I don’t really have time to watch actual scheduled TV. In fact, like a true modern-day college kid, I forgot what it was like to have anything other than Netflix. Don’t even get me started on commercials.
But I have this special place in my heart for The Fosters. I’ll brave the commercials for them, which really aren’t that bad considering all ABC Family does is promote their own shows and movies. Anyways, I’ve gotten into the habit of watching it with my girlfriend, even though at the moment we’re many miles apart. We text our surprise, excitement and heartbreak as the episodes play out.
Before new episodes of The Fosters air, new episodes of Switched at Birth come on. My girlfriend likes to watch that as well, and tends to catch the episode before. This week she texted me during Switched at Birth because apparently there was a lesbian couple featured in the episode. My girlfriend encouraged me to watch it because it made a very important statement on how people dress and the things high schoolers go through when it comes to adult standards on appearance and what makes you “normal” or a “freak”.
It was such a good episode that I felt like looking up ABC family to see if they had any other good LGBT representations. There was the obvious, The Fosters, starring some fantastic lesbian moms, a transgendered young man in a group home for girls, and a couple young boys who do not appreciate the use of labels and struggle in the depths of homophobic adults.
There’s also the incredibly popular dark-mystery drama, Pretty Little Liars, which I managed to finally get lost in their tangled web of lies about mid-fourth season. One of the main characters is a lesbian, and they show this teenager’s development as she not only faces a hella-creepy stalker, but finds herself in a relationship with a girl, roughs her way through the struggle of coming out to friends and family, and learns what it’s like to feel free to be who you are. And as an added bonus, afterellen.com writer Heather Hogan created a brilliantly written recap of every episode, which is why I believe I braved the insanity of that show for as long as I did.
I also came to discover that ABC Family’s show Chasing Life not only covers the hardships of cancer that so many people face, but also what it’s like for a young girl to realize that she likes both guys and girls. And it’s so very hard to find positive bisexual representation in the media, especially about those who are trying their hardest to discover what they should do with their lives. While I have not watched the entirety of Chasing Life, after watching one scene of how uniquely the mother handles her daughter’s complete mortification of being caught making out with her secret girlfriend, I’m truly interested to see the rest of the show.
These are not the only shows on ABC Family that have shown representation of the LGBT community. In fact, I don’t think I can come up with a TV show on their network that doesn’t have at least one member of the LGBT community represented in their episodes.
While I am well aware of ABC Family’s addiction to drama can make people (myself included) wish they dialed the notch back a bit so people can go at least one episode without profuse crying, I think what they’re doing as a network to bring regular LGBT characters to the homes of many people is incredibly important. They confront some of the most difficult situations, like parents that struggle with coming to terms with their child’s sexuality, showing that we should not be defined by our gender when it comes to what we’re capable of as individuals, and how hard, harmful, and unwanted labels can be at times.
ABC Family is taking a huge step into media, giving millions of people the chance to see real representation constantly throughout the shows they air. It’s quite encouraging just thinking about it. I hope more and more people come to recognize what a difference they’re making.