My childhood and adolescence took place in the lovely late 90s/early 2000s, so I am no stranger to the nostalgia that is “old school” Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I pretty much tuned out after 2006, but since moving back home (to my parents house that has cable), I found myself flipping through the channels and landing for a little while on the Disney Channel, and let me TELL you–I am here for it!
It started off with my noticing that Raven’s Home (the much hyped That’s So Raven Spin-off) was in the programming, but I ended up staying for my girl Andi Mack. I’ll tell you a little bit about the show down here, but I am going to leave most of it up to you because it is so cute and worth it and I need for you all to experience it on your own.
“Andi Mack” is a contemporary, coming-of-age story about a girl who’s trying to determine where she fits in and the many amazing ways she can live her life. When her free-spirited older sister Bex returns home with a revelation that changes everything, it sends Andi on an uncharted course of self-discovery. –Via IMDB
The show basically follows 13 year old Andi Mack navigating the “complexities” that come with becoming a teenager, including school, friends, boys, and family dynamics; pretty straightforward. What stands out to me most about this show, though, is its commitment to portraying everyday situations that are familiar and resonate with a more diverse viewing audience. For example, in one episode Buffy, Andi’s beautiful natural-haired BFF, is called into the principal’s office because some student referred to
her hair as a “distraction.” Subsequently, Buffy feels the need to straighten her hair, which confuses and disappoints her friends, because they love and embrace her natural curls! Also comes the (spoiler alert!) conversation of teen pregnancy and secrecy, wherein the show addresses the issues and questions that come with the controversial upbringing of Andi in a wholesome, kid-friendly way that does not ignore the truth.
Among many other examples, these conscious efforts to present a scenario that many of us are familiar with (and others who are not) are key in bringing issues in which minority groups may experience to a wider audience. In addition to the diversity in the show (which I might also add, does not try too hard), I should mention that I absolutely adore the character of Andi and her strong-willed and true-to-yourself personality and attitude towards all challenges that come to her. She is creative, yet shy, adventurous, yet reluctant, and completely capable of standing up for herself. These are all qualities which both humanize and compliment Andi as a role model which I would love to have looked up to at this age (hell, I’m 23 and I’m still inspired).
The adults on the show are also present and likable. Andi’s parents aren’t overzealous in their roles as head of household, and there are no extremely-apparent stereotypes applied to them outside of any that could be present in all parents. These elements and more contribute to a feeling that this family could actually be your next door neighbors.
This show definitely reads more of a Boy Meets World, Lizzie McGuire (which, I should mention, was created by the same woman who developed Andi Mack), Even Stevens-like child/family television show, contrary to something a bit more flashy, like Hannah Montana, or any of those other shows where the kids go to some special performing arts school and/or are popstars themselves (or rich, or something). Not to knock those shows, but I am definitely partial to something I can laugh at AND laugh with.
With all being said and done, clearly I recommend this show if you have the free time to watch it. It’s just so incredibly cute, and a positive step towards diversity and inclusion in children’s programming without trying too hard.