THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER “And Circumstance“ Season 4 Episode 13 – It’s been a long thirteen weeks (ignoring the episodes from season 3 which plagued the first half of the summer, of course) but Ricky and co are finally graduating to pursue higher education and leave their friends in high school. Before graduation however we have speeches and goodbyes and a party with music I actually don’t think is in the public domain or in ABC’s vault of emotional nuance, so that’s something.

It’s been a weird season for The Secret Life, starting out with a devastating miscarriage and a marriage imploding. It was a startling revelation for those of us who watch the show with raised eyebrow: it showed what this show was, on some far away horizen, capable of. Giving us the soapy yet sincere tragedy of high school and marriage, of death and birth and life, of breakdowns and depressions. When the show decided to splurge out for some Adele, it had it’s most chilling moment ever. The show had leapt out of its comfort zone of contrived teenage angst and, despite it’s many flaws, provided something in the Adrian and Ben storyline which was rich and potent.

Then somwhere after Adele, the screws started coming off. Adrian turned into a caricature of a mysoginist’s femme fatale and Ben got drunk. The only other storyline holding any water was Ricky and Amy’s, and that descended too into a frustrating dozen episodes of tiptoeing around marriage propals, moving in together, trusting each other, things the audience has already seen the show do a million times before.

This episode finally bit the bullet and Ricky finally proposed to Amy. The speeches were corny, sure, but their sincerity overrode the sappy quality and Ricky’s in particular gave insight into his character I was glad to have. He’s done so well at school since it was his salvation from a traumatic home: that’s believable, that’s deep, and it makes me empathise so much more with the character, and where he’s coming from. Picking out the kids who helped him along the way: sure, it was incredibly cloying, but it was also sweet and sad and happy.

The episode ended with a party which got a bunch of people laid and featured a bizarre kiss between Adrian and Ricky with Amy’s permission. You could almost see the writers drawing arrows on the screen: he’ll get with her because she’s mad at him who’s mad at her and wants to leave because he wants to dance with her and she’s there and she doesn’t want to leave but he leaves (that was the Jack, Grace, Daniel triangle in a nutshell, by the way). It was a way for the writers to sort of reset their character’s relationship statuses bar Ricky and Amy’s for next year.

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