General Mills, RE/MAX Won’t Advertise on “Pretty Little Liars,” Save Kids From Radical Lesbian Agenda

While queer girls watching ABC’s Pretty Little Liars may be upset that A is trying to ruin Emily’s chances of ever having a cute girlfriend for more than three episodes, Emily’s baby queer love life has worse problems in store. The Florida Family Association is so scandalized by what’s currently one of the most accurate and generous portrayals of a young queer woman on TV that they’re pressuring advertisers to pull out of PLL — including, most notably, General Mills.

Their campaign first began back in July, when they released a statement so unhinged (and inaccurate, as fans of the show will ruefully point out) that it seemed safe to assume it would never go anywhere.

“Unlike any other show on unrestricted advertiser-supported television networks, the majority of the primary cast on ‘Pretty Little Liars’ are lesbians. The series has grown from one lesbian lead character to three. The majority of the viewers of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ lesbian show are children. More than half or 1.3 million of the 2.5 million female viewers are children — girls between the ages of 12 and 18 according to cable reports on This report does not include girls younger than 12, but certainly they are also watching by the tens of thousands. ABC using salacious and glamorizing scenes portraying young, pretty women as lesbians sends the wrong message to these young girls, a message that reinforces and legitimizes this homosexual lifestyle in a manner that could affect these young girls’ sexual identity for a lifetime.”

They apparently had no comment on The Real L Word. But despite the FFA’s clearly unfounded and homophobic claims, it appears some companies advertising with ABC are actually listening to them. Realty corporation RE/MAX has issued a statement told the FFA that it wasn’t aware of the advertising situation, because it deals with ABC as a whole and isn’t aware of what specific shows it has spots on — but now that it is, PLL has been added to their media company’s advertising blacklist.

(UPDATE: This was in fact an email communication, not a public statement by RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly — which means only the FFA knows the original context.) 

“We have looked into this situation and discovered that while we purchase advertising on this cable station, we do not purchase advertising on that particular show,” Kelly wrote Caton. “We have informed our media company to be sure to reference our list of shows that we do not want to advertise on … this show is on the list. This should not happen again.”

 Even worse? The FFA is citing General Mills, of all places. Lest you be forced to visit the Florida Family Association’s website, here’s their account:

The Florida Family Association also notes an extensive list of advertisers who did not advertise during Pretty Little Liars after receiving emails from the FFA and their supporters, but it’s impossible to say which of these companies simply didn’t have ads slated for that episode, perhaps never advertised on ABC Family to begin with, or pulled out for other reasons.

This scene is bad news for children

According to the 2011 GLAAD Network Responsibility Index for representation of gay characters and story lines, ABC topped the cable networks list and earned the report’s second “excellent” ever. That was with 55% of its hours of programming being “LGBT-inclusive” — that doesn’t even require having a queer primary character. In contrast, other networks fell far behind even that.

The broadcast networks’ ratings fall in the same order as in 2009-10, with The CW in the lead with 33% of LGBT-inclusive hours of original programming, followed by Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS, with 10%. In the cable networks, ABC Family has a significant lead with 55%, followed by Showtime, TNT, HBO, AMC, Syfy, FX, USA, and A&E and TBS, which both had a shameful 5%.

None of these numbers are dramatically different from years past — there hasn’t been much major progress in terms of female LBT representation on TV, and what progress there has been is largely represented by Brittana, The Real L Word and PLL‘s Emily — who’s yet to have a successful lesbian relationship, outfit that isn’t a t-shirt and jeans or even really a facial expression. She’s hardly a radical lesbian warrior princess.

There’s no reason to really think that PLL or Emily’s love life are in danger; the network won’t rewrite the rest of the season to win over RE/MAX. It’s ridiculous that in this day and age people are still fighting to prevent our representation — this is why we haven’t been able to see our own stories until recently, and those network statistics still aren’t changing.

But perhaps the most insane aspect of this entire campaign has nothing to do with Emily at all. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Aria. She’s a junior in high school, so she’s probably around 16 or 17:

And here’s Aria’s boyfriend Ezra:

Aria and Ezra met at a bar and hooked up in the first episode and were super-surprised to see one another again when Ezra showed up for his first day of teaching at Rosewood High, where Aria was his student! But they did not let English class get in the way of their steamy affair! So Ezra is 22 or something and Aria is 16 or something…

…and the Florida Family Association is concerned about glamorizing HOMOSEXUALITY of all things? Really? I’m not saying they should necessarily raise hell about Aria and Ezra, but their selective watchdogging looks especially ludicrous in this light.

I think it’s pretty clear that if anyone’s sending the wrong message here, it isn’t Emily Fields.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3211 articles for us.


  1. I don’t even watch “Pretty Little Liars”, but I’m feeling a powerful urge to start…and then to buy products from every company that advertises during the show. Lots and lots of products. Every. Single. Company.

  2. I like how they don’t believe “pretty” girls can be lesbians. Maybe the FFA just wants more butch representation?

  3. “Hearts, Stars, and Horseshoes, Clovers, and Blue Moons, Pots of Gold, and Rainbows, and me Red Balloons!”
    I wasn’t aware that Lucky the Leprechaun was straight? He’s been promoting the gay agenda for as long as I’ve been alive.

    Really General Mills, Really?

  4. I have gotten into arguments about the Aria/Ezra story line. I find it seriously disturbing.

    • Yeah, it seems particularly strange that on a show with a glamorized teacher/student relationship, the family people only care about the fact that there are LESBIANS.

    • I honestly would feel better about it if it was at least realistic. He needs to be trying to fuck her at least. This non-sexual lovefest of soulmates is the most unrealistic thing a girl could ever expect when getting involved with her teacher. I was especially disturbed by last week’s episode. Even though it was a dream sequence, the way Aria had Ezra tied around her finger — the way he lied by looking at her adoringly as she fixed her hair in the mirror — was such a damaging image to me. That’s not what a teacher-student relationship is going to be. In all likelihood, the teacher will be using, manipulating and controlling the student on some level. Look, it’s not like I don’t think the scenario is hot, but I think it’s wrong and something that really should not be happening in real life, and this show totally encourages it. Anyway, the most troubling aspect of this for me is that the target demo of this show is 14 year olds, not adults.

  5. As completely disgusting as this is, take a minute to think back to even 5 years ago.
    There were no lesbians on general cable. The ladies of The L Word were on Showtime, you had to pay extra for them. The fact that there is a show on that we can watch, despite advertisers crying, that still presents us with a readily accessible view of Lesbian relationships without feeling the need to flash us nipple to make it ok is a huge step forward.

    For Women.
    For the Love of Women!

  6. this is really the first time in a long time that major advertisers have pulled out for lesbian reasons. it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • I agree. I’m hoping for backlash.

      Better yet, maybe the show will respond by getting even gayer. Fight fire with fire.

      • I mean, they already think that “the majority of the primary cast on ‘Pretty Little Liars’ are lesbians,” so I think they might as well grant everyone’s wishes and make it a reality.

      • Speaking of, can anyone give me the correct angry words for General Mills that will express how betrayed I feel? They’re headquartered in my home state, and in the several years of volunteer GLBT event planning I did during college they were financial sponsors for literally every big event I took part in. I thought they were on my fucking side, I thought they had my back, and I am upset and I don’t want to eat cereal anymore.

    • When I googled “General Mills Lesbian” the only thing that came up was this article. I wonder why there hasn’t been more backlash or coverage yet?

  7. Of course they’re not going to decry a May/December romance (if you can even call it that). Half of them probably have super young trophy wives or child brides. They eat that shit up!

    Also, I thought this “The majority of the viewers of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ lesbian show are children” actually said that the majority of viewers of PLL were LESBIAN CHILDREN, and it was super amusing to me.

    • I just love the rhetoric of the entire thing- nowadays 12-18 year olds are referred to as pre-teens/teens/young adults, not children. Teenagers, they exist!

      • Well, these people are all about controlling their children and trying to mold them into clones of themselves, so they wouldn’t understand about teens being old enough to figure out some of these things for themselves. They don’t WANT them to figure out things for themselves. They want them to be controlled, so they will do that as long as they are legally able to do so. They’re often people who can’t handle their kids growing up, so they try to delay it as much as they can. They can keep them mental children for a while, even if they can’t keep them physical children.

        Trust me, my bio dad (who, luckily, isn’t a part of my life anymore) was like this. I remember an e-mail he sent to my mom where he called my sister and me “little girls” at 17 and 15, respectively.

  8. def aggravating – good piece though and thanks for posting it. i agree with riese, should be interesting to see how it all pans out…

  9. Can we talk for a second about how old Ezra actually is?? Does anyone know? Sometimes I think I’ve thought more about this than the writers of this show…

    • I think about this a lot, too. The fact that he’s now teaching on the university level makes me believe he almost certainly has more than his Bachelor’s. He’s got to be at least 24 or 25 by now, right?

      For me, though, what’s squicky about the Aria/Ezra thing isn’t the age difference, per se, but the fact that she’s still in high school and he’s been through college. That’s a pretty vast difference in life experience. Also the whole “place of power” thing, what are we teaching our children with this? (Proverbial children… I don’t even have a pet.)

    • Yeah I was thinking 26 – 28, which is like a pretty serious difference. It took me a long time to get over how bizarre that story line was, while Emily’s awesomeness required no repressing of moral sensibilities whatsoever.

  10. This is surprisingly infuriating, that companies like General Mills would still cave to reactionary organizations like the FFA in this day and age. I guess I have to stop eating Cheerios now (insert obligatory Brittana-related Cheerios joke here.)

    Maybe the FFA is A? It would explain a lot.

  11. Also, can we return to the days when FFA only meant “Future Farmers of America?” There should be a rule about acronyms… once one organization is using it, NO ONE ELSE CAN USE IT. Because this led me to think that there are a ton of homophobic high schoolers in blue corduroy jackets out there who really, really like to play “media watchdog” when they’re not milking cows. And that’s just goddamn confusing.

    • right? i read that and was like “WHAT?!??!?!?!?!?! i better have not missed some lesbian action that they got to see”

      • i think they were referring to Emily, Paige, Maya, Samara, Hanna, Spencer and Caleb. Also that therpaist. Get serious gay vibes from her.

        • Dr. Sullivan is definitely gay. I decided this after seeing her flagrantly violate patient-doctor confidentiality by accosting Emily in a public place to tell her that she still cares about her.

          • All I could think during that scene was “Noooo that’s not allowed.” Clearly, i’m really into doctor-patient confidentiality.

            That said, this whole thing is pretty depressing. I was looking for the PPL recap/fashioncap and stumbled onto this instead :(

            Well, I’m not really into cereal anyway. And i’m totally not into real estate anymore.

          • Mona definitely has a big fat lesbian crush on Hanna.
            Aria and Ezra’s relationship is pretty lezzy, too.

  12. Heaven forbid we have “pretty” lesbians. Do they think real life lesbians aren’t pretty because…AHEM.

  13. These groups and the advertisers that cave to them only ever complain about gay things hurting and influencing children. I never see these people complaining about serial-killing Dexter or the drug-dealers on Breaking Bad or shows that promote sex(and most likely unprotected)like the Bachelor/ette, Bachelor Pad or Bad Girls Club. Where is their boycott of Jersey Shore? Where is their boycott of Real Housewives? Where is their boycott of Teen Mom and the Secret Life of an American Teen? Such hypocrites. These people don’t really care about the children at all or they would be complaining about all the sex and violence on damn near every other show on tv. This is just another excuse to spew hate about gay people.

    • Well, I mean, in all fairness to FFA (I can’t believe I just wrote that), their purpose seems to be to counter changing cultural trends in the understanding of sexuality. Like, there’s not a rapidly changing reinterpretation of serial killers happening in our society, so they’re not going to be passionate about Dexter. Shows like PLL or Glee (etc.), though, actually do have the ability to change people’s minds and humanize LGBTQ people for viewers, and the culture IS, in fact, changing, so they recognize that these shows are a threat to maintaining/evangelizing their worldview where other shows aren’t. Although I agree that in some ways shows like Jersey Shore and Real Housewives normalize sexuality they should theoretically see as just as deviant as homo/bisexuality and they don’t get riled up about those ones, so, yeah, that seems like just plain old hypocrisy to me.

  14. Dammit…first I have to boycott Pepsi for being massively non-supportive. Now GM cereals? What will they take away next? Cows? Milk? Oxygen?

    • Actually, conservatives will get angry because oxygen bonds with other oxygen atoms to form molecules in breathable air.

      Don’t get them started on the polyamory involved in a sugar molecule.

  15. Definitely read the sentence “The majority of the viewers of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ children’s show are lesbians”…but realized that was too accurate and had to re-read.

  16. Rachel,

    I had never heard of this FFA until they started their campaign against this show. That the loud and powerful Parent’s Television Council went after Pretty Little Liars without any success and yet this FFA got two corporations to cave seems odd. Have you contacted eith Re/Max or General Mills to verify this? I would also recommend contacting ABC Family and/or Marlene King. Also has this been reported to GLAAD? GLAAD handles matters like this very well and would probably be a good place to start if this is verified as true.

    • I sent a tweet with a link to this article to Marlene King and Shay Mitchell.

      What am I supposed to do without my Cheerios?

      • I would also like this verified by an outside source. I think we need to push General Mills for answers and make them realize we’re also paying attention. That and we’ll eat the hell out of some cereal, so they really don’t wanna fuck with this demographic.

  17. Does General Mills know about Lesbians Eating Cereal? Someone should tell them. They clearly don’t understand that the demographics of cereal consumers and PLL viewers intersects like whoa.

    I just ran out of my second box of Cinnamon Life this week. As much as it pains me to have to replace the cereal that has been breakfast and lunch (ok, and sometimes dinner) almost every day for the past two and a half years, damn it, I will.

  18. Wait, so the lesbian content is what they have a problem with? Not the fact that all the men on the show are statutory rapists? Talk about the most chaste lesbian content on the planet. The Florida Family Association also called for a boycott of Degrassi because it has a “bisexual lesbian” (actually a lesbian named Fiona), a gay couple on the football team and FtM trans kid named Adam. On Degrassi they have pretty hot and steamy closed-mouth kisses! THE HORROR!

    On All My Children yesterday, two women had sex. Like, they removed articles of clothing and made out on a bed. IT WAS AWESOME. See for yourself: The Florida Family Association doesn’t care because the show is already being canceled in a few weeks. But this scene proved something important. Nothing bad happened to anyone. No flood of complaints. No ratings drop today. And now it has opened the doors for more scenes like this in the future. Suck it, conservative assholes.

  19. so everytime you wrote “LBT” i read it as “BLT” and i was like WHO HAS ISSUES WITH DELICIOUS SANDWICHES????

    but this is way worse.i mean, i love sandwiches and all, but all love homos more.

    mmmm homo sandwichesssss

  20. Since I’m so used to fuckery like this (throwing a hissyfit over lesbian content), I’m just gonna say that I’m really ashamed of General Mills…all of my favorite cereals are by them. lol

  21. Thank you, Rachel, for pointing out the huge hypocrisy in FFA’s target. Student-teacher relationships are illegal; teen girls dating other girls is not. Get your fucking privileges and priorities straight, assholes.

  22. this is completely infuriating. but the FFA got one thing right- i’m pretty sure as a teen who watches PLL that emily fields has affected my sexual identity for a lifetime.

  23. General Mills does have a pretty excellent record on supporting the GLBT community. They got a 100 from the HRC on their employer database for offering TONS of same-sex partner benefits, they support Minneapolis Pride, and right now they’re helping to prevent the Minnesota amendment against gay marriage from going to a vote. I don’t believe this was an ideological decision. That’s what makes it so confusing.

    I’m planning on e-mailing Jeff Hagen (the director of Consumer Servies) and asking for an explanation. Also, my parents (who both work for General Mills) said they’d look into this. I don’t know if that will change anything, but at least they’ll know that WE know and we are not pleased.

    • I have a friend who works for them who passed it on to Betty’s Family, the General Mills LGBT employee group. Nobody in the group knew about it so they’re looking into it, too. Project: Backlash, GO!

    • yeah it seemed confusing to us too, but it has been confirmed that they did pull their advertising from the show, but it’s possible the FFA is misrepresenting their motivation to do so — we’re looking into it.

  24. What if gay and gay-friendly companies rushed to advertise on any show targeted by anti-LGBT organisations? It would make screening the show rewarding for the producers, and LGBT people and their allies would know that in buying the products advertised on these shows, we were supporting LGBT and allies’ companies.

  25. The show is INDOCTRINATING people into lesbianism. You want proof? I myself used to be a straight man. But since watching the show, I’ve turned into a lesbian.

  26. Mindschmootz was inspired by this piece and is suggesting people each politely let GM know about how their feelings on this change our feelings on their products. Suggested a hashtag tweeting to mills with our feelings on the subject .

    Considering lending your tweet voice if you aren’t already writing a longer letter to General Mills.

    Dear @GeneralMills my DNA may predetermine many things, but not my consumer selections. I DO have a choice there! #PLLAdPull

    • Hi Michele (and everyone else!)! Just so you know, we are in the process of contacting these companies and confirming what their positions are on the show, since it’s entirely possible that the FFA would want to misrepresent how this has all gone down — look for an update post in the near future! In the meantime, you’re of course free to take whatever course of action regarding these corporations that you want, just keep in mind that the whole story may not have come to light yet, and it might be good to make sure we have all the facts (which we are working to get as of this moment). Thanks for caring so much about this issue!

  27. What I find even more alarming than the homophobia here is these companies’ apparent interest in young girls’ sexuality.

    Ew. Just ew.

  28. I’ve sent an e-mail to Jeff Hagen, and I’m anticipating a reply. If I don’t get one, I’ll start using my countless General Mills connections to get a meeting where I can rip him to shreds.

    Seriously, I really want an explanation. If my e-mail doesn’t get one, the gloves are off.

  29. Three lesbian lead characters? Did I miss some episodes? I don’t think Maya, Paige or Samara are lead characters. Unless they know something I don’t, and Hanna and Spencer are coming out of the closet. In which case I will send all my cash to PLL directly to keep the show on the air. :)

  30. Thank god Alpha-Bits are made by Post Cereals or the this weeks episode wouldn’t have been the same!

  31. Hold up a minute guys, plot twist. I signed a petition which sent an email to the company regarding this, and here’s the response I got. It seems reasonable enough to me, especially because they cite the Ezria relationship as a problem rather than Emily and her lesbian wiles.

    “Thank you for your email, and for giving us the opportunity to respond.

    As you have read, General Mills is not a sponsor of the television program Pretty Little Liars. Last week, we received an inquiry from an organization to advertisers on that program – and we responded that the program is not one that we sponsor. That organization posted our response online, under the headline: “General Mills says NO to Pretty Little Liars Lesbian Content.”

    That is and was incorrect. That was not what we said.

    General Mills does not make advertising placement decisions based on the sexual orientation of characters. Our decision relative to this program was based on audience demographics and program content, which has evolved into areas such as stalking and student-teacher relationships. The sexual orientation of characters was not a factor. Nor was our decision the result of external pressure from any group.

    Your reaction is understandable. Our response created the opportunity for misinterpretation, because we did not explain our reasoning.

    But the sexual orientation of characters was not a factor in our decision. That is the truth.

    Again, thank you for giving us the opportunity to explain.”

  32. I watch PLL because of the interesting story line and DESPITE the student-teacher and lesbian relationships, which does not draw me to the show.

    There is a difference between showing tolerance and respect for all – which I believe people should show – and actively sponsoring and advocating for such lifestyle – which all companies/persons have the right to do. I support these advertisers rescinding their sponsorship of the show.

  33. REMAX are LIARS and THEIVES…………..YOU don’t get it……..
    THEY USE people…………..and you just got used……..ALL THEY WANT IS MONEY >>>>are you a looser and don’t SEE it?

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