Latina/o representation on teen-oriented television : marketing to a new kind of family

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2013-12

Authors

Hochhalter, Johannah Maria

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Abstract

The ABC Family cable network has become a leader in television for the millennial audience through a strategy of increased diversity on screen and an emphasis on complexity in family life. These goals have both been aided by representing Latina/o characters in the network’s flagship series: The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth, and The Fosters. In this thesis I engage in industrial, textual, and discourse analysis of these series, finding that Latina/o representation is increasing in both quantity and quality as network executives and producers attempt to appeal to the ethnically diverse millennial generation. These attempts, however, are not perfect. This project pinpoints a span of time in which ABC Family shifts towards more Latina/o inclusion both on-screen and behind the camera. At the same time, ABC Family programming dominates ratings in its key millennial demographic, indicating a correlation (of undetermined causation) between increased Latina/o representation and ratings.

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