I have to be honest. When I first looked up Pregnant at 17, this Saturday night's new movie airing on Lifetime, my first thought was, "Hey, that girl who plays Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) on Orphan Black is in this!" But once that bit of delight/shock subsided, I wondered, is Pregnant at 17 based on a true story, like so many other movies that have aired on Lifetime before it?
Well, once I read the synopsis for Pregnant at 17, I certainly hoped the movie wasn't rooted in fact in any way, shape, or form. Here's how Pregnant at 17's production company Reel One Entertainment describes the film on its website:
When Sonia finds out her husband of 10 years is having an affair, she decides to get to know the young woman, Chelsea, he's fallen in love with. Chelsea, a free-spirit who believes in polyamory, brings a happiness and fulfillment to Sonia that she's never experienced before — especially since her miscarriage which left her depressed and hopeless. The three form a polyamorous relationship until an unexpected turn of events sends all of their lives into a tailspin...
Huh. Well that's certainly not how I thought this movie was going to go, and this is not really how Lifetime presents it either. The network takes a very different approach to describing the movie on its website.
After witnessing a brutal crime, things are finally starting to look up for 17 year old high school dropout Chelsea. She's fallen madly in love with Jeff, an older and accomplished man who is promising to give her the life she can only dream of; there's only one hitch...he's still married! To make matters worse, Chelsea finds out she is pregnant and Jeff wants nothing to do with the baby. Being withdrawn, Jeff's wife Sonia suspects he is having an affair and discovers not only is the other woman just 17 but she is pregnant too. When Sonia meets Chelsea she feels sorry for her and decides to help her out but when a dark figure from Chelsea's past returns it puts all three of them in danger, including her unborn baby!
There's nothing suggesting that Pregnant at 17 is based on a true story in either synopsis and it has not been advertised as such, so it appears to be a complete work of fiction. The wackiness of Pregnant at 17's trailer, which you can watch below, also points to there being no fact to this film, since it probably would have gotten a more somber treatment if that were the case.
As you can see, teen pregnancy is just the tip of the iceberg in Pregnant at 17, but if I'm just thinking of stories where someone's wife befriends their mistress, there have been a few movies before this one that have forged this path. The Other Woman, a 2014 rom-com starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton, is one that immediately comes to mind. The three women find out that the character played by Jaime Lannister, I mean Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is cheating on them and they decide to get revenge. Girl power!
Of course, a famous real-life example somewhat related to this was when Debbie Reynolds' husband Eddie Fisher had an affair with her good friend Elizabeth Taylor in the 1950s. Though that incident strained their relationship for some time, the two Hollywood legends eventually patched things up and became friends again, as Reynolds told People in January 2015. It's not at all like the situation in Pregnant at 17 beyond the simple idea of a woman befriending someone her husband had an affair with, but the fact that all of this happened will never cease to amaze me, so I think it's worth a mention.
Unfortunately, the issues featured in Pregnant at 17 (teen pregnancy, infidelity) are realities of the world in which we live, but to find all three of these topics tackled in one story shows the creative liberties that movies can take when they remain totally fictional.
Image: Reel One Entertainment