by A.M. Kinross:
Homosexuality in a TV series targeting Tweens: Disney’s “Andi Mack” is a comedy-drama television series created by Terry Minsky (the creator of Lizzy Maguire) that premiered on April 7th, 2017 on the Disney Channel. The second season began on October 27, 2017. The cast of actors range in ages from 13 to 16 years old. The main character, Andi Mack is played by 13 year old Peyton Elizabeth Lee of New York. The topics covered in the show include a variety of real life topics in today’s world. For example, she finds out in Season one that her mother is actually her grandmother, and her sister is actually her mother, who was only a teenager at the time that she gave birth to Andi Mack.
The TV family is a mixed race, Asian and whites. Lee was cast as the main character which is what led the producers to determine the ethnicity for the rest of the family. This show is definitely not a fantasy world. It’s more of an example of real life teens going through real life issues, tough times, and even crushes. After watching some of the first episodes, it reminded me of a show that I grew up watching called The Wonder Years.
If you’re old enough to remember that show, you can remember that the characters Kevin, Paul, and Winnie Cooper experienced similar real life issues as teens, such as struggles with family issues, acceptance, and first crushes. The characters in The Wonder Years were even about the same age; eighth grade or so. I remember how adorable it was watching Kevin, played by Fred Savage, having such a huge crush on Winnie Cooper, and then thinking about my own first real life crush when I was 13 years old. I grew up watching Disney, and watching time and time again where the handsome prince came in and swept the fair maiden off of her feet, and then made her a princess. Disney back then really did create a fantasy world. It made just about every girl in my generation wish that there really was a handsome prince for her, and a happily ever after. Almost every girl that is, except for the ones that didn’t want a handsome prince. But those were the days of “Don’t ask don’t tell”, when the threat of someone different than us wasn’t a threat because “the threat” was kept in a closet with the door shut tightly, and we could safely pretend that homosexuality didn’t exist.
Sexuality in television shows geared towards preteens and teens have been in existence for my entire life. It never bothered anyone when eighth grader, Kevin Arnold gave Winnie Cooper her first kiss on screen. But back to the topic on hand, there does seem to be some paranoia going around about Season two of Andi Mack, where a teen boy deals with a crush on another boy. Nickelodeon Junior or “TeenNick” did this more than five years ago, so maybe Disney feels that they need to finally acknowledge something in real life teens that isn’t going away, and is no longer in a closet.
As a viewer there are probably a range of feelings and opinions about portraying a young teenager who has feelings for another teenager of the same sex. Some don’t feel that homosexuality has a place on children’s network’s; some feel that portraying a homosexual character on a show geared towards preteens and teens is inappropriate, and will cause confusion in children who haven’t decided if they are gay or straight. Some simply don’t like the idea of their children learning that there are kids who are homosexual. Some are more comfortable when shows only portray the idea that it’s okay to have a crush as long as it’s on the opposite sex.
Whatever your opinion is about this issue – you are certainly entitled to have, but censorship on the topic of homosexuality in our up-and-coming generation is no longer something that is going to be in a closet. We can try to shelter our children from the outside world as much as we can, but the real world is not just on our television sets. The real world is in our schools, at the mall, and in circles of friends.
If the particular topic of Homosexuality or even Sexuality is something that you are not ready for your child to know about, you can still be proactive in sheltering them to some extent. You have an incredible amount of control over editing and monitoring the programs that your child sees; it’s called parental involvement. The world (like it or not) has become a place that no longer upholds only traditional Christian values. Modern media, radio, Internet and other outlets have all realized that there is a much bigger world outside the box than the one that my generation grew up in. Maybe allowing our kids to feel safe being who they are by airing a show about inclusion and respect for humanity isn’t the worst message that a network could send, but regardless of the networks choices, you still have the ability to monitor what your child views. If you don’t like the show, then don’t let them watch it. Keep in mind though that your children can’t be sheltered and protected from the realities of the real world forever. So maybe talking to them about it and other “not so everyday topics” will help them have a clearer understanding of the world outside of your home, and will better prepare them for the world than isolating them from it will. The silver lining to this show could be seen by the parent of a child who is different from the other kids in his class. Topics just like these might be the very thing that keeps him from wanting to kill himself; or think he’s unlovable, or unlikable, or weird. It also might teach acceptance and prevent bullying. In the end, a “Crush is just a crush”, and if it’s been acceptable for the last forty something plus years to show crushes and sexuality on television shows geared towards teens, then maybe nothings really changed except for the players.
To view more of Season two of Andi Mack, watch the video below: