The Disney Channel norm has always been to display typical kid-friendly shows: Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Phineas and Ferb and many others. With a majority of Disney shows characterizing typical lighthearted and casual themes, the channel now welcomes a new series with a rather unique twist to it. “Andi Mack,” premiering on Friday, April 7, is a new series revolving around a young teenage girl who is at a stage of self-discovery, and is told an unexpected secret by her older sister Bex, causing different changes in her life. The show adds a twist by focusing on an Asian-American family while also honing in on aspects of teenage pregnancies.
Implementing an Asian-American family as the central focus of the show increases the ethnic representation in mainstream media that other TV shows fail to convey. Junior Adriana Getman mentions how Disney has always struggled with this and it is a good thing that they are choosing to change that.
“It seems interesting, it seems out of the norms of a Disney Channel show, which is good. I also think it’s important that they’re casting Asian-Americans because I know that’s been a problem in terms of representation in Disney Channel,” Getman said. “There should be different types of Asian-Americans that are represented.
As a part of the Asian majority at Monta Vista, junior Angela Win discusses the lack of ethnic diversity represented through these kinds of platforms, and notices the step taken towards changing that on the channel. Win explains the impact it has on her culturally, in which Disney Channel has finally began to represent her ethnicity.
“I feel like as an Asian-American, there’s no representation of my people on TV whatsoever, and if there is, then its very small minor parts and they’re just put in to make sure that it’s not all white people,” Winn said. “It’s finally representing a whole family of it.”
Generally speaking, a majority of television show viewers tend to fall in different racial categories, whether it be Chinese, Caucasian, Indian or Hispanic. Whenever junior Rucha Bhise watches TV shows, the racial minority tends to be misrepresented and stereotypical, and finds the need for shows to separate stereotypes from who they actually are as American-born citizens.
“The one example I can think of is Raj from “The Big Bang Theory,” and he’s a very stereotypical Indian guy, and obviously not representative of most of the people that watch the show who are Indian,” Bhise said. “So if they’re able to kind of incorporate them just as normal people in the media that would be a really good way to appeal to young Asian-American children.”
Including a greater sense of racial diversity isn’t the only progress made by the show, as the series also involves the taboo topic of teenage pregnancy. Such topics are rarely discussed or even acknowledged in TV shows as they are generally directed towards entertaining the youth. “Andi Mack” manages to capture the importance of this issue in the series and accentuate the reality of this silent topic.
“I think it’s important that kids are exposed to those kinds of themes and topics because they’re not really explored, especially in Disney Channel shows, which try to be really clean,” Getman said. “I feel like a part of their responsibility is exposing them to parts of life, so that way they’re not judgemental of people.”
The legitimacy of teenage pregnancy is much more critical than how the media expresses it; it’s a lot more common than most realize. Even Monta Vista isn’t entirely exempt from this kind of situation. The awareness raised by this TV show brings attention to quieter social issues, which has been a common struggle in the mainstream media. The educational benefits of exposing the reality of teenage pregnancy is impactful, especially towards young children who are influenced by what they watch.
“I’m also really glad that they’re actually hitting on that kind of stuff because that [it]is really prevalent in today’s society, and most TV shows are too scared to talk about that kind of thing,” Win said. “It’s not something that should just be hidden away because people don’t like the topic.”
Bhise adds on to this perspective with how impactful the educational benefits can be; it teaches children different components of teenage pregnancy, from learning how to avoid it to understanding certain causes and taking away the negative stigma revolved around it.
“It’s definitely important for kids to know that they exist and the reasons that they could happen, and how to avoid them if it’s something you want to avoid,” Bhise said. “Take a little bit of the negative stigma away from it if it’s not something controllable; so it depends how Disney decides to go with the storyline, but if they do a good job of educating children, I think it’s a good way to go.”
Pictures from imdb.