You’re Watching Disney Channel — Or Are You?

Posted by

Realizing that Disney Channel doesn’t play classics like “Lizzie McGuire,” “Even Stevens,” or “That’s So Raven” anymore is the first sign that you’re old. Well, it’s at least the first sign that you’re a nostalgic college student. You probably can’t even recognize the shows Disney plays now. Valley decided to look back on the channel that produced the shows we all grew up with and what exactly the network is doing today.

Disney Channel actually used to be the ugly duckling of television. However, in the late 90s/early 2000s, the network saw an opportunity to appeal to 10-12 year old kids. All of a sudden, Disney had tween hits that became instantly popular with the demographic. The show that led Disney to the top happened to be a simple account of middle schooler’s life known as “Lizzie McGuire.” It was funny. It was relatable. And it easily became a hit. Who knew a middle school girl going bra shopping could attract so many viewers?

Even though Lizzie was the character that marked the beginning of Disney’s hold on tween viewership,  probably the most progressive show in the early 2000’s on Disney Channel was “That’s So Raven.” Its talks of racism and body image were revolutionary for kids at the time to hear on their television screens. Ultimately though, Lizzie McGuire and Raven Baxter were really a setup for what is now known to be the golden age of the channel — the era of “Hannah Montana” and “Wizards of Waverly Place.”

‘Wizards of Waverly Place” is still the longest-running show on Disney Channel to this day — though only beating “Raven” by six episodes — and “Hannah Montana” along with the movie ‘High School Musical” marked the beginning of Disney’s music crazed success. Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus were expected to do it all — sing, dance, act, and be America’s sweethearts. Their shows taught lessons to young audiences about relationships, break ups, and life itself.

Yet, in the last few years, backlash from parent groups and a rise in ratings for other networks have caused a decline in content and viewership for Disney Channel. So with ratings dropping, Disney decided to tackle teen pregnancy.

The innocent Disney Channel that we all know and love is definitely taking a risk with its new show “Andi Mack,” created by Terri Minsky who thought up the network’s once known saving grace, “Lizzie McGuire.” In the very first episode, viewers find out the main character, a sheltered 13 year old Asian American girl, finds out the girl she believed to be her sister is actually her mom, and her mom is actually her grandma. Minsky didn’t even think the show would ever be aired, saying, “I really didn’t expect them to go for it.”

It’s no secret the new show is a major sign of evolvement for Disney, but some students wonder if the concept is going too far for the viewers it will be attracting.

Freshman Abby Luke said, “I think it’s great they’re trying to be progressive, but I just don’t know if this is the right topic to explore, especially since some viewers are under the 10-12 age demographic they’re going for.”

Valley wonders if “Andi Mack” is going too far for the network that housed our TV favorites of the 2000s? Or will the show become Disney Channel’s ratings savior like the relatable and lovable “Lizzie McGuire” was in the past?