Make It or Break It is easily the best show on ABC Family, but you probably don’t know it. While the network spends a lot of attention promoting cheesey teen programming like Pretty Little Liars or The Secret Life of the American Teenage, MIOBI is a genuinely heartwarming and uplifting drama that gives teenage girls actual role models.

The show, centering on a group of gymnastic Olympic hopefuls at a Colorado gym nicknamed the Rock, features plenty of three-dimensional characters with real flaws, real relationships and actual heart. The show returns for the second half of its second season tonight at 9pm on ABC Family and it comes back with plenty of drama and action. Here are just four reasons why you should watch whether you’re already a fan or a new viewer.

Vampire Gymnasts

The writers clearly know that their potential audience is full of people who love Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, so the show tries something different with a rather hilarious vampire-themed dream sequence.

A New Love Triangle

The show has always featured a love triangle with gymnast frenemies Kaylie Cruz and Lauren Tanner fighting over the flowing golden locks of male gymnast Carter Anderson (Zachary Abel). Even though Kaylie is officially over him, a new and rather unexpected female enters the game to challenge Lauren for Carter’s affections, and the result is promising and creates an exciting level of competitive drama.

Real Girls with Real Problems

Shows like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars feature completely unrelatable problems like secret murders and dating famous politicians or movie stars. But on Make It or Break It, the female gymnasts are dealing with far more basic problems. Emily Kmetko is on probation after stealing medicine for her disabled brother while also working hard to make sure her working class family can afford the expensive lifestyle of an elite gymnast. And in order to keep her spot as the national champion, Kaylie Cruz has developed a severe eating disorder and, as the show returns, she’s in rehab. Eating disorders and struggling finances are far more regular problems than most other escapist teen dramas.

Heartwarming Moms

While the show’s young female gymnasts are all inspiring in their own way, it’s their relationships with their moms that gives the show its emotional core. Emily’s mom Chloe might look tacky and low-class, but she tries her hardest to support her daughter, which isn’t easy. And former champion Payson Keeler’s mom Kim (played brilliantly by Frasier‘s Peri Gilpin) is easily the best part of the show as she does everything she can for her daughter, including tracking down Payson’s disgraced coach Sasha Belov after he was fired for a video in which Payson kissed him.

Make It or Break It is the real deal when it comes to providing positive role models for young women. The elite gymnasts are all competitive and have real and sometimes difficult relationships with each other and their families, but in the end, it’s about working hard, trusting others and doing what you love. When it comes to teen dramas, Make It or Break It deserves the gold medal.

(Image courtesy of ABC Family)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.