TV Shows: Easy as ABC


ABC is a network known for their comedic and relatable family shows meant for all generations to enjoy. However, just how many family shows does ABC have? Since 2009, ABC has recycled the “original family” concept seven times. This formula basically goes like this:  [Mom and dad] + [3 or 4 kids] + [suburbs] + [ethnic or religious or time period difference to make it seem original] = Hit Show!

It all started with the hit show Modern Family, which premiered in 2009, ignited this “American Television Revolution” and ultimately now serves as the basis for the rest of ABC’s family line-up, which goes something like this:

Blackish: Black Modern Family

Fresh off the Boat: Asian Modern Family

The Middle: Modern Family with poorer, less attractive family members

The Goldbergs: Jewish Modern Family (but in the 80s so it’s original!)

And  so on.

It seems as if ABC is surveying each family show’s rating in order to observe which family brings in the most views, especially comparing it to Modern Family. Modern Family currently holds the title for ABC as its top rated TV series, possibly because this show holds the most diversity with an ethnic mixed family (Jay and Gloria Pritchett) and a gay family with an adopted Vietnamese daughter (Cameron, Mitchell and daughter Lily).

Most of ABC’s shows contain typical and traditional family issues. In fact, real and controversial issues are rarely shown (though, to be fair, a recent Blackish episode did tackle “Black Lives Matter” and the recent spate of police violence against African Americans). This sense of a “superficial reality” that is portrayed in all of ABC’s shows may be the cause for the loss in ratings and reason for an audience’s boredom with the family show formula.

Of course network TV is limited in what it can show, unlike racier HBO or Netflix shows, however this restriction from portraying real family issues is ultimately the cause of this unoriginal recycled family formula. It may also be the reason for ABC’s different racial family shows.

It is no doubt that network TV is dying compared to online streaming of tv shows from Netflix, Hulu, or HBO. With no limitations or barriers, audiences are able to be more entertained and feel more related to the online program due to its specificity and realness with certain subjects.

It is unfortunate that we are all aware of the downward spiral network TV seems to be encountering and have no commitment or desire to save it. However, unless there is a drastic change in TV and its rules about what it can show during prime time, the recycled shows, especially ABC’s, will be on re-runs for every generation to enjoy and memorize.