‘Andi Mack’ Brings Disney Into The 21st Century

A still from Disney Channel's "Andi Mack." Image courtesy of the Disney Channel.

by Ace Hobfoll

The Disney Channel, famous for shows like “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” “Lizzie Mcguire,” and “Hannah Montana,” is making waves with one of its newest additions: “Andi Mack.”

The show revolves around a girl, Andi Mack, who discovers that the woman she thought was her sister is actually her mother. Understandably, this changes everything. Luckily, she has her best friends, Buffy and Cyrus, to help her out.

Already, this show breaks boundaries with the introduction of the teen pregnancy in the first season — a topic not breached by the company in the past. But as the show goes into its second season, it has started to delve into even more socially relevant (and challenging) topics: toxic relationships, race and gender, dress codes, and coming out as gay.

The characters are from different backgrounds, and even when the storyline centers around the stereotypically mean blonde girl, the show-writer manage to create depth of character. The show’s tone is reflective of society, while simultaneously balancing typical tween show shenanigans. The characters hold protests for what they believe is right, they learn to stand up for themselves, they struggle around issues of parenting — and yes, there are still middle school crushes.

Family can be complicated, and “Andi Mack” uses this to its advantage, giving the classic Disney dysfunctional family a new layer. Teen pregnancy is usually saved for dramas on Freeform or the CW, but the Disney Channel show plays into its aftermath, using the family dynamic of being raised by the people who are technically one’s grandparents, and transitioning between caretakers.

The show does have its flaws — mostly because this is still a show intended for younger audiences. The main character, Andi, doesn’t seem to have any real character development over the course of both seasons. This could be because the seasons are pretty short and close together, or maybe it’s because Andi is a middle schooler — and middle schoolers are notoriously selfish.

There’s also a strange refusal to use the word “gay.” In Cyrus’s coming-out scene, he just says he’s “weird,” and is assured by Buffy that it’s okay to be like that.

There’s also a “Mack Chat” after every episode, where viewers talk about what they thought about the events of the episodes. After the coming-out episode, viewers might draw the conclusion that while the show-runners will be using the coming-out storyline, it won’t be as clear-cut as those we see on other networks because of the Disney Channel’s squeaky-clean reputation.

Overall, this is a heartwarming show that deals with a lot of modern-day struggles not previously shown on the channel. I hope there are more shows like this coming down the pipeline, and that future generations will be able to enjoy them.

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