ABC Family is Ruining My Life.

Hi, my name is Katie, and I’ve been watching programming on ABC Family for about six years now. I know there’s a stigma about being a self-respecting woman who watches completely unrealistic teen programming, but I wanted to share the story of my shame spiral for all those out there who may be grappling with the same struggle.

My last exposure was few nights ago, when the season finale of the series Pretty Little Liars left me shaking on the couch desperate for another hour-long fix of foreboding music and pained glances between characters that last just a few moments longer than necessary. I know that I’m causing people who appreciate meaningful television a lot of pain, but I just can’t find the strength to change the channel. I’m hooked.

The best Pretty Little Liars tumblr there ever was, Emotionally Conflicted Emily

The best Pretty Little Liars tumblr there ever was, Emotionally Conflicted Emily

I should have heeded the warnings about exposure to ABC Family…

  • TRY ONE ORIGINAL MOVIE AND YOU’LL BE HELPLESSLY DEPENDENT! Mean Girls 2? That doesn’t sound horribly awful…
  • The farfetched story lines will start to seem plausible. A federal agent eating lunch with some high school girls while questioning them about a homicide without their parents present? Could totes happen in real life…
  • Beware 13 Nights of Halloween and 25 Days of Christmas. Go to a Halloween party? But Matilda is going to be on tonight… Mistletoe? Not now–Home Alone is on.
  • If you start watching Harry Potter weekend, you will not be able to stop before it’s too late. On my most recent wizardry bender, I snapped out of it 10 hours later, and all I remembered was deciding  my half empty bag of Doritos could be one of my Horcruxes…

♦♦♦

It all started with The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Considering my high school life consisted of a brief stint as an Ecology Club member, dressing up in Civil War-era clothing for AP U.S. History, and forging service hours for National Honors Society, I was curious about this so-called “secret life” I no doubt missed out on. I found out that ABC Family’s idea of teenager’s “secret life” consists of pregnancy, marriage (and divorce), being the heir to a sausage empire, and most unbelievably, genuinely loving to play the French horn. …I was just hoping to learn how to play beer pong.

I had my moments of doubt, like when the “sausage king” married the same prostitute who another character propositioned in a previous episode–but there were glimpses of hope, too! Molly Ringwald was okay in the 80s. The show’s producer was the genius behind 7th Heaven! Shailene Woodley was nominated for a Golden Globe! So what the show was in development for ten years before ABC Family finally decided adding it to their roster couldn’t do any harm–that just means they had a decade to make it perfect!

What was I thinking?

During every commercial, when I came this close to salvaging what’s left of my dignity and swearing off that insultingly unbelievable network, I’d see a commercial for the latest and greatest ABC Family series.

Pretty Little Liars enticed me with its girl crush-inducing cast and the swoon-worthy Ezra Fitz. Switched at Birth features an actress who isn’t deaf playing a character who is, and somehow that’s been enough to manipulate me into suspending my sense of logic enough to believe two families whose daughters were switched at birth could decide to move in together. Then there was Huge—a show about a fat camp starring Nikki Blonksy; need I elaborate? I watched a few episodes of Melissa & Joey in a desperate attempt to rekindle a love for Melissa Joan Hart that started in the Sabrina the Teenage Witch era (but even with his hair, Joey Lawrence is no Salem).

It was a slippery slope to a DVR full of shows and movies whose only critical acclaim would come only from the Teen Choice Awards.

Even though I know I have a problem, I don’t think I’m ready to change. I need to find out just what the fuck is going on in Pretty Little Liars, first. I’ve never once watched an episode of Bunheads, which should show you I’m totally in control of this habit.

Besides, ABC Family has this new show starting soon called Ravenswood, and maybe this is going to be the series that gives Mad Men a run for its money! Judging by the commercial, something mysterious is going on!

I mean. I’ll probably just watch an episode or two to see if I like it…

There are 46 comments

  1. Lesley @ Ramblin Bamblins

    I don’t get the ABC family channel which kind of makes me happy now, because I have been sucked into a lot of TLC shows (Honey Boo Boo, Sister Wives) that are so bad, but I just can’t pull my eyes away. I balance that with Saved by the Bell and Full House reruns, it really just helps round out my whole TV life.

  2. javaj240

    My daughter watches all of the ABC Family shows — as a result, so do I. Pretty Little Liars is my secret indulgence — shhhh! don’t tell anyone!

  3. Sreejit Poole

    I probably shouldn’t admit this on the internet, but where I live (expat in an ashram in India) there’s no TV and a friend brought me Glee on a pin drive and I watched all 4 seasons and was so hooked that I started from the beginning and watched them all over again, wouldn’t be so bad except that I used to be a tough guy and I’m one year away from being 40. ouch, it hurts much more to write that than to think it… shoot if this is way too disturbing then just press delete

    1. Katie

      HA!!! I love Glee. The last season has been my least favorite so far, but I’m not ready to give up on it yet. There’s nothing wrong with loving it! Be proud!

      There’s no demographic for Glee. I think we all like the idea of spontaneous musical numbers happening in real life. That’s the real appeal.

  4. Katie

    I can’t stop watching anything on TLC or E!. If there is a nonconformist romance or Kardashian involved I am compelled to watch it. Hoarding? My bread and butter. Medical oddities? Count me in. Emmy winning actors? Mmmm maybe not.

    1. Katie

      Oh my gosh, what happened to Hoarder marathon Fridays on Lifetime, that’s what I need to know. That was the highlight of my week. Bitchy Dr. Zasio was the best.

      I’m a Kardashian fan, too. It sucks you in. Especially their home design.

  5. Stephanie

    Oh god. I discovered Pretty Little Liars on Netflix a few weeks ago while going through a Vampire Diaries withdrawal. It’s so bad but SO addictive! I just want to know what’s going on! And I heard they are probably going to sign on for a season six, so I clearly won’t know what’s going on for a while. Here’s my prediction for endgame: Every single person in Rosewood besides those 4 girls is A. It’s a big big conspiracy meant to get more clients for Radley.

    1. Katie

      I KNOW. I totally understand. Ridiculous things will be happening, and there’s this tiny voice saying, “Katie, surely you can’t buy into this,” but I can! And I do!

      HA! At this point, nothing would surprise me. After the most recent season finale, I have no idea how or what the hell is happening.

      What I do know, is that by all appearances that grill and the coffee house are the only businesses in Rosewood.

      1. Katie

        I really think they need to rename that channel, because it’s definitely teenagers and people in their 20s who are the primary audience.

    1. Katie

      Really? I was intrigued because The Fosters has that one girl from Secret Life, but I actually haven’t seen that… Yet. I also loved The Lying Game.

      But Bunheads is where I draw the line.

  6. bensbitterblog

    Sadly, I know some of what you are talking about. I blame my wife. She records Switched at Birth. My favorite part of that show is when I am ignoring it like I always do by blogging and the TV goes silent. Then I know it is a “signing” scene and the only thing I can hear are my kids screaming at each other.

    1. Katie

      Those parts annoy me. I don’t like reading my television.

      But seriously, that actress that plays Daphne? Major props. I had no idea she wasn’t actually deaf.

    1. Katie

      How is it?!

      I’ve seen the commercials, and I’ve been like, “A killer? Now that’s just ridiculous!” But I mean, I’m pretty open-minded with that channel…

      1. Pandora Viltis

        I must like it ease I keep watching. :/

        I need to figure out what made Danny kill his aunt at age 11 years old! It does seem crazy, which is why I’ve gotta know! They’d better make it juicy and not completely ridiculous.

  7. NotAPunkRocker

    25 Days of Christmas used to be so great because they would show the stop-motion Rankin-Bass specials (Rudolph, the one with the Heatmeiser, the one with the whiney Baby New Year, that other one) on different nights. We would pop popcorn and watch them like we were on Mystery Science Theater. Then they started airing those in the day…ruining my holiday tradition. Now I only get sucked in during Harry Potter marathons.

    1. Katie

      HA! Wait, are those the ones with the weird animation-like puppets?

      I try to avoid the commercials on that channel, because I know if I see one for Harry Potter weekend, my whole weekend is shot. I just HAVE to watch them all. Twice. Even though I own a few of them on DVD–it’s different watching it on ABC Family’s Harry Potter Weekend.

      1. NotAPunkRocker

        Yes, exactly those! Endearing yet so mockable. Actually, only Rudolph is endearing…somewhat…the rest are very mockable.

        Of course their Harry Potter weekends are different, they show the deleted scenes AS THEY HAPPEN.

        Sorry, I had to share my ABC Family enthusiasm for a minute there. Don’t tell anyone, but my teenage son may have been hooked on watching “7th Heaven” everyday after school when it came on there. :-)

  8. kelloggs77

    My only real exposure to these shows is when Joel McHale makes fun of them on The Soup…but I don’t judge. I can understand how they would be addicting. After all, I was a grown woman who faithfully watched “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills.” And now I secretly want to buy something from LC’s clothing line whenever I go to Kohls.

  9. tundrawoman

    Aw Katie, you go on and watch what ever you want. It’s your TV and your home and one of the perks of bein’ a “groan up” is indulging yourself in what ever way you wish-as long as it’s not infringing on anyone else. So enjoy yourself and screw the PC-ers.
    I don’t have a TV anymore. Well, actually, I DO but that’s until I can foist it off on another of my antique friends. This was not some sort of “Political Statement” or “Boycotting Crappy Programming:” uh uh. I’m just not that “evolved.” But I’m practical-not to mention poor. And because I live in gawd and a good road map area (No Country For Old Women-so why am I here?!) my Dish didn’t work unless it was sunny and 70. HAHAHAAA! Almost as likely as ever having cable access. About 2 weeks ago I spent a week with my BFF, another antique. She has cable and it seems to work with spectacular frequency. “Honey Boo Boo” came on. I immediately offered her my large flat screen, free. She’s still mulling it over in case I “might want it back.” (All these decades later and I’ve never rescinded an offer-I guess I should be “hurt,” huh?)
    So please keep watching and writing-you’re my best hope for keeping up with the Kar-Cash-ians! ;)
    TW
    PS: What’s “Bunheads?” I thought it was my hairstyle on those days when my hands are on strike and won’t braid…I don’t wear it down in public-ever. Even on Halloween.

    1. Katie

      Melissa and Joey let me down. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t get into it.

      I liked Switched at Birth, but I’m way behind on it now. Pretty Little Liars is my real obsession. The curiosity is how it starts…

  10. amylkis

    I watched the first season of Secret Life of the American Teenager and then I got lost with all the poor acting. Lol. I LOVE Switched at Birth though. I can’t get enough even though now its getting a little ridiculous with the scenario. Also the actress that plays Daphne is hard of hearing not deaf, in the deaf community most people don’t like the way she signs because she did not grow up deaf. I’m obsessed with ASL so I started watching it. I love Bay even with all her drama

    However, I think ABC Family should have just made an executive decision to cut off these shows after one or two seasons. I think the quality has only gone down. Ugh oh well.

    Bunheads is ridiculously awesome. Did you watch Gilmore Girls? I’m addicted to both. Bunheads has most of the original people from GG and has the same witty sarcastic banter that I ADORE! You should definitely check it out, its very similar to your witty style of writing!

  11. Khands

    I know I’m very late in reading this post (since it’s 2014 and all) but I am so very glad that I found your blog. You’re a goddess of sass and sarcasm. I love it. But the main reason I’m writing you is because I saw your mention of Ravenswood and I just wanted to know your thoughts on it. I am also a huge PLL fan and so I thought the spin-off would be great. It was complete and utter shit and I nearly screamed about double rainbows when I heard it was cancelled.

    1. Katie

      Thank you! And regarding Ravenswood, I wanted to watch it, but I never did–and now part of me is glad. It’s already cancelled?! My friend and I were talking about how we never like spin-off shows (like the Originals to Vampire Diaries–but I’m waaay behind on VD).

      Does this mean Caleb can come back to PLL? Because that would be amazing. I love PLL, but I also love to mock the bad decisions of everyone on that show. That’s half the entertainment value right there.

      1. Katie

        I never like spin-offs either. However, The Originals is actually really well done and I am throughout enjoying it. And another spin-off success has been Chicago PD to Chicago Fire. Very good turn out. But Ravenswood just didn’t cut it. I was disappointed but also very glad. I’m actually writing a post ranting about Ravenswood right now.

        I don’t know if Caleb is returning to PLL or not. Fingers crossed that he does. I was so sad when he left.

        And I too, love to mock some of the terrible decisions that those characters make. It’s what keeps me watching.
        :D

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