By Laura Medina
What used to be exclusively "documentary" on PBS is now prime time on ABC Family, thanks to Ryan Seacrest.
It was a coincidence that ABC Family's new reality show, "Becoming Us" (debuting this Monday on June 8th at 9pm), coincides with Caitlyn Jenner coming out Vanity Fair issue, hitting the news stand, the next day on Tuesday, June 9th.
This coming-of-age, reality "docu-dramedy" centers around Ben.
This isn't your routine teenage angst but dual coming-of-age, Ben's father is a transgendered woman name, Carly, who used to be a man named Charlie. Who is now divorced from Ben's mother, Suzy, who is not crazy about this about this at all. Suzy criticized this couldn't come at the worst time, when Ben is undergoing adolescence himself. She truly wished that Charlie the man would wait to be Carly the woman when Ben fully reached adulthood but Carly couldn't wait any longer.
"The same time I'm becoming a man is the same time he's becoming a woman," that's not only Ben's and Carly's journey but who would had known there's another family who's also undergoing the same journey, Danielle and Sally.
Danielle is Ben's girlfriend and Sally's daughter. Sally also used to be Danielle's father, Dan. Now, he is a she named Sally.
At the exclusive ABC Family premiere, Sally Dan exclaimed who would had thought the possibility of two teens, both with fathers who transgendered into women.
Carly and Sally may be both be women but they're still parents with fathers' heart and parental concern of tough love.
Through-out the pilot, it's peppered with typical parental worry over Ben's slacker attitude towards high school. Despite being Carly the woman, she is still Charlie the father dispensing tough love towards the conflicted and reluctant Ben.
It's also deals with when a parent transitions into another gender and how it affects marriage/divorce, spouse as a friend, and having two mothers. During the premiere, Sally Dan commented something, like this, usually rips families apart but in the show, it brings families together.
Glad that Ben got a support group of slightly older, understanding friends in their twenties to help him cope with adolescence and having a parent crossing over into the opposite gender.
Danielle, Ben's Girlfriend & Sally, Danielle's father.
Ben also gets mutual emotional support from his girlfriend, Danielle, a daughter of a transgendered woman, Sally, who used to be Dan.
In the poignant kitchen scene, Sally still dole out fatherly/parental advice when she tried to teach Danielle how to properly peel a potato. In this intense, heart-felt conversation, Danielle wants Sally to hook up with Carly, fellow transgendered woman and Ben's father, in bra shopping. This is when Sally opened up about the difficulties in shopping for lingerie in a transgendered body. Even though Sally credited Danielle for being smarter than she thinks she is, Sally critiqued that she can't still peel a potato.
Danielle commented it's like having your father undergo puberty as he becomes a woman, the same time you are, which brings us to something hilarious and funny...
Scene when Ben and Danielle accompany their transgendered fathers, Carly and Sally, to the lingerie boutique.
Yes, it was an hilarious awkward moment when the more-at-ease Carly coaches the more-awkward Sally in the finer points of fitting and buying bras as their children sit by the sidelines.
Sutton, Ben's older sister, throws a monkey wrench when she travels back home to announce she's getting married. The same time a cringing Ben watches his dad trying on bras, Sutton and their mom, Suzy, are shopping for bridal gowns.
Sutton's upcoming nuptials brings another issue. Where will Carly fit in at the wedding? Will Carly walk Sutton down the aisle as a non-traditional father or will she be invited at all?
These are the "realities" for transgendered parents. Sally, "I wouldn't wish gender conflict on anybody. It's a nightmare. Try to stand in front of mirror and try to picture yourself in the opposite body. It's not an hobby being who I am. It's reality."
During the post-screening Questions & Answers session, Sally commented yes, we want to shine a light on this to let others know that they are not alone in this quest but we do not to exploit it nor make this a light-hearted trend. It is about tolerance.
The cliffhanger that keeps the viewer hanging on is when Ben got gobsmacked when his father, Carly, informed him that he will undergo gender reassignment. A shell-shocked Ben exclaimed that the very thing that made him and made his father a father, is going away. Like in the beginning of this episode, Ben's father is becoming a woman the same time Ben is becoming a man. A transition it is.
Will Carly successfully cross-over completely into becoming a woman?
You just have to find out when "Becoming Us" formally airs on Mondays at 9pm on the ABC Family Network, starting this June 8th.