As the title says, we will be talking about the new show on Disney Channel, Andi Mack, and why I am so in love with it. This is an in-depth post so it’s long and there will be a lot of spoilers here as I talk events, so if you don’t want spoilers and want to check it out for yourself, you probably shouldn’t be reading this post.
Created by Terri Minsky (Lizzie McGuire), this show is about Andi Mack, a 13-year old girl and how she goes on a self-discovery trip with her best friends Buffy Driscoll (bold but slightly paranoid), Cyrus Goodman (dependable yet anxious), and her crush, Jonah Beck. Her older sister, Rebecca (Bex) comes home after being gone traveling worldwide and decides to stay around much to the chagrin of her mother, Celia. However, it is revealed that Bex, who Andi has always seen as her older sister, is her mother.
Reason #1: Diversity
The main family is Chinese-American as she has her Chinese grandmother, Celia, her white grandfather, Henry (Ham), her biracial mother, Rebecca (Bex), and her father, Bowie (who is later shown as a character), is white. It’s really rare to see biracial characters. Asian characters are being AUTHENTICALLY represented by people of that racial background (*cough* white-washing *cough*). There will be a Chinese New Year episode, which will be really cool to see and I just really love how Disney is showing more diverse characters and families like a Latino family in Stuck In The Middle.
They also address a societal issue among black females and the way they choose to wear their hair as it’s natural or not, as critics go as far as to say that their hair does not fit in with beauty standards. In “It’s Not About You”, Buffy is forced to change how she wears her naturally curly hair by her school’s vice principal because it is “too big” and caused a student to “fail a test”. So she decides to wear it straight, liking it but not without suffering as she burns herself and can’t manage the upkeep. In the end, she decides that she’s going to keep it curly but enjoys what she does with her hair because it’s hers and no one else’s.
Reason #2: LGBTQ+ Representation
Lauren Tom (Celia) confirmed this in this interview (click to check it out).
I didn’t believe Disney would ever have gay main characters this soon because we only had background characters. As of writing this post, Donald Trump has banned transgender soldiers from serving which is completely ridiculous, but that’s a topic for an another post (if I don’t get too mad writing it).
In one scene in the Season 2 sneak peek, Andi, Buffy, and Cyrus are at the Space Otters team party (even though Andi quit the team? but anyway). Jonah is honoring someone for their contributions to the team. If this show was to follow what I’ll consider a “normal” Disney storyline, it would have been Andi. That’s what the teaser prior to the sneak peek implied, ending with Buffy asking if Cyrus likes Andi because of his jealousy. However, this isn’t what happens because he IS jealous but not because of liking her but rather Jonah.
He instead honors Cyrus for being supportive to everyone, just out of his heart and pure goodness
(cause he’s a GOOD MAN, get it? god, i’m lame). Then there is a slowed down hug and you can see that Cyrus is very emotional.
Now, you might be thinking, that doesn’t mean anything. BUT (I sound like a conspiracy theorist, oh god), you have to see the facial expressions throughout, especially when he turns around from staring at Jonah in the beginning of the scene.
AND that’s not the first instance that has “implied” that Cyrus has feelings for Jonah. In “Best Surprise Ever”, Amber insists that Jonah likes Andi and claims that if she turns around after walking away from him, then she definitely likes him as more than a friend. Jonah turns around but Andi doesn’t so he pushes past Amber and walks away in the opposite direction. Amber, still watching Andi, finally gets her answer when Andi does turn around. No one sees this but, Cyrus also turns around. Keep in mind it was slowed down, which means emphasis.
THEY DID THAT. YOUR FAVORITE DISNEY SHOW COULD NEVER (I’m sure your favorite Disney show was lovely though). Watching the season again, knowing that Cyrus is gay really does make you see things in a different light like how nervous he always is around Jonah and like Andi, does kind of glorify him. I like how the slightest facial expressions you see on his face with or about Jonah, which you wouldn’t notice unless you were looking for them or really observant, is why I really do think that the actors and the production team do a fantastic job.
Reason #3: The Subtle Moments
The thing about this show is how carefully executed it is. The actors get the characters down to the smallest emotion and the writers don’t really tell you anything because they don’t have to.
They don’t have to have someone mention things like, “Oh, your family is biracial.” It isn’t necessary and normalizes diversity by not emphasizing. Or even other issues and make everything blatantly obvious, like a lot of failing shows unfortunately do.
Something interesting is that there’s a short session (separate from the episode) called Mack Chat, where kids discuss the events, how they liked it and stuff like that. I think it’s cool but, at the same time, I’m not sure some of these kids may understand some of the themes. In fact, there’s a little joke going around Tumblr about the turn around and if/when Cyrus comes out talking about how older audiences understand what’s happening while the Mack Chat would be like, “He turned around for Amber!”
not comparing unacceptance to naivete, because i know that’s the same thing people don’t support characters being gay said despite confirmation
Reason #4: Teen Pregnancy
The main plot of this show is the fact that Bex had Andi when she was a teenager. Her age when having Andi is unknown, but she is believed to be, at the barest minimum, 15. I believe she was 16. It is amazing to see a children’s channel take on something so controversial, as you see all the strict homophobic and/or religious people protesting it saying that Disney should be teaching abstinence or no gays and that this a horrible show. I’m not saying teen pregnancy is a good thing but it is a reality that we have to face and we can’t keep sheltering it or showing it in reality shows that are more for profit than awareness.
Reason #5: Relationship Dynamics (Family and Romance)
a) Amber And Jonah
Amber, Jonah’s ex-girlfriend, is an awful being and not because she’s an enemy of Andi. In a Disney-ified world, we only really see the glamor out of a relationship and breakups are for good reason not because they are problematic. But what if they were?
In the beginning, THE Jonah Beck is referred to as a human sunbeam as he is very sociable, basically unbreakable and unbeatable. However, through the season we see the ugly of a “perfect” relationship and the emotional consequences as Jonah is more depressed by season’s end.
Amber is an emotionally abusive and manipulative girlfriend as she lies against his friends, flirts with other guys, makes him do things for her, and uses her status (being in high school) as “an advantage”. Also, she does not appreciate the things he does for her, makes fun of the things that he enjoys if she doesn’t enjoy them or her friends don’t approve, and uses AMBER Alert to announce her presence (that might not be emotionally abusive but like… ignorant, much?).
Jonah says worrying things as he tries to normalize her behavior. Like this quote alone: “Amber never likes what I give her and she won’t tell me what she wants. It’s like this fun guessing game that I never win… Except it really isn’t fun.”
Thank god, Jonah finally ends things in the finale, but you can tell that won’t be the last of Amber. Also, I’m not discussing the fact that he broke up with her once before and then got back together with her because… just no.
b) Bex and Celia
Ever since Bex returned to the Mack house, there has been turmoil between them. Celia has always been used to being Andi’s mom but then when Bex comes back, she doesn’t want to lose Andi. Plus, Celia and Bex never did get along much as it is seen that Bex prefers her father at some points.
This leads into a fight for power and control over who really knows that’s best for Andi, who takes care of her better, among other things. Nevertheless, Bex still wants for Celia to approve her being back in their lives and what’s trying to do make everything work. One line that really hit me is when Bex was saying that she would live for the day Celia said she was proud of her. They both can be stubborn as none of them wanted to admit they missed the other once Bex moved out of the house. Near the end of the season, you do see their relationship patching up, but something tells me there’s still a lot more healing to do for the both of them.
Adding Andi into this, she believes that both Celia and Bex have a lot to teach her and they don’t have to be at odds with each other to do so as she often tells them to figure out because they are both adults.
c) Andi, Bex, Bowie
Now learning that someone she saw as her sister is her mother was shell-shocking to Andi. It also becomes a conflict because Bex has barely been in Andi’s life due to traveling the world. However, Bex always had her mind as she kept her in the box that served as her diary and sent her scarves from the places she went. That also meant that the transition from sister to mother wasn’t easy, not like it should be. Andi never called Bex mom and was referring to her just as Bex until the 10th episode where it becomes an emotional moment as Bex becomes overjoyed.
A question Andi insisted on because anyone would want to know, is who her father was. Amber even uses this against her at Andi’s party by publicly making a spectacle out of it because she was jealous of the attention Andi was getting from Jonah. Bex hadn’t been ready to tell her until she makes herself reach out to him, deciding that Andi should know who her father is; ready or not.
After Bex contacts him, he comes to the Mack house and we learn he is an unpredictable, easy-going touring musician named Bowie. He knew of Andi but didn’t know she was his daughter. So, the next day they have a father-daughter adventure that’s pretty heart warming and we see that unpredictability. Bowie also tries to appeal to Celia and succeeds as she previously found his presence distasteful, to say the least.
However, he begins to get to Andi as he ends up being surprisingly everywhere without warning, records everything, and embarrasses her. Bex tells Andi this is his way of trying to put himself into her life, trying to be a good new father, but Andi finds this almost suffocating. There’s a moment where she thinks he is invading her privacy and tells him to leave her alone, only for Bex and Andi find out that he was trying to make something special for Andi. She wishes to apologize but he’s already gone and regrets it as she drove her father away.
In the finale, he does come back into their lives, quitting the tour to be in their lives permanently. We get a part of the story of him and Bex and see the relationship rekindle in a way and the following morning she does confess that even if she loves him, she can’t trust that he will be dependable for her and/or Andi. Bowie wants to prove Bex otherwise in a way that will be interesting to see next season.
d) Andi and Jonah
Now this one along with Jonah and Amber is something that teaches valuable lessons in emotions and romantic relationships.
From the beginning of the show, we know that Andi has a big crush on Jonah Beck: cute, cool, and chipper. The three C’s if you will (i totally just made that up, yikes). Bex even does Andi a solid and get her frisbee lessons with him in the park and takes photos of them having fun. This moment is pretty happy until we learn about the snake, whoops, Amber.
Ultimate Frisbee is something Andi somewhat enjoys but she doesn’t love it as much as someone who would go after it as a sport like Jonah. She lets him convince her to join the team anyway and she thinks that this will be an effective way to get closer to Jonah.
Andi begins to realize that Jonah just expects her to do things for him without question. Additionally, he is too blinded by things he believes are important to him to even care or acknowledge what she cares about. This all leads up to her finally standing up for herself, saying how she only liked Ultimate Frisbee for him and quits the team. Jonah keeps trying to apologize but Andi says that’s her own fault for letting him think that she’d do whatever he wants. After Jonah asks if they could continue being friends, she poses the question: “Were we ever?”
I’m not making excuses but something tells me that he learned this from Amber rather actually doing this because that’s his personality.
This begins her Jonah-free life campaign where she feels much more liberated. However, with the turn arounds mentioned before, we know she still likes him.
I know I’m not the only one who has bent themselves over backward for someone you liked and that’s why this moment was really vital. I had done it for pretty much 3 years and I veiled it innocently too, with just an “everything’s alright” table cloth. But unlike Andi, I didn’t stand up for myself until high school drifted us apart and then I began just to cut them off because I couldn’t do it anymore. With them in my life, I felt like I had to change things about myself to satisfy them and I couldn’t grow as a person in the place and time where I needed to most.
(Also, I love how communicative the cast is with their fans. Joshua Rush literally interacts with his fans all the time on Tumblr and even took part in a fandom awards ceremony created by fans, which actually really warms my heart. It doesn’t even feel like he’s a celebrity, more like your very meme-y friend.)
All in all, this is a great diverse show which is really going to show a progression in our society. It has lots of heart and meaning, and totally worth watching. I was pretty upset when Girl Meets World ended but I think Andi Mack is doing things I wish Girl Meets World would have done and more.
Float In The Cyber Space!