When Pat Robertson sold his “Family Channel” to Disney with the stipulation that the word “family” never leave the channel’s title, he probably wasn’t thinking families would include pregnant teens and lesbian foster couples. But that’s exactly what Disney’s ABC Family channel holds up as “A new kind of family.”
This summer, ABC Family will premiere “The Fosters,” which is a “one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms” according to the network. This exquisitely PC concept was created by Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige, the creators and writers for the vulgar gay drama “Queer As Folk.”
Another gay family show is just what America needs because “Modern Family” and “The New Normal” aren’t enough apparently to represent the overwhelming one percent of Americans who live in same-sex couple households.
Still, this show will fit right in with the network’s sex-obsessed lineup. Popular programs on the channel include “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” which feature teen sex, pregnancy and same-sex relationships. “Liars” star Ashley Benson was featured in Seventeen Magazine this month and interviewed for her role in the newly released “Spring Breakers,” which features a threesome sex tryst with James Franco and former Disney star Vanessa Hudgens. She is clearly a great role model for ABC Family’s young adult audience.
ABC Family has come a long way from the original intent of Robertson’s network, which aimed to spread the Gospel with Bible-themed programming. With the takeover of Disney in 2001, the network has evolved into a poster child for gay activism.
This year 34 percent of it’s programming promotes LGBT issues, surprisingly down from last year’s high numbers of over half of the programming covering gay and lesbian issues. Both numbers are disproportionately high compared to the actual number of people who self-identify as gay (just 2-4 percent). This over-representation on television shows has affected young people’s perception of the gay population as well.
While there’s little room for actual families at ABC Family, gay activists feel right at home.
In 2011, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced that ABC Family was the most pro-homosexual network of the ten networks it reported on. Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd acknowledged, "networks have dramatically increased the number of gay portrayals in recent years." This is important because entertainment media significantly influences public policy. As GLAAD even noted, "Of the 19 percent who reported that their feelings toward gay and lesbian people have become more favorable over the past 5 years, 34 percent cited 'seeing gay or lesbian characters on television' as a contributing factor.”
These favorable feelings don’t just stay personal either; they trickle down into political advocacy. According to the same Gallup poll, these numbers mirror the public support for redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships. Gallup polled U.S. acceptance of gay relationships as “the new normal” at 56 percent in 2011 and 54 percent in 2012. Compare this number to the data from 10 years ago which revealed just 38 percent of Americans approved, and it’s easy to see how media powerfully influences what people think.
To paraphrase the theologian Francis Schaeffer, “What was unthinkable yesterday, is possible today, and normal tomorrow.” And it will come at the expense of the Families Disney’s network are named for.