15 Secrets Behind TLC's Unexpected You Had No Idea About

TLC’s latest reality television show, Unexpected, has made waves in the reality TV world for its largely unexpected success.

Since its premiere in November of 2017, Unexpected has been compared to MTV’s Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, although it's considered to be of higher quality (in the niche of reality television shows about teenagers who are pregnant, that is) than its predecessors.

In fact, the show is being applauded for portraying teen pregnancy in a more realistic fashion, highlighting in a more accurate fashion the trials and tribulations of teen pregnancy, and how the cycle of teen pregnancy can run in the family.

From Lilly’s hilarious one-liners to the serious drama of McKayla and her mom, this show is undoubtedly entertaining. Sure, it might not be the most intellectually stimulating show out there, but it does at least make you consider the reality of life for a pregnant teenager, and definitely turns you off having kids too young.

That’s just one fact among many that you will learn about TLC’s latest reality TV hit! Read on to learn 15 Secrets Behind TLC’s Unexpected You Had No Idea About.

15 All Three Girls Are The Daughters Of Teen Moms

TLC Unexpected Lexus and Mom

It’s common knowledge that we inherit many of our habits from our parents, and this proves especially true in the case of the personalities featured on Unexpected.

For Lexus, Lilly, and McKayla, who are all teenage mothers, it seems as though falling pregnant young is somewhat of a habit for their family lineage, as all three of them also have mothers who were teenagers moms themselves. Lexus’ mother Kelsey was 16 years old, Lilly’s mother Kim was 16 years old, and McKayla’s mother Shannon was 19 years old.

It’s hard to know whether this is just coincidence or whether there’s some sort of scientific explanation for the trend – but it’s safe to say that the daughters have very much fallen in the footsteps of their mothers.

14 Lexus's Grandmother Was A Teen Mom

Lexus Mom and Grandmother TLC Unexpected

In the case of Lexus’s family, the above conclusions about family patterns wind up being even more true, once we learn that not only was Lexus’ mom Kelsey a teenager when she had her kid, but that Kelsey’s mother was also a teenager when she had Kelsey!

At this point, we can say with a fair amount of confidence that this family habit is more than just coincidence, and rather something learned and passed on from one generation to another.

Given the family history, it’s no surprise that Kelsey was not overjoyed when she found out her daughter was pregnant. Kelsey would have faced a whole range of obstacles as a result of being the daughter of a teenage mom, and she did not want the same for her own daughter, Lexus.

13 Lexus Discovered She Was Pregnant While She Was Getting Birth Control

Lexus Crying TLC Unexpected

Imagine being just 13 years old and finally having the courage to go to someone about birth control. In a country like the United States where discussions surrounding women’s reproductive rights and premarital relations remains insanely stigmatized, we can only imagine how challenging it must have been for Lexus to finally go to the doctor about getting on birth control.

When Lexus finally did make it to the doctor, the outcome was a lot worse than she could have possibly expected, as she found out that she was already pregnant.

According to her mom, Kelsey, Lexus cried so much when she found out the news that the doctor had to hold her until she calmed down. Imagine what it must have felt like for Kelsey, who tried so hard to get her daughter to stay away from boyfriend Shayden.

12 Lexus And Shayden Recently Called It Quits

Lexus and Shayden TLC Unexpected

If you are an in-the-closet fan of this TLC hit series, then you probably already have your well-formed opinions on your favorite and least favorite people on the show, as any proper fan would.

For the audience of Unexpected, one of the easiest to dislike cast members has always been Shayden, Lexus’s boyfriend. He is pompous and rude to Lexus, and far too immature (even for a 17-year-old).

The fact that recently broke up is most likely good news in the long run.

Sure, Lexus’s daughter Scarlett will grow up with a non-static family, but who doesn’t, nowadays? Divorce seems as common as getting the flu, and if Lexus and Shayden’s break up means Lexus will (hopefully) find happiness with someone far more mature in the future, then we see this as good news all around.

11 Lilly Dropped Out Of High School

Lilly TLC Unexpected

As it is, Lilly is already not the sharpest knife in the drawer. From not knowing what a zucchini is to not knowing how easy it was to get pregnant, this girl’s one liners are quite possibly one of the best features of the whole show.

Does this explain her dropping out of high school? Unlikely. The truth is, it has to be near impossible being a pregnant teenager in high school.

According to Lilly, the bullying that came from being pregnant led her to eventually drop school.

Lilly’s boyfriend James also dropped out of school when the two of them found out about the baby, and he started working at Target to support Lilly and their baby.

While neither of them are in school, their street smarts are going to be light years ahead of kids their own age, and Lilly plans on getting her GED some day.

10 Lilly Almost Died Early On In Her Pregnancy

Lilly and Baby Unexpected TLC

Sometime in the early stages of Lilly’s pregnancy, she and her boyfriend James were driving in a new car they had purchased just two weeks before, when they had a head-on collision with a truck on their way to visit Lilly’s cousin, and the godmother of her daughter.

Maybe it was the fact that they were going to visit the baby’s goddaughter, or maybe it was just sheer luck, but James, Lilly, and the baby were fine in the end.

Sure, Lilly is a bit clueless, and a teenage pregnancy is not an ideal situation. But it’s safe to say that this situation is far better than the alternative that could have occurred if the car accident had been of a more serious nature.

9 Caelan's Mom Was A Teen Mom

Caelan and Mom TLC Unexpected

Given that the pattern of teen pregnancies is already prevalent for all three of the girls’ family histories, why shouldn’t it be the same for some of the guys on the show?

This is certainly the case for Caelen, McKayla’s mom, who was born to his own mom Shelley when she was just 19.

Funnily enough, James’s mother Shelly has become somewhat of a villanized person in the television show, mostly due to her constant criticizing of others – especially of McKayla’s mom. Well, it turns out Shelly is not so perfect herself, when it is revealed that she, too was a teen mom.

At this point, we find ourselves thinking: did anyone in this show have a normal, pregnancy-free childhood? It sure doesn’t seem that way.

8 James's Mom Was A Teen Mom

Lilly and James Unexpected TLC

At this point, it will hardly come as a surprise to learn that all but another personality from the show did not have a teenage mother.

Yes, that’s right, Lilly’s boyfriend James was yet another child of a teenage pregnancy. James’s mom, Darlene, first fell pregnant at the ripe age of 15. Throughout her early life, she went on to have a total of 8 children, including James.

Sadly, in James’s situation as well as Caelan’s, both of their dads have been out of the picture for some time. As much as we hope that Caelan and James will not repeat the sins of their fathers, anecdotal and scientific evidence point to the sad fact that if the father bailed, then their son is more likely to be an absent father, too.

7 McKayla's Mom Is Currently Pregnant

McKayla and pregnant Mom Unexpected TLC

As if there weren’t enough pregnancies and hormones on the show with the three teenage girls pregnant, we find out that McKayla’s mom, Shannon, is also pregnant?!

We’re starting to think that maybe getting pregnant is contagious, at the rate this show is going.

When Shannon gives birth, this will be her fourth child!

Although McKayla seems pretty indifferent about the whole thing, Shannon seems to be taking advantage of her and her daughter’s simultaneous pregnancies as a method for bonding with her daughter. In one episode, we witness Shannon suggest to McKayla they have a shower together for their babies. Hmm... An interesting choice, indeed, but who are we to judge?

Clearly, Caelan’s mom Shelly does not feel the same, though, and is very open in her judgment of this idea.

6 McKayla And Caelan's Moms Are Not The Best Of Friends

From what is said in previous entries, you may have already guessed something about TLC’s Unexpected, which is that McKayla’s mom Shannon and Caelan’s mom Shelly are not the best of friends, by any stretch of the imagination.

In fact, despite both mothers having been teenagers at the time of their own pregnancies, Shannon and Shelly seem to prefer to argue than to discover their commonalities.

Shelly seems to have an issue with Shannon because Shannon was absent for such a large part of McKayla’s life. Although this is a legitimate concern and it’s nice to see Shelly being somewhat protective of her son’s partner, we also wonder why Shelly isn’t just supporting Shannon turning over a new leaf and trying to become a better parent, now.

5 McKayla Was Raised By Her Grandparents

McKayla and Grandparents Unexpected TLC

If Shannon was largely absent for most of McKayla’s young life, what was McKayla up to? (Apart from getting pregnant, of course).

McKayla was actually raised by her grandparents as her mom figured out her own personal issues. When McKayla was just four years old, she was put in the custody of her grandparents Tim and Cindy, whom she lived with until just recently, when Shannon came back into McKayla’s life.

You would think that because McKayla was living with her grandparents, she might have grown up with a more stable upbringing, where her grandparents would have had some better education methods for young girls and the risks of getting pregnant.

But it must be pretty difficult to raise a teenage daughter, especially when Tim and Cindy’s own daughter was having her own issues.

4 McKayla’s Mom Has Been Clean For 8 Years

McKayla and Mom Unexpected TLC

McKayla’s family history is pretty complicated, when you think about the fact that she was raised by her grandparents. When you learn why she was raised by her grandparents, though, the plot thickens and we begin to feel more sympathy toward this girl and her family.

After McKayla’s father died, McKayla’s mom, Shannon, became addicted to substances, which resulted in McKayla and her brother going to live with their grandparents.

Since 2009, Shannon has been happily clean, and has in recent years shown an interest in getting involved in McKayla’s life. Although Caelan’s mom Shelly would not succumb to such a sad story, we have mad respect for all of McKayla’s family for suffering through such unimaginable hardships.

3 Lilly Does Not Know What A Zucchini Is

Lilly Unexpected TLC

As already mentioned in a previous entry, Lilly is not exactly the brightest of bulbs. This is highlighted in one case in particular, when it is revealed that this sweet girl does not know what a zucchini is.

Sure, a zucchini is not the most delicious vegetable around, but how do you not know what it is?

Okay, so obviously we are going to give Lilly a break – she is only a young teenager. But we do wonder where Lilly has been her whole life to not have knowledge of a specific vegetable – and one as common as a zucchini!!

The fact that Lilly was unfamiliar with the vegetable does explain a bit more about how she might have gotten pregnant. If Lilly doesn’t know what a zucchini is, what else could she possibly be unfamiliar with?

2 There Are Actual Empowering Moments

Lilly and James TLC Unexpected

Quite possibly one of the highlights of the show is when Lilly reveals to her mother, Kim, that she wants her daughter, Aaliyah Rose, to have her boyfriend James’s last name, and Kim is completely against it.

Although Unexpected is by no means the most feminist or female empowerment show around town, this scene does highlight some serious female empowerment that we don’t often see in the show.

When Kim hears about Lilly planning on having her daughter take James’s last name, she argues with Lilly, explaining that James has not merited having his last name passed down. Until he has showed that he can commit to Lilly and their daughter, then their daughter should not have James’s last name.

Of course, the moment of empowerment ends when Lilly reveals to us that she is already married in her head...

1 It’s Considered Higher Quality Than Teen Mom And 16 And Pregnant

Teen Mom 2 poster

Teen pregnancy reality television shows first became popular thanks to MTV, with their insanely ridiculous shows 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom.

As addictive (and ridiculous) as these shows were, Unexpected has gained popularity for its more tasteful portrayal of teen pregnancies. Where Teen Mom in particular thrived on drama and ridicule, Unexpected does a surprisingly good job depicting teen girls trying to live as normal lives as possible as they try to juggle this huge curveball.

Sure, it’s not as insane as those other shows, but at least from Unexpected we can watch something a bit more real, and learn not only to ridicule these young girls, but to empathize with them.

Unexpected does a pretty good job, too, of highlighting class divides and the importance of education, whereas Teen Mom seemed to ignore these socioeconomic factors and merely capitalize on teenage girls.


Did we miss something about TLC's Unexpected that must be revealed? Let us know in the comments!

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