ABC Family Launches Becoming Us, an Unscripted Series About Transgender Dad and Family
Another cable network is looking to capitalize on the public’s interest in the transgender community by airing a real-life version of the Amazon dramaTransparent.
This summer, ABC Family will premiere Becoming Us, an unscripted show that chronicles the life of 17-year-old Ben Lehwald of Evanston, Illinois, as his father Charlie transitions to become Carly.
The docuseries from Ryan Seacrest Productions will take Ben’s perspective as he watches his dad divorce his mom, Suzy, before undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
The series will also focus on Ben’s girlfriend Danielle, whose dad is also transitioning into a woman.
“I want to be able to provide guidance for kids who are going through it,” Ben tells PEOPLE. “Maybe this will help them being able to deal with it.”
“This story in particular is really specific and beautiful, and we loved that it’s from the point of view of this teen boy just trying to figure it out,” says Karey Burke, the network’s executive vice president of programming and development. “The journey of acceptance is utterly authentic. Our network has a history and certain currency not being afraid of shows that tackle social issues, that shed light on current affairs. So it’s really in our DNA to be exploring these kind of stories.”
Before Becoming Us debuts, Discovery Life will introduce New Girls on the Block on April 11. The unscripted series will follow eight people, six of whom are transgender women. Also this summer, TLC will unveil All That Jazz, a show focusing on 14-year-old transgender activist Jazz Jennings.
Meanwhile, it’s not clear whether E! will air a new reality series that chronicles Olympian Bruce Jenner’s transition into a woman. A source told PEOPLE earlier this month that production was halted because Jenner isn’t certain the production company, Bunim/Murray, is the right fit.
“Bruce’s primary goal is to bring awareness to this issue in order to help others [in the transgender community],” says the source, who has knowledge of the situation, which TMZ was first to report. “He is not sure that E! and a reality show is the best format to do that.”
Becoming Us premieres on June 8 at 9 p.m. ET.