“Becoming Us” Summer TV Review

BECOMING US - ABC Family's "Becoming Us" stars Suzy, Ben and Carly. (ABC Family/Jean Whiteside)
BECOMING US – ABC Family’s “Becoming Us” stars Suzy, Ben and Carly. (ABC Family/Jean Whiteside)

If you watched the Bruce Jenner interview on 20/20 a few weeks ago, you probably saw a trailer for this new docu-drama series coming to ABC Family. Becoming Us follows the life of Ben, a teenager living in Illinois, who’s dad is now Carly, a proud transgender woman. Ben is dating Danielle, a senior who’s about to graduate high school who also has a dad who’s transitioned into being a woman. The show follows Ben, Danielle, and their family and friends as they live their lives with a transgender family member.

At first watch, there was a clear amount of pros and cons about the series. The show is shot in the docu-drama style, and produced by Ryan Seacrest, so it becomes the phenomenon of knowing some of these situations are created and a large amount of lines are scripted, and painfully sitting through both. Some of these people cannot read a scripted line or be in a set-up situation to save their lives. It’s not their fault, it isn’t their profession. Still, it is rough. Add on top of that a weird social media framing device, where various status updates help start a scene, and all confessional interviews are viewed as if on Facebook. The opening credits are done as a “Draw My Life” YouTube video. It doesn’t work and comes off as cheesy.

On the plus side, Carly rocks. She is the bomb-diggity. She is incredibly strong, especially when dealing with hesitancy from family members. The girl can also act, which makes any situation she’s in feel real, and not like someone pointing a camera in her face said “ACTION!” Danielle also has a really moving conversation with her dad, discussing how she hates the judgement she gets, which brings her, and the viewing public, to tears. Ben’s older sister does a great job becoming completely comfortable on camera, while Ben’s friend Lathan brings some thought-provoking ideas and comments to the table that are great for the viewer to think about and further research.

The biggest issue, right out of the gate, is Ben. I realize the show will also show his progression, but at the moment, he comes off as a brat. He is off-putting to the nth degree. Constant sighing and eyerolling towards Carly, his mom, and anyone who has a pulse, makes you immediately hate him. He’s the main character, and I can’t stand him. The preview for future episodes makes me think he will change, but at the moment, it’s ticking me off.

Becoming Us┬ápremieres Monday June 8th at 9pm EST on ABC Family. I would definitely suggest giving the pilot a look and seeing if it’s your sort of thing. I usually don’t care for this genre, but Carly is so darn rad, that I may have to tune in for more, especially since this show is so important for a multitude of reasons.