What will happen to a young teenage girl when she gets pregnant?
Diablo Cody gives us two outcomes:
- Give the child up for adoption and let her teenage years develop naturally.
- Raise the child herself and get forced into adulthood.
The theme here is represented by both points of view, the author will give us both, and then gives her conclusion.
Juno is a young girl who needs to adopt her baby so she can return to the natural progression of her teenage life.
Bleeker represents this side of the theme, he runs track, goes to the prom and plays his guitar just like every other teenager does. And so do the two kids hanging outside the drugstore, as this is what you do when you are a teenager, along with drinking gallons of Sunny D and owning a Hamburger phone.
But this is then contrasted with Juno smoking a pipe and behaving like an adult while she gives Bleeker the news that’s she pregnant. We then move to the science class scene with two teenagers having an adult domestic type argument.
Both sides of the theme and possible outcome are equally represented here.
At the end of Act 1 Juno tells her parents about the pregnancy and says that she is not sure what kind of girl she is.
Juno is confused and her confusion is represent by a character called ‘Steve the Jock’.
Why? Because Steve thinks he wants Cheerleaders but really wants girls like Juno.
And Juno is the same as she thinks she wants older guys who play in bands, but she really wants geeky guys her same age who run track.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that Juno’s friend Leah is into the older teacher and thinks he’s hot?
This is foreshadowing exactly when Juno is going to have feelings for the older guy.
And then there’s Mark.
He, like Juno, wants to return to his childhood again, play his guitar and live in his bachelor pad.
He doesn’t want the baby so he can be a teenager and Juno wants him to adopt the baby so she can be a teenager.
The most interesting character from a screenwriting perspective though is Vanessa.
Does she not represent Juno’s mother who left to raise a new family somewhere else?
Is this not why Juno is confused and doesn’t have faith in relationships? Is this not the one thing that is stopping her from returning to teenage life?
Once Juno can regain her faith in relationships, she can rebuild things with Bleeker, forgive her mother and give Vanessa the baby.
Need a ticking clock in your script? Juno having a baby works quite well to keep the tension in a slow paced 2nd act.
One thought did occur to me though.
There is only a one line reference to Juno’s mother in the script (in the voiceover in Act one when the rest of her family are being introduced). Is this deliberately down played?
If it was more central (or on the surface) to the story, is there a possibility that it would send out the wrong message, that troubled teenagers whose mothers leave are more likely to get pregnant?