The final season of Secret Life of the American Teenager kicks off tonight, March 18 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family, and Wetpaint Entertainment was lucky enough to chat with Ben’s portrayer Ken Baumann about the show’s incredibly emotional season, and a particularly “powerful” final scene.
Check out part one of our exclusive with Ken below!
Wetpaint Entertainment: What can you tell us about the end of Secret Life?
Ken Baumann: I remember how it ends, but it's hard to look past that ending because that ending will be such a big emotional thing. And the actual filming of that last episode was tough. It's really hard.
Is there still ambiguity between Ben and Shailene's character, Amy?
Yeah. That continues through in the last season, absolutely.
In what way?
Here's the thing. We didn't know it was our last season until close to the end, but it worked out because in the last season you start to see characters who had come back around to each other in a way that feels sort of inevitable. You keep a show going long enough, and if you have a certain amount of characters, certain patterns occur just as in life patterns occur. And we're really bad at changing our little patterns of behavior. I feel like it makes sense how the characters start to loop around and really think about, ‘What do I want, and where do I go from here? School's ending and I get to go be my own adult. So what does that mean?’ So it kind of wrapped up at the right time.
But it's supposed to be Amy and Ricky forever, isn't it?
I know. Well, hey, there's got to be complications, and complications do ensue, absolutely.
Do you remember any of the arcs of the last few episodes?
I do, but I feel like now, more so than ever, I want to not spoil those arcs because, if I spoil these, what kind of actor am I? This is the last time people are going to imbibe this TV without being able to Google it and see what happens before they watch it. I will say that weirdly enough we filmed the final scene of the show as our last scene of the day, on the last day, and the contents of the scene was weird. I am cautious with emotion when I'm reading stuff. I try to be an objective reader, and this is one of the few scenes in the show that when I was reading the script and the last scene hit, it was sort of like that gut drop, because as a scene it serves as the perfect summation to the drama of the last few episodes, and the whole season. It's like a perfect capsule. You get in trouble as a teenager, and you try to fix it. And whether it works or whether it doesn't work, it's sort of the attempt that's important, and that's where the drama is. But it was hard to read. It got me all teary eyed. It was great. The last scene in the show and the lead up to it is really powerful stuff. Man, it's not going to be an easy one for people to watch. It's happy. It's sad. It's weird. It's like it's not failure. It's not success. It's nice. It’s nice, ambiguous and final.
You guys spent a lot of years together making a lot of television.
Yeah. We sort of grew up together. It's so morbid, but when the show did end, I remember talking to everybody and being like, “Well, if we had gone ten years, the downside is that we would have seen crew members die.” Or maybe cast members. Somebody would have died, and it would have been bad. So we got out now and most people stuck with us. No outright health problems. I was the closest one to die in the bunch. I took the responsibility and got away.
Are you okay now?
I'm fine now. Now I have a disease, and I'm got to deal with it for the rest of my life. But it was quite something.
Was it something that came as a surprise?
It was. I was in pain for months and then later, for about a week, I was running a 104 fever every night and developed a severe limp and was in excruciating pain. I went to the ER, and I had an abscess. They're a rare complication of Crohn’s disease and if they burst there is like a 90 percent fatality rate. I was a couple days away from it bursting. So I got two major abdominal surgeries within the span of two weeks. I was in the hospital for twelve days, and I spent a month at home recovering, relearning how to walk. My wife had to basically carry me around the house. I was almost completely helpless for a month, and then I went back to work.
At least you know the whole for better or for worse thing is real.
Exactly — and this was two months before we were supposed to get married, too. Now, we feel kind of lucky. It's like, ‘Wow, we got to face that.’ We know what that is so when it comes down the line, we'll have a little bit more experience. We won't be afraid of it. It will still suck, but we're not going to be afraid of it the next time around which is good.