This Grandma’s Review of Disney’s Andi Mack is Not What the Disney Channel Executives Want to Hear

Disney11This Grandma likes to be cool and in the know.  When I read about a new Disney Channel series that was touted to be creative, curious and progressive, I wanted to know more.  The New York Times, March 13, 2017, had an article that caught my eye, “As Kids Mature Faster, Disney Adapts.”

Andi Mack, the new Disney Channel show,  is supposed to be the savior for Disney, who according to author of the article, Brooks Barnes, is not only dealing with a decline in viewership of almost 20%, but is dealing with Netflix, You Tube, and something called “age compression,” children getting older younger.  The idea for the program was interesting to this Grandma as it was based on Jack Nickolson’s life where until he was nearly forty he did not know that his sister was his mother.  I was intrigued as how this would work using the main character being a thirteen year old girl.

Not only did I immediately watch the first segment on You Tube, I both texted and emailed the link to the mother of our older grandchildren and to the thirteen year old grandson and ten year old granddaughter to watch as they were all home due to the impending snow storm.  I even spoke to them and asked them to call when they finished watching it so we could discuss it.  They are the intended audience after all.

This Grandma’s review of Disney’s Andi Mack is not what the Disney Channel Executives want to hear.  It is not that Andi is not an adorable actor doing a great job.  It is the material she is given that is concerning.  Having raised teenagers, I was appalled at how thirteen year old Andi proceeded to buy a motor bike without telling her parents or getting authority to do so, and then virtually ignored their disapproval.  This is a safety issue, treated as a viewable moment with Andi’s motorbike parked behind sister/mother’s motorcycle in the driveway.  The sister/mother, Bex, short for Rebecca, just announces that she is there for Andi’s thirteenth birthday and is moving back home.  There is no job, no plan, just television.  The disrespect for the parents’ authority is rampant.  The parents become caricatures.  The Mother’s face goes from disapproval to frustration and she is totally out of control and out of the picture, ignored and disobeyed without consequences.  The Father is ineffective and ineffectual, almost shrugging his shoulders as if to say, what is he expected to do with this new situation.  Despite being specifically told not to tell Andi the “secret,” the sister/mother immediately does.  Again, Bex is not thrown out, not reprimanded, and this is not dealt with at all.  All the parental inadequacies and family dysfunction coupled with teenage and young adult unbridled empowerment make me cringe.

Teenagers do not need unbridled empowerment.  Raising teenagers is the most difficult work a parent has.  Teenagers have no conscience, no judgment, and think they will live forever.  Is there a potential cause of action against Disney when thirteen year olds go out and buy motorbikes without their parents’ knowledge and permission and get injured?

The show does not show competent family communication or interaction.  It does not show how a family deals with a crisis.  It goes for the drama, without being what it could be, modeling appropriate parent child interaction.  The sister/mother is a child herself, and is wrongfully empowered.  The sister/mother is not a role model I want for my grandchildren, and the segment seems to set up “like sister/mother, like daughter.”  Neither are the parents, or I should say, grandparents, appropriate role models.  No one planned for this day?  I guess they really used age 40 for Jack Nickolson finding out as the benchmark of not having to deal with reality.

The reality was that the mother of my grandchildren and my grandchildren never got around to watching the first segment on You Tube.  They had X Box, You Tube, and Netflix, after all.

Yes, children today are getting older younger, are exposed to more complex issues, and need to have television shows that grab their attention.  They are bombarded with terrorism, conflict, prejudice, social upheaval.  Why not a show that covers all that?

This Grandma is a refugee, coming to America when a baby as a stateless person, raised on the American dream and the cold war in the 1950’s, living and experiencing the 1960’s segregation, sexism, prejudice and social upheaval, and accomplished the American dream.  Why not a multigenerational program for today’s version of “Archie Bunker,” combined with “I Love Lucy” and “Father (grandma) Knows Best,” a Grandma who never had grandparents and is doing all she can to learn how to be the best grandma in the world, but caught in today’s reality.  I call this blog, “Grandma Lessons,” for all those lessons I keep learning, but that is too tame for television.  We need to mix up the generations and mix up the lessons learned from a life lived long and full.

I have it!

“The Grandma Explosion,” a multigenerational comedy/drama showing the effect of a long distance grandma exploding into the grandchildren’s households periodically,  trying too hard to make everything wonderful when the world around is less and less safe, secure, and wonderful, sharing her life and experiences along the way of her life’s journey to help the generations navigate the reality of life today.  You not only get the parents and children involved, but you get the Boomers involved too.

Disney Channel executives, are you listening?







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