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GAF CEO Unconvincingly Backtracks On Candace Cameron Bure's 'Traditional Marriage' Remarks

GAF CEO Unconvincingly Backtracks On Candace Cameron Bure's 'Traditional Marriage' Remarks

Candace Cameron Bure

Honestly, this is just embarrassing. They should be embarrassed.


Great American Family CEO Bill Abbott is addressing the backlash from Candace Cameron Bure’s “traditional marriage” comments that put the network in hot water last year—or rather, he seems to be doing his best to do anything but address it.

Last November, Abbott and Bure, who serves as the network’s chief content officer, did a joint interview about their plans for the Wall Street Journal, featuring the headline “Candace Cameron Bure Wants to Put Christianity Back in Christmas Movies.” When asked whether GAF, which is essentially a Hallmark knock-off, would include stories involving same-sex couples, Bure ruffled feathers by responding, “I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core.”

Not only did that make it clear she has no interest in the stories in question, but it pushed the narrative that heterosexuality is the only “traditional” type of coupling, which contributes to the othering of LGBTQ+ people.

Variety’s Emily Longeretta recently interviewed Abbott about their upcoming slate of Christmas movies, asking him whether he agreed with Bure’s stance. His answer was wishy-washy in the way of anyone trying to avoid offering a soundbite that could be used as an attention-grabbing headline (“I wouldn’t say whether it’s a matter of agreeing or not”), and he tried to focus on his claim that Bure doesn’t speak for Great American Family—despite that quite literally being what she was doing in the interview with WSJ last year.

“When Candace talks about something, obviously she has a lot of other audiences and platforms,” he said, merely a portion of several paragraphs that amounted to empty words with little to no actual meaning.

Even when asked directly whether GAF would include same-sex couples in the future, Abbott continued to dodge.

“I don’t think when we set out to do any type of movie we cast it first,” he said. “The first thing we think about is a great storyline or great characters or an emotional journey. We’re not seeking to do anything or not do anything, and we take every day as it comes.”

Of course, anyone paying attention would know he wasn’t being asked about the casting of GAF’s films at all. Coming up with a “great storyline or great characters,” when discussing the leads of films that center romance, absolutely encompasses sexuality. But it’s clear Abbott understands the theory that if you spout nonsense for long enough, people will either assume you said something meaningful or move on.

He went on to make several other infuriatingly empty remarks throughout the interview, both about LGBTQ+ inclusion and whether GAF will ever bother to include more leads that aren’t white. Of the latter, he made vague claims that “It’s a challenge that we are addressing head on,” and that they will “look very different in 2024 than we did this year,” as if casting anyone other than white actors requires a 5-year-plan rather than a simple “Hey, let’s pick this guy.”

At one point, Abbott also, seemingly without a hint of irony, boasted that GAF is hoping to “attract as many people who are underserved, and feel like faith and family is important to them” to their audience. When Longeretta pointed out they’re actually alienating a portion of the country with the way things are, he yammered on about shareholders and profitability and staying “focused on the core part of the business.”

Considering this is the same man who resigned as CEO of Crown Media—Hallmark’s parent company—after yanking a Zola commercial featuring a same-sex couple from the network and calling it “controversial,” and considering he acknowledged Bure herself is the one “watching content…reading scripts…[and] weighing in on cast” in order for GAF’s films to get made, there’s absolutely no reason to believe a move towards inclusivity is in the network’s future.

Meanwhile, Hallmark released its Christmas movie featuring a same-sex couple within one year of Abbott’s resignation, and has continued to at least make some progress towards being more inclusive as each subsequent year has gone by—including putting two new queer Christmas movies on their schedule this year and featuring a gay series regular on a show that premiered in March.

I’m not sure what “underserved” audience will see themselves reflected in GAF’s 19 new Christmas movies featuring straight white people (white women who have done time for bribing college admissions officers, maybe?), but if you’re going to pay lip service to inclusivity, at least try to make it a little bit convincing.

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Rachel Kiley

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.