The Bristol Palin / 'Glee' Approach to Teen Pregnancy


Palin has more in common with the character Quinn Fabray than either might care to admit

Palin Glee.jpg

AP Images, Fox

Bristol Palin and Quinn Fabray: One is the real-life daughter of Sarah Palin; the other is a fictional character on Glee—a TV show created by a harsh critic of the former vice presidential candidate. But the two have more in common than either might care to admit: They're both young women who became pregnant in high school, and both subsequently followed similar paths. Here, a look at the way Palin's and Quinn's storylines have overlapped:

Become pregnant

Both girls are attractive, small-town high schoolers from conservative families (Quinn's dad is a Glenn Beck fanatic; Palin's conservative roots are obvious) who become pregnant as teenagers: Palin in 2008, Quinn the following year, when Glee premiered in spring 2009.

Blame it on wine coolers

Palin and Quinn use a similar story to explain why they abandoned abstinence: They each overdid it on wine coolers. ABC news reports today that in her upcoming memoir, Palin writes that she had too many fruity drinks on the night she lost her virginity: "Palin was drunk on wine coolers when she lost her virginity to Johnston while camping. She writes that she 'didn't know that girly flavored wine coolers were just as likely to get you drunk as the hard stuff.'" Quinn tells a similar story about her first time: She tells the father of her child in a fall 2009 episode, "I had sex with you because you got me drunk on wine coolers and I felt fat that day. But it was a mistake."

Recommit to abstinence

Both girls decided to recommit to chastity after giving birth. In 2009, Palin became a spokesperson for the Candie's Foundation, an organization that tries to prevent teen pregnancy, while Quinn refused to have sex with her boyfriend Sam in an episode that aired in fall 2010.

Break up with the baby's father

Neither Palin nor Quinn is still involved with the man who got her pregnant. Palin and Levi Johnston had an on-again, off-again relationship that included two engagements before they ended things for good last August. Quinn also tried to make things work with Puck, the father of her child, but eventually broke up with him and started relationships with other members of the glee club.

Regain reputation through competitive performing arts

Palin and Quinn adopted similar strategies for bouncing back after their pregnancies: Palin joined the cast of Dancing with the Stars last fall. Similarly, Quinn started devoting her time to performing in the glee club and to regaining her spot on the ultra-exclusive cheerleading squad, the Cheerios, soon after she became pregnant in season one.

Pick a public catfight

Both girls have started spats with other high-profile females. Palin's target is Meghan McCain, daughter of her mother's 2008 running mate, John McCain. Palin writes in her memoir: "Every time we saw Meghan, she seemed to be constantly checking us out, comparing my family to hers and complaining. Oh the complaining." Quinn has been doing the same since Glee began, continually torturing her glee club rival, Rachel Berry.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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