I know, I know… a 26-year-old watching a Disney Channel show? It sounds weird on paper for sure but just take a few hours of your time to watch this delightful gem, Andi Mack and you too will be sold. The show tells of a 13-year-old Andi Mack who discovers a long buried family secret and how her life turns upside down from knowing. We also meet her friends who struggle with sexuality, panic disorders and life as a military child in later episodes.
With the majority of TV Source’s readership being soap opera fans, you will all find that Andi Mack is probably one of the best half hour soap operas you’ve seen in years. Time slot constraint and cast size be damned, Andi Mack delivers a half hour of drama and fun each week without fail. CBS Daytime, take notes!
If you needed a little more incentive to give this tween show a shot, then check out my list below of the top five reasons why you should be watching Disney Channel’s Andi Mack!
1. Andi Mack is conscientious teen of the new millennium – but she’s still relatable
Where other similar shows have failed, Andi Mack and the character of Peyton Elizabeth Lee’s Andi Mack have soared. At the start of the show we meet Andi who lacks self-confidence, who is sheltered and basically scared to step out of her pre-designed box. Over time as her life changes dramatically, Andi opens up in so many different ways.
What has always stood out to me about Andi was how honest she was with her feelings, especially regarding relationships. I won’t spoil much about the show’s romantic plots but after some confusing relationship drama, Andi begins to understand what she wants for herself not how she wants to be for the boy she likes. It’s a powerful narrative that not only do young girls need to hear but young boys as well! Trust yourself, love yourself and the rest will come to you in time. Some of our favorite adult female TV characters (especially on soap operas) still can’t seem to get to this level yet!
Thanks to Terri Minsky and her team, Andi’s feminism-lite never feels like an after school special or a preachy manifesto on Tumblr. But even with all of this growing knowledge on the world around her, Andi is still learning and growing which shows in the tinge of immaturity in some of her actions. She’s still on the path to being woke just like the rest of us!
2. A diverse ensemble cast of strong characters
Representation matters! It’s 2018 and there’s a whole industry of film and television makers that are only just beginning to understand this fact. Andi Mack got it from the start by opening auditions for the main roles without any particular ethnicity in mind. It just so happened that when finding Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Lilan Bowden and Lauren Tom, each woman was of Chinese descent. That’s how Andi’s family became a mixed Asian-American family. Gone are the immortal stereotypes of the quiet, subservient Asian woman and in place are three outspoken women of color in different stages of life. I find that incredible!
The best part is that it’s so clear that Andi’s being Chinese, Cyrus being Jewish or Buffy being black are what they are but not necessarily all of who they are. I had never seen a bar mitzvah portrayed on TV to such an extent as Andi Mack did during Season 2A’s finale, usually it’s just a background party to main story. Cyrus’ coming of age bash was the main story during those episodes! I still remember being shocked as a scene played out with lengthy Hebrew bits. I commend the show’s producers for making sure these characters and cast aren’t diverse to just check off a few boxes on a checklist. Character and story comes first on Andi Mack but viewers of all colors getting to see themselves reflected in these characters is the best added perk.
3. Opens mature, important discussions within family
Creator Terri Minsky has mentioned that one of her main goals for this show was to be a medium to open discussions between parents and children and I think she’s succeeded. Andi Mack does not talk down to its viewers whether said viewer is 12 or 22 years old and that has to be my personal favorite aspect of this great show. These stories are never too heavy for the younger spectrum of the audience but just deep enough to resonate with adults as well.
I don’t think I ever would have imagined Disney Channel to have a show tackling teenage pregnancy, sexual identity and even panic disorders in my lifetime. There was a time where the network seemed so steeped in religion, that it felt like nothing outside of the antiquated idea of what it meant to be wholesome family material to the church. Bit by bit that began to crumble over the years until we had same sex couples on sitcoms and now the gem that is Andi Mack. I can’t thank Disney Channel enough for taking this risk and letting Minsky’s full vision come to life. We wouldn’t have seen the powerful scenes of Cyrus opening up to Buffy on being confused about his sexuality and the show wouldn’t have nabbed that well deserved GLAAD Media Award either.
In the year 2018 where any information is accessible in seconds, kids today need to be even more conscious than we did. In the midst of all this turbulence, teens also need to know that they’re loved and safe no matter who they are inside. Andi Mack is gently making way for that new normal to spread across America.
4. Realistic coming of age drama thanks to Terri Minsky and Michelle Manning
With resumes as solid as theirs, you begin to understand why Disney Channel took the chance to let these women tell their stories. Terri Minskey created the show after learning about Jack Nicholson’s twisty turny family history and she’d previously been with Disney Channel in the early 00s as the creator of Lizzie McGuire. Yes, the Lizzie McGuire, the show that defined a generation. Lizzie was a heroine for boys and girls to connect with during her wacky yet somehow still realistic hijinx. She also created the timeless Sara Rue comedy Less Than Perfect and wrote a few episodes of Sex and The City! So we have one master at writing the relatable, lovable and provoking and then came in co-executive producer, Michelle Manning.
Manning’s resume is just as impressive as Minsky’s! Michelle Manning kicked off her career with screen legend John Hughes back in the 80s, producing both The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. Two films that defined yet another generation! These women have helped create content that has spoken to millions of people for decades and I think they’ve now got this decade covered as well. Andi Mack is that show for this generation!
5. Literally adorable
Just watch one single episode and tell me the spotless streets, pristine four-bedroom homes and sparkling downtown diner aren’t the cutest things in the world. Andi Mack has a distinct world its based in and the main factor of said world is the cute factor! It’s like living in Halloweentown but instead of Halloween, the yearlong celebration is just your own personal best day ever.
I don’t know if it’s the cute, colorful and kitschy bits of Salt Lake City where Andi Mack is filmed or the fact that the cast just has great chemistry that makes it this adorable. Maybe it’s a bit of that special Disney magic too? Either way, prepare to swoon through season 1 and ultimately fall deeply in love with every piece of this show come season 2. Get ready to find your new happy place!
It’s been years since teens had a show for them starring actors that looked like them and characters that deal with problems like them. While it may not be glitzy with adult actors portraying teens like Riverdale or 90210 of the past and it may not go there like Degrassi: The Next Generation did, Andi Mack has filled a clearly empty niche in the industry – and then some! You do not want to miss this show!
Andi Mack airs every Monday at 8PM EST on Disney Channel!