Recently, I had the (sarcastic) pleasure of watching a new series on the Disney Channel called Andi Mack. By the time I had seen the series, there were about 3 episodes that had aired, and like most shows on this station, they all played back to back so I was able to watch all 3, right then and there (yay me!).
For those of you who may not have children, or who have not seen the show, let me give you a quick synopsis. Andi Mack is an intelligent, 13 year old Asian girl who lives with her parents. I mentioned Asian because I thrive on diversity and love the fact that the main character is “out of the norm”. Andi has two close friends, Cyrus (male) and Buffy (female), and of course a boy crush whose name is Jonah. One day, Andi’s older, free-spirited, rebellious big sister comes home on a motorcycle for a surprise visit. Andi’s older sister (Bex) has decided that she no longer wants to travel the world, living her wild child ways, she would like to move back home to spend time with her family.
As Bex and Andi spend time together and catch up on life, Bex talks to Andi about being true to herself. They share experiences, talents, stories and even photos of things the other has missed during their separation. Bex encourages Andi to talk about her feelings for Jonah, who actually already has a girlfriend that is in high school, and during all of this bonding, Andi eventually discovers that Bex is not her sister, she’s actually her mother (say whaaaa)!
Now here is where Drama Mama comes in to play. Drama Mama is the name that I refer to myself when I feel like I am about to be overprotective or overreact to something that pertains to my children. Drama Mama means well, as most overprotective parents do, and she only wants what’s best for her child(ren).
I watched this show with my 10, 9, and 8 year olds. It was on a weekend and it aired on Disney Channel some time during mid-afternoon. These are all things that usually tell me I’m ok with what they are watching. Disney Channel is “child friendly”, the show is playing on a weekend, when children are home, and it’s in the afternoon, when children are awake.
I have watched several different Disney series with them and love shows like Jessie, Good Luck Charlie, and Casey Undercover. All of these shows offer attention grabbing plot lines from adopted blended family, to a family with many children, and even a family full of spies. We enjoy watching these shows as a family, and I feel like there is enough suspense and excitement to hold the attention of all my children, especially since their ages range. This is the first time that I have felt like the story plot and the level of drama was too dramatic to be a children’s TV series.
Let me explain my issues. This TV series not only introduces adolescent pregnancy to my children, but there are also scenes where these middle school children are having the dating problems of a mid-twenties adult.
For example, Andi’s crush Jonah, who is also in middle school, has a jealous girlfriend who is in high school (Amber). Amber sees Andi and Jonah spending a lot of time together and decides that she is going to “mark her territory” by doing things like fake crying for Jonah’s attention, writing her initials on him and convince Jonah to let her wear the bracelet that Andi made for him.
Why? What happened to being independent and loving yourself? I do realize that crushes and “dating” happen a lot sooner than when I was in school. I am not in denial, hell, one of my sons got married in 1st grade on the playground using a broken zipper loop as a wedding band. Was I invited? Nope, not at all. My feelings were hurt, but I moved on.
Needless to say, I totally understand that times change, but do we want to send the message to our children that when things don’t go our way, we should manipulate other people to alleviate our insecurities? Or better yet, give them the impression that it’s ok if you get pregnant at a young age, I will take care of your baby and raise it as my own while you live your life?
I THINK NOT!!!
This may just be Drama Mama being her usual self, but I prefer to teach my children that if someone doesn’t love you for who you are, then they don’t deserve your time and attention.
I thought Disney Channel was all about inspiring our children to be the best individuals that they can be. The Disney Channel I know gave children the courage to dream, let them know that anything was possible with hard work and dedication. I didn’t realize that it was turning into PG reality TV with secret babies, young moms, love triangles and jealous girlfriends, I may as well let my children watch Love and Hip Hop or whatever show has the drama equivalent.
Before people get themselves in an uproar, I do realize that it isn’t Disney’s job to raise my children. I do monitor what they watch on television, and in most cases I am watching it with them. I talk to them regularly about knowing the difference between real friends after they have been convinced to do something that got them into trouble. We also discuss having confidence in ourselves. I encourage self-esteem and I’m definitely not that “everyone gets a trophy” type of parent. I do my part when it comes to teaching morals and we don’t even have cable TV at home, in fact, we were actually on vacation when we watched this show. My point is I had higher expectations and the network as a whole has disappointed me.
After watching the show, I talked with the children about what they had seen. I wanted to get an idea of their perspective on the show. My two younger children didn’t even realize some of the underlying messages that were being portrayed. In their opinion, they thought things like a secret baby and a sister who is actually your Mom were funny. Andi was lied to, her family kept a major secret from her for many years. She spent all this time not knowing that her sister is her Mom and her Mom is actually her grandmother, talk about betrayal.
These are real life issues that people face today and I don’t see the humor in being lied to for all of your life. I definitely don’t see the purpose of the type entertainment that it would bring to a child.
I have not seen any other episodes since we left from vacation, and I have also discussed with my children that I felt like the show was too mature as well as inappropriate for them. Now I’m “Mean Mom”, and that’s fine. I realize that there will be many more times where my attempts to protect (or overprotect) my children will backfire. This isn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last. But as for this show, it doesn’t give the type of messages that I want my children to receive, so they will not be watching it.