I've never acted my age. When I was eight, I cleaned my room for fun. Now that I’m 23, I sleep in an unkempt room with a Harry Styles cardboard cutout watching over me. uhm... This may not be normal behavior, but I am a firm believer in doing whatever makes me happy, no matter what. One thing that happens to make me really happy is television. I love most of the typical, “critically acclaimed” shows, but I also have a soft spot for TV made for children. My heart used to lie in new episodes of iCarly (R.I.P.) and Disney Channel original movies, but I have recently moved on to ABC Family. Here are four reasons why you should take a break from binge-watching Breaking Bad, and watch some family programming with me.
Young Talent – It is a common misconception that ABC Family programming is “cheesy.” I’m not necessarily disagreeing (the dialogue on Secret Life of the American Teenager was a drinking game waiting to happen), but the acting tends to make up for it. On Twisted, former Nickelodeon star Avan Jogia plays a teenager that comes home after spending five years juvenile hall for killing his aunt and is quickly accused by the wary townspeople of also murdering the most popular girl at the local high school. While these obvious character flaws may seem like a total deal breaker, Jogia is just so charismatic in his roll as Danny Desai that you can’t help but sympathize with him. I don’t know what kind of secrets he is hiding in his beautiful man bun, but all I want to do is keep watching until I find out.
Music – I have a hard time hating any television show that uses music properly. If the use of a song in an episode can lead me to purchase an album or cry until there is mascara all over my bedroom walls (I blame the season three finale of The O.C.), the music supervisor has done their job correctly. One ABC Family show that has consistently used music to its advantage is Pretty Little Liars. While it may not cause me to involuntarily paint my walls black with my tears, it always impresses me. In season three, “Salty Sweet” by MS MR was used four months before the track was released on their debut album, Secondhand Rapture. This forward thinking has even helped showcase music by lesser-known bands, including Boston-based band Gentlemen Hall. The use of music on these shows may not be “revolutionary,” but it’s definitely worth noting.
Mystery – Not all ABC Family shows last very long (R.I.P. Jane By Design and The Lying Game), but the ones that tend to last are the ones that keep us guessing. Not only is Pretty Little Liars one of the most talked about shows on the network, but it is also the most scandalous. The writers always keep us questioning everything and everyone (Who is A? Is Ali really dead? Why is Aria’s skirt made of ties?), and there is rarely a moment when we are not actively looking for clues. It may seem silly to be so invested in the lives of these fictional teenage girls, but it is always fun trying to figure out what is going to happen next.
Tough Issues/Diversity – As obnoxious and repetitive as it may seem at times, ABC Family’s slogan, “a new kind of family,” is the truth. Television is often used as an escape from reality, but sometimes the best shows are the ones that tackle some of the tough issues that real people deal with. On The Fosters, one of the network’s best new shows, the main cast of characters consists of a lesbian couple (a white police officer and a black vice-principal), a biological son, and four fostered children (Hispanic and white). If the diversity isn’t enough to interest you, the plot often touches on issues such as alcoholism/drug use, sexual abuse, religion and sexuality. These topics may be heavy at times, but it is hard to deny just how special The Fosters really is. If anything, The Fosters further proves my point that family programming is not always “dumbed down” for a younger audience. It exists to entertain and to teach, and people of all ages and all backgrounds can benefit from that.
I know it is impossible to convince every 20-something to watch all that ABC Family has to offer, but I hope that this will at least persuade some of you to tune in. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite show (or guilty pleasure), and we can laugh all about it on Twitter one of these days.
I definitely agree with the diversity thing. I don't watch The Fosters but Twisted is really, really diverse and aside from Avan, it's one of the things that drew me to the show