ABC Family to Freeform TV

Essays on the Millennial-Focused Network and Its Programs


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About the Book

Launched in 1977 by the Christian Broadcasting Service (originally associated with Pat Robertson), the ABC Family/Freeform network has gone through a number of changes in name and ownership. Over the past decade, the network—now owned by Disney—has redefined “family programming” for its targeted 14- to 34-year-old demographic, addressing topics like lesbian and gay parenting, postfeminism and changing perceptions of women, the issue of race in the U.S., and the status of disability in American culture.
This collection of new essays examines the network from a variety of perspectives, with a focus on inclusive programming that has created a space for underrepresented communities like transgender youth, overweight teens, and the deaf.

About the Author(s)

Emily L. Newman is associate professor of art history at Texas A&M University–Commerce, specializing in contemporary art, popular culture, and gender studies. She lives in McKinney, Texas.

Emily Witsell is research librarian and coordinator of reference and instruction at Wofford College. She lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Emily L. Newman and Emily Witsell

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6735-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3216-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction (Emily L. Newman and Emily Witsell) 1

TV, Social Media and Fandom
Defining Success in the Era of Peak TV: A Case Study of The Nine Lives of Chloe King on ABC Family and Shadowhunters on Freeform (Joe Lipsett) 15
“Someone was watching us”: Surveillance and Spectatorship in Pretty Little Liars (Cara Dickason) 33
Forever Young: Youth Fetishism in the Shadowhunters Universe (Stephen P. Smyth) 49

Today’s Feminisms
Pretty Little Feminist Friendships: Pretty Little Liars’ Role in Deconstructing the Mean Girl Myth While Supporting Sisterhood (Erica Lange) 67
Negotiating Creative Feminine Labor on Family Television: Are Jane by Design and Bunheads Riding a New Feminist Wave? (Jessica Ford) 84
How to Make It or Break It: Empowering Girls in a ­Neo-Feminist Era (Madeline Rislow and Anne Dotter) 99

A New Kind of Family
“We are definitely not the Brady Bunch”: An Analysis of Queer Parenting in the Teen Family Drama The Fosters (Stephanie L. Young and Nikki Jo McCrady) 117
“Puerto Rican and redheaded!?” Constructions of Race, Ethnicity and Identity on Switched at Birth (Donica ­O’Malley) 139
A Different Kind of Foster Family: Portrayals of Teen Foster Care on Freeform (Patrice A. Oppliger and Mel Medeiros) 156

Identity Issues and “Becomer” TV
Deaf Cultural Values in Switched at Birth (Sharon L. Pajka) 177
Models and Misbehavior: ABC Family’s Portrayals of Sexual Health Topics (Malynnda A. Johnson and Kathleen M. Turner) 194
“You did this to yourself!” Evaluating the Construction of the Fat Teenager in Huge (Andi McClanahan) 214
“Deaf is not a bad word”: The Positive Construction of Disability in Switched at Birth (Anelise Farris) 231

Bibliography 249
About the Contributors 253
Index 257