If you grew up in the early 2000s and didn’t spend your days watching Lizzie McGuire on Disney Channel, did you even have a childhood? There was nothing like the trio of Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo walking through the halls only to be interrupted by the extra quirky (and spazzie) Cartoon Lizzie. The show was fun and silly, dealing with relatable topics like having a major crush, embarrassing parents, and your friends changing from who you thought they were. It wasn’t until 2017 that Terri Minsky, creator of Lizzie McGuire, came back to Disney Channel to give us the most inspirational kids’ show, Andi Mack.
Andi Mack follows the life of thirteen year old Andi (played by Peyton Elizabeth Lee) and her group of friends. The show starts out on Andi’s birthday when her older sister, Bex, comes to visit. But then, PLOT TWIST, Andi finds out that Bex is actually her mother and the people she grew up calling mom and dad were actually her grandparents. Bex had Andi when she was a teenager but wasn’t ready for the responsibility of being a parent. To avoid embarrassing the family name, Andi’s grandparents raised her as their own child until she stumbled upon this huge secret. Once Andi found out, Bex turned her life around and became a mother to Andi. By the end of the show Bex falls in love with Andi’s father, creating a happy, loving family from a dramatic and tragic backstory.
Andi Mack and Her Friends Slay Social Issues
Teen pregnancy was only the first of many social issues that Disney Channel dealt with during the three years of Andi Mack. When Andi’s friend, Buffy (played by Sofia Wylie), wanted to start playing basketball for their school she had to deal with issues a lot scarier than vampires. She found out that her school didn’t have a girls team. She tried out for the guys team, and just like your average Disney Channel show she made the team!
However, it wasn’t smooth sailing after that. She played on the team but a lot of the players didn’t respect her as a player and wouldn’t pass Buffy the ball or treat her as part of the team. After toughing it out on the guys team and slaying the competition, Buffy finally got the school to start a girls basketball team. She works with inexperienced basketball players to make a confident team of female players – truly showing that girls can do anything boys can do.
A Whole New World for Disney Channel
One of the biggest accomplishments that Andi Mack achieved is being the first Disney Channel show to feature an openly gay character. Cyrus Goodman (played by Joshua Rush) struggled with coming out to his friends throughout the show. He developed a crush on the same boy that Andi had a crush on, making his struggle to tell his friends a lot harder. Eventually, Cyrus came out to his friends at different times, finding that everyone he told still loved and accepted him no matter what.
Recently, Rush came out as bisexual himself. He didn’t find the courage thanks to the character he played, but from the fans who found the strength to come out by watching Cyrus come out. Even though playing the character didn’t give Rush the courage to come out, Cyrus made so many kids feel confident to be who they are and to love themselves no matter what.
The whole concept of the show was out of left-field for Disney Channel. The magical land that we all grew up with finally faced facts – that this world isn’t all that magical. Along with these three major social issues, Andi Mack also dealt with kids who struggle with bullying, learning disabilities, panic attacks, segregation, discrimination, and so many other day-to-day issues. Although dealing with some extremely heavy issues, the show is fun to watch and kept kids of all ages (and even adults) eagerly waiting for the next episode to come out. We hope that Disney Channel learns from the success of this show and there will be more like it for upcoming generations.
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Words: Anna Grillo | Photos: Disney Channel