The Secret Life of the American Teenager ended in 2013, but it helped launch Shailene Woodley’s career. The actress eventually took on roles in other coming-of-age stories like The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars before moving on to more mature content like HBO’s award-winning Big Little Lies. Looking back on her time on the show, Woodley shared some blunt thoughts about why she felt “stuck” on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
The Freeform series, which was created by 7th Heaven’s Brenda Hampton, centered Shailene Woodley’s Amy Juergens, a teenager who had to contend with an unexpected pregnancy and its impact on not only her, but the lives of her family and close friends. The series was popular in its heyday and ran for five seasons before it was cancelled. However, when thinking about the show and its message about sex, Woodley recalled her displeasure with certain episode scripts, specifically in later seasons, and how the show pushed ideologies she didn’t agree with. Here’s what Woodley told Bustle about it:
There were a lot of things that were written into the scripts that not just me, but a lot of the cast, disagreed with. There were belief systems that were pushed that were different than my own. Yet legally I was stuck there. To this day it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. So being on Secret Life propelled me to be more vocal about my own belief systems.
Shailene Woodley went on to joke that she’d lost her virginity several times onscreen simply due to the fact that the characters she was playing were at that point in their lives. At the time, playing characters in coming-of-age stories proved to be “therapeutic” for Woodley.
The actress also revealed that she spent years in an open relationship that taught her a lot about her own emotional connection with sex. Whereas The Secret Life of the American Teenager promoted abstinence later on in its five-season run, exemplified by characters wearing promise rings. Shailene Woodley revealed that she has a healthy relationship with her sexuality and enjoys sex. In her words:
I love sex. I think it is one of the most underrated, underappreciated, and undervalued experiences that we have.
The American Life of the American Teenager had a good run when it aired on Freeform, but it definitely sounds like Shailene Woodley has moved on from that point in her life and the show. The network has since gone on to produce a number of other youth-centered shows like Pretty Little Liars and its spin-off show The Perfectionists, The Bold Type, and Shadowhunters among several others.