Mario Lopez's Great American Family Deal Signals Shift For Controversial Network

Since its relaunch in September 2021, Great American Family has been embroiled in controversy. Bill Abbott, the former CEO of Hallmark, took over at the family-friendly network following his departure from Hallmark due to their controversial decision to pull four same-sex holiday commercials off the air, sparking widespread media attention. As the fledgling network started to shape its form, multiple Hallmark stars left to join Great American Family, including Danica McKellar, Candace Cameron Bure, Lori Loughlin, and others. 

In February 2024, GAF recruited actor and TV personality Mario Lopez to join their prestigious lineup. In a statement posted to the network's official website, Abbott expressed his excitement: "We welcome Mario to Great American Media and look forward to his many creative contributions to our ever-growing, emerging brand of beloved faith and family entertainment."

Lopez's deal with GAF could prove to be a significant page-turner for the controversial network, especially considering the substantial online criticism it faced due to Bure's remarks about prioritizing traditional marriage in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. As the network attempts to diversify its audience and content, the question remains — can the equally polarizing Lopez help to broaden their horizons?

Lopez made insensitive comments about transgender children

One thing is for certain — Mario Lopez is excited to be a part of Great American Family. According to the network's official announcement, the TV personality said of his multi-year deal, "Joining Great American Media is immensely fulfilling. I look forward to creating uplifting, inclusive, and diverse content viewed through a positive lens for all ages." The "Saved by the Bell" star added, "Being able to share family-friendly stories representing diverse voices is a true blessing."

Lopez's first project for GAF will be a Christmas movie also featuring his wife, Courtney Lopez. It's scheduled to air as a part of their holiday movie lineup, Great American Christmas 2024, which begins in October 2024. Notably, Lopez committed to multiple projects for the network as a part of his deal. However, while adding one of the most famous Latino faces to their roster might be an attempt to broaden Great American Family's predominantly white scope, it's worth mentioning that Lopez has had his fair share of controversies. 

In 2019, he faced backlash for comments made on "The Candace Owens Show," where the actor expressed skepticism about children's ability to choose their gender identity. Lopez's traditional standpoint undeniably aligns with Great American Family's faith-based agenda and traditional values, illustrating a convergence of perspectives with the network.

GAF fans still want to see traditional Christian values

Mario Lopez is known for sharing family themes in his holiday films, so it comes as no surprise that he took up a contract with Great American Family. The TV personality is also big on speaking up about the importance of family and faith in his life but, as Lopez puts it, never in a way that may aggravate anybody. When speaking to Closer Weekly, Lopez highlighted, "I'm not trying to influence someone one way or the other; I'm just being honest about how I feel."

The announcement of Lopez joining GAF sparked predominantly positive reactions on the network's Instagram page. Under the post breaking the news, one user commented, "I love [that] we'll be seeing more Latino representation from such a genuine Christian," while another argued, "Bring in more Latinos that are believers too." While the audiences tuning in are clearly hungry for diversity, they also predominantly prioritize traditional, Christian-based content. 

Under the same Instagram post, one person wrote, "I love Great American [Family] because I can watch something clean & meaningful," leaving the impression that non-traditional values aren't. Another comment, liked by GAF, read, "By inclusive, I hope you mean Christian-based." So, while the controversial network might operate under the perceived notion of inclusivity, it's apparent that there are clear boundaries on who is welcomed by them and who is not.