Teen Pregnancy Is No Joke: The Truth About TLC’s Unexpected

Shows about teen pregnancy have been on the air since MTV’s Teen Mom premiered in 2009. TLC added to the genre with the premiere of Unexpected in 2017. The show follows the lives of three pregnant teenagers as they prepare to have their first child and the struggles that come along with teen pregnancy.

Unexpected cast / McKayla Adkins / Tyra Boisseau, Tiarra Boisseau / Ethan Tenney, McKayla Adkins.
Source: TLC

With the pressure of teen pregnancy comes plenty of drama in front of and behind the cameras. From breakups and arrests to issues with the show, the cast members have faced issues in their lives and with the show’s producers. There is much more to TLC’s Unexpected than what we see on TV.

Partnering With a Non-Profit

Shows like Unexpected and Teen Mom receive a lot of criticism because they walk a fine line between using teen pregnancy for entertainment and teaching people about the struggles of it. While many people enjoy watching the drama of these troubled teen couples, teen pregnancy is not glamorous.

Cast members pose in a promotional portrait for the show.
Source: TLC

Teen moms are usually shamed for choosing to raise children at a young age, so TLC tried to make a difference. Unexpected partnered with Power to Decide, a non-profit that provides information to young people about their options if and when they are ready to have children. The goal is to spark meaningful conversations about unplanned pregnancies.

Cast Members Don’t Get Paid Much

Just because they are on a popular reality show doesn’t mean the cast of Unexpected gets paid a lot. While some TLC stars collect big paychecks, that is not the case for all shows. The “first-year moms” get paid under $1,000 per episode and a small bonus if they return for future seasons.

A still from the show.
Source: TLC

McKayla Adkins, one of the original moms on the series, was the only teen who surpassed the $1,000 limit per episode. In a YouTube video, she revealed that she needed to find another job because the show didn’t pay well. These young women are already struggling, and the show doesn’t help much.

TLC Producers Called “Evil”

Adkins was part of the Unexpected cast until Season 3. She and her family decided to leave the show before Season 4 because she was uncomfortable with some of the things asked of her. It was a common complaint from cast members. Adkins said, “They pushed my boundaries to the limit.”

A still of Adkins during an interview.
McKayla Adkins. Source: YouTube

In a 2021 interview, Adkins claimed the producers put her in uncomfortable situations as a minor and made her answer inappropriate questions. She added, “When they didn’t get their way, they took my money or threatened to sue me.” Other former cast members confirmed Adkins’ complaints.

No Respect for Minors

In a tell-all video on her YouTube channel, Adkins shared the inappropriate situations she was put in on the show. She said the crew pushed her to film naked while giving birth, asked her to breastfeed on camera, and made her discuss private and intimate details about her sex life in front of her family.

A still of Adkins talking to the camera.
Source: YouTube

Adkins said, “We were sexualized. Our kids were probably sexualized. Honestly, I don’t even know how this show is still going.” Adkins and many other former cast members felt the producers went too far, considering they were all minors. It is not a good look for TLC.

They Were Kicked Off the Show

Reanna Cline and Taron Ward joined Unexpected during Season 4 with their daughter, Danica. Halfway through the season, TLC suddenly paused filming for over a month because they cut Cline and Ward from the series halfway through production. TLC never explained why.

A portrait of Reanna Cline / A still of Taron Ward.
Source: TLC

Cline and Ward were removed from the season’s trailer and future episodes. Cline’s mom confirmed on Twitter that the couple wouldn’t return to the show “for personal reasons.” No one fully explained why they were removed, but it might be because they didn’t cooperate with producers.

A Rocky Relationship

One of the main couples on Unexpected was Chloe Mendoza and Max Schenzel, and they faced many ups and downs in their relationship. They broke up, got back together, and dealt with lawsuits and jail sentences. But the couple didn’t make it in the end.

Chloe Mendoza and Max Schenzel take a picture with their baby girl.
Source: Pinterest

In June 2021, Schenzel uploaded a YouTube video about Mendoza’s new boyfriend. He went into detail about his thoughts on her new relationship. Schenzel revealed he has no communication with Mendoza or her family and worries for his daughter’s well-being around Mendoza’s boyfriend.

He Struggled With Drugs

During Season 3, Schenzel revealed his addiction to painkillers and discussed substance abuse on the series. After testing positive for Fentanyl three separate times, Schenzel started “intensive outpatient treatment.” He also violated his parole by using drugs, adding to his list of problems.

Chloe Mendoza talks about Schenzel during a video.
Source: YouTube

In June 2018, Schenzel was arrested for burglary and credit card theft. His jail sentence was delayed so he could get his drug addiction under control. Schenzel ended up behind bars in January 2021, where he spent six months after pleading guilty to the felony.

He Had Legal Troubles

Since appearing on Unexpected, Anthony Vanelli, Rilah Ferrer’s ex-boyfriend, has had a few run-ins with the law. In October 2019, he was charged with domestic violence after an altercation with Ferrer. She and her mother posted about the abuse on social media, prompting Vanelli’s arrest.

A portrait of Anthony Vanelli and Rilah Ferrer.
Source: Pinterest

Ferrer posted pictures on Instagram of bruises and videos of Vanelli threatening to take their daughter. He was charged with misdemeanor battery domestic violence, but his mom paid the $500 bond. He was arrested again in April 2021 for assault with a deadly weapon.

Too Late for Birth Control

When we first met Lexus Scheller, she and her mom discussed that she start birth control to avoid teen pregnancy. Unfortunately, during their visit to the doctor, they discovered she was already 12 days late and pregnant with her first child. They were in shock by the news.

A picture of Lexus Scheller with her mom and baby girl.
Source: TLC

Her mom, Kelsey, didn’t know Scheller was interested in anyone or having intimate relations. The news of the pregnancy was unexpected because Scheller had never had a boy at the house. Scheller was young, and they didn’t believe she was pregnant.

They Had More Babies

The young women on Unexpected never planned to have children in their teens, but some liked becoming mothers. A few former cast members have even had more children since leaving the show. After welcoming her first son, Adkins gave birth to a baby girl.

A photo of Adkins with her partner.
Source: Pinterest

Adkins broke up with her son’s father, Calean Morrison, married Ethan Tenney, and gave birth to another son in May 2022. Additionally, Tiarra Boisseau had a second baby in July 2021 with her boyfriend, Dee Ragland. Scheller also had a second child in 2021.

Three Generations

In some families, becoming a teen mom is more common than you think. Reanna Cline from Season 4 is a third-generation teen mom. Her grandmother got pregnant with her first child when she was 15, and Cline’s mom, Jessica, was pregnant at 17.

Reanna Cline takes a photo with her baby.
Source: Pinterest

While some parents try to break the cycle of teen pregnancy in their family, Cline’s mother and grandmother shared their hardships and trials. They could have used it as a warning to push Cline to practice safe sex and avoid becoming pregnant at 15.

Her Mom Tried to Get Custody

Because the girls are so young, many are not prepared to be mothers. Lexus Scheller’s mother, Kelsey, was concerned about her daughter’s financial situation and worried about how Scheller would provide for her daughter. Kelsey tried to take custody of her granddaughter.

Lexus speaks during an interview / Lexus poses next to her newborn and the baby’s father.
Source: TLC

Kelsey threatened to seek guardianship of her granddaughter because Scheller and her boyfriend could not provide a stable financial environment for their child. It didn’t sit well with Scheller and caused her to get mad at Kelsey for trying to start a custody battle. Kelsey had genuine concerns.

A Messy Love Triangle

Initially, Matthew Blevins was the father of Haily Tomlinson’s baby. However, after the baby was born, Blevins left her for Tomlinson’s former friend, Haily Tilford. When the season ended, Blevins and Tilford announced they were expecting a child. The news didn’t go over well with Tomlinson.

A still of Matthew Blevins and Haily Tomlinson’s during an episode from the show.
Source: TLC

Tomlinson was still upset about her breakup with Blevins when she found out he was having a baby with her former friend. It took a while for them to move forward, but everyone is trying to raise their children peacefully with all parties involved.

Pregnant at the Same Time

Fans of the show know that Adkins and her mother, Shannon, don’t have a good relationship. Adkins’ grandparents raised her because her mother was too addicted to drugs to care for Adkins. When Adkins was pregnant on Unexpected, she learned that Shannon was also expecting a child.

Adkins takes a picture with her children.
Source: Pinterest

Shannon had gone through rehab and tried to make amends with Adkins. Shannon and Adkins bonded over their pregnancies, becoming closer than they were in the past. Although their relationship wasn’t fixed, it gave them a chance to start healing.

Her Grandfather Got Sick

On top of the issues she had with her mom, Adkins also went through a lot with her grandparents, Tim and Cindy. They were the most well-known and respected grandparents on Unexpected for raising Adkins. Still, they were not perfect either, as Tim was a heavy drinker.

A still of Adkins in an episode from the show.
Source: TLC

After a lawnmower accident left Tim with severe burns on his legs, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, a late-stage liver disease. Tim stopped drinking after a warning from his doctor, but the damage was already done. He wouldn’t have known about the disease if he hadn’t had the accident.

Struggling With Her Mental Health

With all the drama the young moms face on Unexpected, it is no surprise that some seek help for emotional stress. In a video for her fans, Adkin said she was suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and depression. She revealed that she had to stop taking her medication because it worsened her problems.

A photo of Adkins with her boyfriend.
Source: Pinterest

Adkins admitted that juggling college, being a mom, navigating her relationships, and dealing with her unexpected fame was hard. It made her anxiety and depression worse. Adkins was also coping with her grandfather’s declining health.

She Dropped Out of School

There is no question that being a teen mom is challenging. Their lives revolve around a newborn, which isn’t easy for a young teen. Lilly Bennett struggled with school before giving birth, and it became too much once she welcomed her child.

A still of Lilly Bennett in an episode from the show.
Source: TLC

Bennett felt judged by her former friends for being pregnant, so she dropped out. The decision wasn’t easy, but it protected Bennett from the bullying she had experienced since the beginning of her pregnancy. It was too stressful to be ridiculed by her classmates every day.

Confused About Pregnancy

While Bennett has shown that she is not the sharpest one in the bunch, she proved that there needs to be better sex-ed classes in school. Bennett reportedly didn’t know it was so easy to get pregnant. Viewers wondered if her mom ever had “the talk” with her.

Bennett speaks to the camera during an episode.
Source: TLC

Bennett learned the hard way that there were consequences to her actions. When she got pregnant, she was educated about her body and reproductive system. Bennett had to learn quickly because she needed to learn how to be a mom.

Saving Herself for Marriage

Emiley Noack and Diego Reyes joined Unexpected in Season 2. Noack told the cameras that she was going to save herself for marriage, but things didn’t go according to plan. She gave in to the pressures of having a boyfriend as a teen, resulting in pregnancy.

A still of Diego Reyes and Emiley Noack during an episode.
Source: TLC

The drama between Noack, her controlling mom, and Reyes played out on Season 2, with Reyes admitting that he didn’t respect Noack’s mom. It was clear that Reyes wasn’t ready to be a good boyfriend or father, so Noack ended the relationship.

She Made Shady Comments

When Unexpected started airing, viewers drew comparisons to MTV’s Teen Mom. Lexus Scheller shot down this comparison in an interview with US Weekly. Scheller said, “Our show’s a lot different… there’s not as much drama. I think it’s more real. Our problems are more realistic than on Teen Mom.”

Lexus takes a picture of herself.
Source: Pinterest

MTV did not respond to Scheller’s comments, leaving the truth to be decided by viewers. Whether Unexpected or Teen Mom is more authentic is undecided, but the reality shows draw large audiences worldwide. Still, Teen Mom is better known than Unexpected.

Ratings Have Dropped

Unexpected recently finished its fifth season, but ratings started to drop during Season 4. They plunged by a whopping 44 percent. Viewers tuned in to watch Season 5, but there have still been questions about the show’s authenticity and whether or not the drama is real.

A still from the show.
Source: TLC

Many fans believe the show is scripted, calling out moments that feel inauthentic. In a Reddit thread, many fans commented on Tyra Boisseau’s interviews. Viewers said it seemed like she was reading something or recalling lines from a script because the interviews didn’t feel natural.

Is It Scripted?

While many believe parts of Unexpected are scripted, a handful of commenters defended the show. One viewer wrote, “I don’t think it’s scripted at all. I think most of these people have a light they want to paint themselves in and are trying to behave a certain way in front of the cameras.”

A still from the show.
Source: TLC

While it might not be scripted, producers might guide the cast toward certain storylines, which promote drama. The show feels fake if people aren’t being authentic in front of the camera. Even if it’s not scripted, everyone agrees that Unexpected is heavily edited.

Edited to Look Bad

Many people believe Unexpected is edited or scripted because of the relationship between Kylen Smith and Jason Korpi. Fans think some scenes are more dramatic to make viewers “hate-watch,” keeping ratings up. Korpi is disliked within the fandom and is usually the topic of conversation.

Kylen stares surprised at Jason Korpi during an episode.
Source: TLC

It has been suggested that scenes between Smith and Korpi are altered to make him seem meaner and more incompetent than he really is. It could be wishful thinking, but we don’t think Smith would still be in a relationship with Korpi if he were as awful as portrayed on the show.

They Are Still Together

Smith and Korpi joined the show during Season 5, and many have wondered if the two are still together. They appeared to be supported by their parents during the pregnancy, but it wasn’t without drama. Korpi wanted to keep Smith’s family at a distance so he could make all the decisions.

A still of Smith and Korpi during an interview.
Source: YouTube

Based on their Instagram pages, Korpi and Smith are making things work for their family. The fans believe they should split up, but these teens will do what they think is best. Viewers are not rooting for the success of this relationship.

Evaluated Before Filming

Former Unexpected cast member Chloe Mendoza spilled some behind-the-scenes secrets about the show’s filming process. She told fans that it was a long process to get on the show and that her mom had emailed the casting agency. Once they got a call, Mendoza and her parents had several interviews.

Chloe Mendoza takes a picture with her daughter.
Source: Pinterest

Mendoza revealed that a psychiatrist evaluated her during the interview process. She and her family also underwent background checks to ensure they wouldn’t do anything “crazy” on camera. After passing the evaluation, they joined the cast.

The Worst Part of Filming

Mendoza shared her feelings about the filming process. She said the production crew followed her with a camera for one week a month, with a few extra days dedicated to couch interviews. They would spend two to four hours being interviewed.

Mendoza records herself while driving.
Source: Pinterest

The cast occasionally had to do extra interviews and wear the same outfit for every interview. Mendoza explained how challenging it was because the interviews made them relive certain difficult situations. It was hard to talk about things that she had already gotten over.

It’s Not All Bad

She might not have enjoyed certain aspects of being on the show, but Mendoza is grateful for the opportunities that came after her time on TV. She thanks the show for giving her a platform to make money. Mendoza is able to provide for her daughter while attending school.

Mendoza records herself talking to the camera.
Source: YouTube

The show has given Mendoza a way to support her daughter, but people recognize her in public. She said she has to be nice to everyone and feels that she is not allowed to be in a bad mood because of what people might say. Still, Mendoza likes to meet her fans.

It Runs in the Family

The three teen moms from Season 1 of Unexpected were all daughters of teen moms. Scheller’s mom, Kelsey, and Bennett’s mom, Kim, were 16 when they gave birth to their daughters. Adkins’ mom, Shannon, was 19 when she had her daughter.

A portrait of Adkins.
Source: Pinterest

This is a situation where a parent wouldn’t want their child to follow in their footsteps. The young women didn’t plan to get pregnant as their moms did, but it happened, and they had to deal with the consequences. Luckily, they had someone in their lives who had already experienced it.

A Valuable Lesson

While many people criticize shows about teen pregnancy, Unexpected provides valuable insight. The show gives viewers a look into the lives of these young girls who made a mistake. It is a learning opportunity and shows how easy it is to make bad decisions and unexpectedly get pregnant.

A still from the show.
Source: TLC

Unexpected teaches young women and parents many lessons about dealing with teen pregnancy. Although some believe these shows glamorize teen pregnancy, Unexpected allows viewers to see the negative sides of getting pregnant at such a young age and how it affects everyone.

The Family Impact

Getting pregnant at a young age affects the young girl’s life and impacts the entire family. As you can imagine, it must be scary to find out you are pregnant before you can even vote. That, coupled with financial issues, makes these situations even more challenging.

Contestants speak to the camera during the show.
Source: TLC

Unexpected shows that the teen mom, her baby daddy, and their families are all affected by the news because they have to change their lives to help with the new baby. Many parents on Unexpected try to support their pregnant children.

Not Prepared to Be Parents

As you might assume, the three teen couples who starred on Unexpected Season 1 were not ready to be parents. Most teenagers aren’t prepared for the responsibility of caring for another human life. Not only are they not financially stable enough to provide for children, but they can barely take care of themselves.

A portrait of one of the contestants with her baby.
Source: TLC

The teens have to learn everything about parenting in a few short months. They are still children themselves, but they turn into adults overnight. Unexpected shows how hard it is to be a parent, and it’s a warning to others.

Better Parenting

When people hear about teen pregnancies, they automatically assume that the parents didn’t do a good job in raising their children. However, as you watch Unexpected, you will see that the teens have parents or guardians who love and care for them.

A former contestant poses with her children.
Source: Pinterest

Most of the time, the families on Unexpected are committed to helping ease the burden of welcoming a newborn. Some of the parents were teen parents themselves, so they understand the trials and tribulations that come with becoming a parent at a young age.

She Thought They Were Married

When Bennett got pregnant, she thought it meant she was automatically married to her father’s child. Bennett didn’t understand that just because she and James Kennedy were having a child together didn’t mean they were legally married. She wanted to give her child Kennedy’s last name.

Bennett poses for a picture with her new boyfriend and children.
Source: Pinterest

Bennett’s mom was opposed to the idea, saying Bennett should wait till she is married to give her child a different last name. Bennett must have misunderstood because Kennedy gave her a promise ring, not an engagement ring. The couple broke up shortly after their daughter was born.

She Returned to the Show

Bennett rejoined the Unexpected cast during Season 4. She prepared to welcome her second child with her new boyfriend, Lawrence. He was nervous about being a first-time dad, but Lawrence proposed to Bennett shortly before the baby was born. They stayed together through Season 5.

A still of Bennett with her new boyfriend during an episode from the show.
Source: TLC

Bennett and Lawrence moved in together during Season 5, but it was a tough adjustment with two children and no help from Bennett’s mom. Living together caused some arguments, but the couple has remained strong and are still together. They recently posted a family photo on Instagram.

Married and Divorced

Lauren Barron and Tylor Strawmyer from Season 2, welcomed their son and got married. They seemed like they would be the only couple that didn’t break up, especially after having a second child in 2019. They started going through some rocky times in 2020 after Barron’s miscarriage.

A still of Tylor Strawmyer and Lauren Barron talking to the camera.
Source: YouTube

They fought, broke up, reconciled, and repeated the pattern until Strawmyer filed for divorce in May 2021. There was a lot of drama surrounding their breakup, including allegations that he got another woman pregnant. As of 2022, Barron said she and Strawmyer are splitting custody equally.

Sister, Sister

Tyra Boisseau and her sister Tiarra were both in Season 3. The sisters got pregnant within months of each other, with Tiarra giving birth in late 2018 and Tyra welcoming her child in March 2019. Although they shared being teen moms, the sisters had different ideas for their futures.

A still of Tiarra and Tyra during an episode.
Source: TLC

Unlike Tyra, Tiarra didn’t finish school. Viewers didn’t agree with her decision, but she had strong opinions about her sister’s decision to go to college. Tiarra thought it was wrong for Tyra to go to college and leave her daughter behind, causing a huge fight between them.

They Had Another Child

While her sister juggled school and having a child, Tiarra and her boyfriend Dee Ragland welcomed a second child in July 2021. Ragland is in the Air Force, so he is provided housing for himself and his family. Tiarra didn’t need to work like her sister.

Tiarra poses for a portrait with her baby.
Source: Pinterest

Instead of praising her sister for chasing her dreams, Tiarra shamed her for being a bad mom. Many people agreed, commenting on Tiarra’s photos, “Go to school. There’s more to life than having kids.” Tiarra has brushed off the comments, and she seems pretty happy with her family.

Will There Be a Season Six?

Season 5 of Unexpected ended in June 2022 after a two-part tell-all episode. Unexpected has not been canceled, but there hasn’t been an announcement for Season 6. As ratings have gradually dropped since Season 4, it will be interesting to see if it returns.

Adkins poses for a picture with her family.
Source: Pinterest

Season 5 brought in better viewership numbers than Season 4, but was it enough to keep the show on the air for another season? While it will probably take another few months for TLC to make an official announcement, fans can follow their favorite cast members on social media.

It Will Never Be Teen Mom

While TLC is trying to make Unexpected the next big thing since Teen Mom, they probably won’t achieve the same success. Teen Mom has been on the air for over a decade, and the cast has gained a lot of fame. The show’s stars are well-known, whereas the Unexpected cast is still unknown.

A still of the lead cast from Teen Mom.
Source: MTV

Unexpected has only been on TV for a few years, so the show has a long way to go till it catches up with Teen Mom. However, based on the ratings, we don’t know if Unexpected will last to see the same amount of success as Teen Mom.