brandon and Teresa, who also appear on the show. Lowell’s mother, April, and Baltierra's father, Butch (who met while their kids were dating and later married) both opposed the adoption, and that conflict has been a significant element on the show. Lowell, has been embraced by fans for putting a human face on open adoption and showing that pregnant teens have more than one option to care for their child.
Off Screen: Lowell and Baltierra became fan favorites during the first two seasons. They were finalists for Logo TV's 2011 NewNowNext Awards in the “Most Addictive Reality Star” category and Jezebel.com readers raised $14,000 to help pay for the couple's college educations.
Cast Member: Amber Portwood
From: Anderson, Indiana
Children: A daughter, Leah Leann Shirley
Child‘s Father: Gary Shirley
Profile: This self-described party girl has struggled with anger management issues and dropped out of high school after becoming pregnant. She is working to get her GED. Meanwhile, she and Shirley have a volatile on and off-again relationship unlikely to survive the emotional and economic pressures of teenage parenthood.
Off Screen: After an episode in the Second Season showed Portwood punching and choking Shirley, Indiana police and Child Protective Services investigated Portwood on assault charges. In late 2010, KLTA television in Anderson, Indiana, reported that Portwood had been arrested and charged with three Class D felonies (two counts of domestic battery and one count of neglect of a dependent) as well as one misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. In 2011, nude photos of Portwood showed up on RadarOnline sparking another controversy.