Andi Mack’s LGBTQ Storyline Is Revealed

Thursday the news broke that Andi Mack would be receiving the first coming-out storyline in the history of Disney Channel (or any live-action American kids show, for that matter). I saw the headline and knew that it had to be Cyrus.

If you’ve watched the show at all (which you really must, as it’s fantastic), you probably guessed Cyrus would be receiving the storyline as well. I was hoping it would happen as I watched Season 1, as all signs pointed to it. Joshua Rush, the actor who plays Cyrus, was adding quirks here and there that I absolutely related to every time I caught them. The excitement of having a girlfriend, even when you knew it wasn’t in a attraction way. Feeling super awkward around the cute popular guys. Never understand “bro” stuff. Feeling super self-conscious being called girly. He played every one of those situations with great finesse, but also with an underlying understanding that there was more to Cyrus than what was being said aloud.

Friday night Andi Mack returned for a 2nd season with an hour-long premiere. The moment occurred about 20 minutes in and once Buffy sat across from Cyrus at The Spoon, I knew it was coming. The music stopped. The emotions were high. Take a look:

I didn’t expect to cry, but I did. A lot. I don’t think a tear has rolled down my cheek in at least 3 years. It was a combination of so many things. It was knowing that so many kids will watch this and it will help them realize something about themselves. It was being proud that Disney was the one to break this ground for a children’s program. It was relating to that moment. It was seeing that strong support system from Buffy (the fab Sofia Wylie) was in place. It was hearing “You’re No Different.”

The cast of the show has been using social media to express support for the storyline and understand the weight of this monumental scene. They’ve been using #YoureNoDifferent and that is such a strong message within this context for the network.

I was stunned at how much weight the moment had within the episode and how it was handled. Joshua’s answer to “Do you like Andi?” was so powerful that it hit me like a brick wall. It had so much behind it. That feeling of knowing that the truth is about to come out, and the reaction from the person could go very wrong very fast, but not being able to say anything in response. It was fantastic. He couldn’t even get the word “no” out of his mouth, as he didn’t want to say anything that could insinuate anything to Buffy.

Buffy’s comforting, yet forceful “You’ll be okay. I promise,” made the tears flow even faster. He has a strong support system in place which will make this personal journey for him so much easier.

Later in the episode, they touched on some topics that excite me for the rest of the season. They touched on competing for the same boy (in a light hearted way). Cyrus brought up having a “cover-up” girlfriend, or rather, just getting a girlfriend when he’s coming to terms with his own sexuality. Buffy realized, very quickly, that the coming out process isn’t a one-and-done situation and he’ll have to be patient with Cyrus as he comes to terms with himself more and more. It was all superbly done.

I know that if I saw this as a tween, I don’t think I would’ve been as combative. I wouldn’t have felt the need to suppress the word for years, even though I knew, deep down, it was true. I would’ve found my own Buffy, gone to her, and helped be my true self.

I didn’t expect to feel so proud of a character or so emotional. I am not one to cry over things, but I’ve cried three times over the scene. THREE.

I hate saying the word proud in these cases, as I have no relation to these cast members or “ownership” of the show, however I can’t find a better word to describe my feelings. I am so proud of the cast and crew of Andi Mack for tackling this storyline. I’m proud of Terri Minsky for making sure this aired on Disney Channel. I’m proud of Disney for airing it and bringing in GLAAD and other LGBTQ representation groups to work on getting the plot just right. I’m proud of Joshua Rush and Sofia Wylie for being at the forefront of this storyline and being incredible at revealing all the emotions surrounding it time and time again. I’m just proud.

I’m looking forward to the conversations this will bring up. I’m looking forward to see how this plotline continues. I’m looking forward to crying more.

 

 

 

 

“Big Hero 6 The Series” Premieres November 20th

After a solid year of previews, clips, and hints at what’s to come. However, we officially have a premiere date! Monday, November 20th at 8pm on Disney Channel and Disney XD will be the premiere of Big Hero 6 The Series: Baymax Returns.

The one-hour premiere will focus on Hiro’s recreation of Baymax using the chip he finds at the end of the film. (Sorry if that spoiled anything, but you’ve had 3 years to watch. I have no sympathy for you.)

Here’s the official description of the premiere from Disney:

“Set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo, “Baymax Returns” explores the moment in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Academy Award-winning feature film after Hiro believes that his compassionate, cutting-edge robot Baymax is lost in the portal forever and discovers the chip his brother Tadashi designed to create Baymax. 14-year-old tech genius Hiro begins school as the new prodigy at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology and sets off to rebuild Baymax, but his overconfidence and penchant for taking shortcuts leads him and the newly minted Big Hero 6 team – Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go and Fred – into trouble.”

Well, that sounds like a fun start! After the one hour premiere, we’ll have to wait a few months before actual episodes start premiering. Early 2018 will see weekly episodes released on Disney XD, but the Disney Now app will have two episodes premiere immediately following the one-hour episode.

All I know is that I’m excited. The clips we’ve seen are great and the intro song has been stuck in my head for months. Be sure to check out the premiere on November 20th!

“Tangled: The Series” is Straight-Up Exceptional

While Ducktales is the current Disney Television Animation darling at the moment (and understandably so, as it’s 2-part premiere was fantastic), we all seem to be forgetting how utterly fantastic this year’s earlier entry Tangled: The Series is and continues to be every episode.

As I type this, I have just finished “Pascal’s Story,” the 11th episode of the series. The preview from last week already had me prepared for a lot of emotions, and boy did it deliver. We were finally treated to how Pascal and Rapunzel became friends.

SPOILER ALERT, BUT HONESTLY, READ ON ANYWAY WHETHER OR NOT YOU’VE SEEN THE EPISODE.

Baby Pascal, arguably the cutest thing to ever exist ever (Step aside, Pua!), was placed on a lily pad and sent down a river by his mother to protect him from a giant snake, therefore sacrificing herself for her child. So, at this point, I’m already a mess.

He makes it to the tower and the two become close as they only have each other and it’s a beautifully directed and constructed friendship montage. We move to present day and Rapunzel is so busy that Pascal feels like their friendship is over. (I get it, bud. She didn’t have time for you and that stunk on ice.) He decides to run away back to the tower.

Okay, so, the tower. Yeah. That tower. The detail and emotion in that scene was so spectacular that it gave me goosebumps. No one has been there since Flynn died, so it’s eerie to say the least. Her long brown locks still cover the floor, the knife used to stab Flynn lay by the window, weeds had grown throughout the room. It was a lot.

At the core, the story was about friendship, which quite moving. It was done so well, especially considering one of the two in the friendship can’t talk.

That is just one example of how this show is killing. The writing is truly top-notch in the comedy and drama departments. My current favorite line is Flynn talking to Punzie: “I’ve couldn’t stop thinking about two things all day. ‘What is chutney?’ and You.” I spit my water out the first time I heard it. Last week’s “One Angry Princess” episode was constructed like Law & Order, to which I gasped once I realized they were committing so hard to the joke.

Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi are obvs fantastic reprising their roles from the film, but the new cast adds a lot. Richard Kind is sensational as a local baker. Eden Espinosa plays Cassandra with hard outer shell, but a soft inner one that you have to dig to find. Jeremy Jordan and James Monroe Iglehart also bring great warmth and humor to the show with their respective additions.

The animation style is gorgeous and makes you wish that animated series could be nominated for Production Design Emmys. The theme song is also a big winner and consistently puts me in the greatest mood. I like to screlt (scream/belt) “WITH THE WIND IN MY HAIIIIIIRRRRR!” in locations that it’s not necessary just to see people’s reactions at this point. I have recently dyed my hair blonde and I believe that subconsciously, it was to become one with Rapunzel.

If you haven’t been watching, I highly suggest you check it out, especially the two most recent episodes as it has really found its groove. The messages are fantastic, but you’re never beaten over the head with them. AH, this show. It’s phenomenal.

Head on over to Watch Disney Channel or the app to catch-up on Tangled: The Series!

Bug Juice is Returning to Disney Channel

Dear fellow millennials, your OG reality and/or Disney Channel obsession is heading back to the network next year. Bug Juice, the series following kid campers at summer camp, is making a triumphant (yet, completely unexpected) return to Disney Channel in 2018.

For those unfamiliar (Hello, youngins! Hello, oldins!), the show premiered in 1998 and followed campers at Camp Waziyatah in Maine. The following two seasons the location changed, but the idea stayed the same: watching kids being kids in one of the few places they have a large amount of freedom.

The new season will also return to Camp Waziyatah in Maine and follow a new group of campers as they live in cabins, eat at the mess hall, and disconnect with the world for weeks at a time.

I vividly remember the show and the ads for new episodes during Lizzie McGuire commercial breaks, where they were all sitting by a campfire. I really enjoy when reality TV tackles kids (Discovery Kids’ Adventure Camp was an obsession of mine when I was younger), so here’s to another serving of Bug Juice!

Let’s Discuss “Descendants 2″…

We were all treated to another trip to Auradon and the Isle of the Lost this past Friday with the premiere of Descendants 2 and it was a time. While you can find my proper review over on LaughingPlace.com, I had many a spoiler-filled thought during the film that I thought we’d break down as a collective unit. Let me know in the comments if you had and of the same reactions I did.

SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

  • Opening with a dream sequence is a…choice. It does work though, thanks to a super fun song (teaching kids across the world how to spell wicked, just like “Did I Mention?” taught them how to spell ridiculous. Is the Descendants franchise actually an English class? Discuss.) and prime Kenny Ortega choreography. Those apple moves tho. Related image
  • Love. Blonde. Mal.
  • I need a GIF of Mal going “She multitasks” and flipping her hair more than I need the ability to breathe. I will use it for all occasions.
  • Why is everyone all about the magic wand? I mean, I’m here for that being the symbol of all power, especially since it’s owner is a delightful middle aged woman, but you would expect something a little more over-the-top.
  • Chad is a tool. Chad is a caricature of every and all fraternity brothers across this country and I’m obsessed. He’s misogynistic, full of himself, and I’m over him. Honestly, have you ever met a decent Chad?
  • Lonnie has quickly become my favorite character. Her mom is Mulan, so that’s a win, but that line where she’s all “If my mother thought like that, she wouldn’t have won the war” had me slayed into a new dimension.
  • “What’s My Name” is a jam and if you don’t agree, you are free to leave.
  • The greatest part about this movie is either Harry Hook or Harry Hook’s arms. I’m having the hardest time deciding. Image result for harry hook gif
  • Dizzy is flipping adorable, Lady Tremaine’s Curl Up and Dye is a fabulous pun, and I’m obsessed with this entire scene. Dizzy’s “Great. More sweeping.” was a masterclass of sarcastic acting. She must’ve learned from the Raven-Symone School for Sarcasm.

  • Lonnie’s presence is making this rap battle less bizarre. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but it was a tonal shift, to say the least. Also, that Harry Hook evil laugh is my new ringtone.
  • We all going to ignore Dude talking? Yeah. K, great.
  • Carlos asking Jane (finally!) is adorable and sweet and if that doesn’t work out, honestly, I’m available.
  • Truly, I would wear anything Carlos wears out on the town. His wardrobe is sick. Also, Lonnie’s pant number for cotillion is my new aesthetic.
  • This final twist is cray (Uma is one slippery villain), but this final “battle” is a little…odd. Uma just swims away? She must have something up her sleeve for a third movie, ’cause I don’t trust anyone who works at a Fish N’ Chips place.
  • “You And Me” may be the greatest finale song for a DCOM ever don’t @ me. Also, choreography in two inches of water is the Kenny Ortega work we deserve.
  • Dizzy is going to Auradon! I’ve never been so happy for a fictional character! Also, can she cut my bangs a little shorter?
  • Uma’s “What, you thought this story was over?” was ominous and exciting. Give me Descendants 3, like, yesterday. Still waiting on the call to be Hades’ son.

You can rewatch Descendants 2 on WatchDisneyChannel.com.

Cheetah Girls 2: Celebrating 10 Fierce Years

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. This article originally appeared on LaughingPlace.com in April of 2016.

August 25th, 2006 was the date. I had just started the fifth grade at a new school. I was rezoned to an elementary school that was needed, but wasn’t built, so the campus was made up entirely of portables. Instead of the kids I had grown up with, it was a smattering of students from the area. Those first weeks of school were rough for all of us. We had a new campus to get accustomed to, along with new friends, new teachers, a new curriculum, etc. There was one thing that connected many of us, however, and that was the all-important DCOM Cheetah Girls 2.

That night the film premiered, followed by the world premiere Vanessa Hudgens’ first music video “Baby Come Back,” and I went bananas. I called my friend Victoria during every commercial to gab about what was happening. The Monday we returned, most of us in my AGP class had memorized lyrics and choreography already. We then proceeded to recreate scenes from the movie at recess.

For those unfamiliar, the movie followed four girls who had a music group to a singing competition in Barcelona. Tensions were high and sabotage from other performers was present as they set out to bring their act around the world and to make their success go global. It starred the Queen Emeritus of Disney Channel (and if I have anything to say about it, Disney Legend inductee?), Miss Raven-Symone.

Now, let’s talk very quickly about Raven because she ruled Disney Channel during this time. That’s So Raven continues to be the best Disney Channel original series of all-time. Cheetah Girls 2 is the best musical DCOM they’ve ever released. She also had multiple singles and albums (most of which I sing to myself in my room on a daily basis) with music videos that played all the time, “Some Call It Magic” being my fave. She was everywhere, and for good reason, since her talent is incredible. I love CG2, but I LOVE Raven Symone.

I made lifelong friends from the Cheetah Girls 2 obsession (HEY LAUREN HEY! FABULOUS SNAPS FOR DAYS!). However, it not only changed my fifth-grade experience, it changed Disney Channel.

On August 25th, 2006, Disney Channel solidified itself as the Queen of Musicals. Cheetah Girls, the original, did well. HSM did extremely well. Those two could have been flukes, but the ratings success of CG2 (actually beating HSM as the most watched DCOM of 2006) made it known that the movie musical was back to stay. Not only was it back to stay, but Disney Channel was the only one that could make the ratings successes happen. With that, we received Cheetah Girls 3Camp Rock 1 and 2, High School Musical 2 (the third being released in theaters), Teen Beach Movie 1 and 2, and now Descendants. Nickelodeon tried to compete, but theirs were nowhere close to the television blockbusters Disney produced. Do you remember Nickelodeon’s Rags? Exactly.

While #HSM10 was a huge deal and I still miss the days of singing “We’re All In This Together” at lunch with friends (Wildcat Claw, Wildcat Claw, Punch Right, Punch Left…), Cheetah Girls 2‘s 10th anniversary is the one we should be celebrating — it changed the face of Disney Channel.

 

Raven-Symonè: My Idol

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. This article originally appeared on LaughingPlace.com in December.

For those unfamiliar with my blog and writing, you may not know that I am 20 years old. (If this is the first article you’ve read by me, sorry for my abrasive tendencies, love of capitalization for emphasis, and my constant mentions of Bunheads.) Being a millennial and a child of the early 2000s, I grew up during the Disney Channel Golden Age. This, being a self given term, was when every sitcom was firing on all cylinders, every DCOM was an event, and when the stars of the channel were the biggest names in showbiz.

I grew up with a vast knowledge of Hannah Montana’s discography (It’s still there, too. “I Got Nerve” is her best track and I will fight you on it.) I grew up knowing Taran Killam before SNL (Looking at you, Stuck in the Suburbs). I grew up counting the hidden Z’s in Zenon: Z3 to unlock the bonus content online.

There was one person, however, that I grew up with that truly shaped me into the person I am today, and her name is Raven-Symonè.

That’s So Raven was the pinnacle of television comedy for me, and frankly still continues to be. The chemistry between Raven and her costars (I love you Anneliese Van Der Pol!) was the best Disney Channel has ever seen. They never seemed scripted. Their comedic timing was top notch, especially for a sitcom made for a demographic that doesn’t scream for impeccable line reading.

On the show, Raven showcased ability to be fantastic at verbal or physical comedy. It stills holds up, as well. Yes, she always has a vision and yes, she always gets it wrong. However, the variety of storylines they produced always kept the central idea fresh. The show was so successful, that Disney Channel allowed it to become the first sitcom on their network to reach 100 episodes. That is saying something.

On top of the successful series, she had The Cheetah Girls franchise, the Zenon franchise, a role in my favorite film of all-time (Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement) and many an album and single released.

When you hear comedians discuss who their idols growing up were, you always hear the same names. Carlin, Ball, Van Dyke, Pryor, etc. Raven is that for me. Some don’t understand how someone so young can still be an idol, but I truly believe Raven-Symonè single-handedly gave me my love of comedy.

Not only was her work on her own sitcom inspiring, but how she held herself even more so. She always is appreciative of her fame and doesn’t want to slack off. It is her job to perform and she does an incredible job at it. As someone who wants to get into the industry through comedy, it is a great message to carry around as I work towards achieving my goals.

On top of all that, we need to take a moment to talk about her music, because I am actually obsessed. I have a friend who will always play multiple Raven tracks in a row as we drive into Disney World now to get me excited for the day at the parks. Her covers are brilliant (“Superstition?” Great. “Grazin’ in the Grass?” Legendary. I sang that so much that my 2nd grade teacher probably still loathes me to this day. “Double Dutch Bus?” Don’t start playing it in the car, ’cause there isn’t enough room for me to flail from excitement.) and her originals are even better (“Backflip” is my all-time, go to jam. “Some Call It Magic” is the only song I ever requested on Radio Disney…and 2 years after it was released. #SorryNotSorry). Heck, I could write a 20-age dissertation on how the Disney Channel Stars’ covers would have failed without her riffing. (COME THROUGH, CIRCLE OF LIFE) She created an entire brand out of incredible comedy, fantastic music, and a genuineness and understanding of the business that led to my obsession and fascination with entertainment as a whole.

Why am I writing this now? Well, a few weeks ago, it was announced that That’s So Ravenwould be receiving a reboot. I was watching The View when she made the announcement and it was a lot for me to handle. She said the words “That’s So Raven 2” (or “Too”…maybe she was just citing the second soundtrack to her sitcom?) and I began to cry. This isn’t me exaggerating. I actually began to cry over the announcement.

I do hope that they allow Raven to shine on the sequel, even if the show will prominently feature her kids. While I adore Girl Meets World, Cory and Topanga are not a focal point. Raven deserves to continue to be the star, as her brand of comedy has been sorely lacking on the network and TV at large. I NEED her to get into her own shenanigans on the new show.

The show means everything to me. It’s a fantastic comedy, but also as the thing that kickstarted my love for the medium and genre. Here’s hoping I can work my way up to being on the show in the ultimate full-circle moment.

Thank you, Raven-Symonè. For teaching me how to be funny. For showing me true talent. For being an inspiration for decades. Thanks. For everything.

The Importance of That’s So Raven’s “True Colors” Episode

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday.

During my rewatch of That’s So Raven to prepare for Raven’s Home, I had the opportunity to view the “True Colors” episode. Airing in February of 2005, the episode focused on the past and present of Black History Month and the black experience in America.

The Cory plotline has him trying to write a school report on Black History Month. During an extended dream sequence, Cory meets the black icons and trailblazers of the past. It is a quick segment in the grand scheme of things, but a really important one for me as a kid. It was one of the first times I heard names like Bessie Coleman and Madame CJ Walker. In the normal elementary curriculum we are accustomed to hits the same highlights every year. Martin Luther King Jr. George Washington Carver. That’s about it. They invite around 10 different black figures who have changed the face of the globe into the Baxter house during Cory’s dream sequence.

The main purpose of the episode is to highlight racial discrimination in the workplace and how it still exists in a post-Civil Right society. Yes, you read that right. A Disney Channel sitcom tackled workplace racism and prejudice.

When Raven goes to apply for a job at the mall, Chelsea joins in. Raven aces the interview. Chelsea…completes it. When Chelsea gets the job, shockingly, and Raven doesn’t, questions arise.

A vision comes in and it shows the shop manager saying “I don’t hire black people,” and the air drops out of the room. From there, the show straight up tackles racism. It’s an important episode and one that opened up an important dialogue for kids across the country.

When the episode was released, I was in the 3rd grade. Up to that point, all discussions of Black History Month were in the past. Modern black icons were never discussed, nor was anything talked about post-desegregation. All events and people after that were ignored in school. So, even though I knew it existed, seeing a television show mention it in such a direct way was important and incredibly educational.

That was one of the first moments where my eyes were opened to the prejudices of people in the world and how racism still exists. It began an important conversation for a generation that wasn’t receiving it in school, all while still bringing the laughs. However, did we expect anything less from the show that tackled body shaming and culture-based bullying?! NO MA’AM.

 

Anneliese Van Der Pol: Underrated Icon

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. 

That’s So Raven made Raven, and understandably so, the center of attention. Her timing was spot-on and she brought all viewers along this crazy supernatural comedic ride. However, Miss Chelsea Daniels, played effortlessly by Anneliese Van Der Pol.

Chelsea is beloved, don’t get me wrong. I mean, she’s a key part of Raven’s Home. However, Anneliese deserves more credit for anything and everything she does.

Anneliese spent 4 seasons as Chelsea Daniels. I’m currently rewatching the whole series and Chelsea really has a big personality change across the run of the show. She started off as a confident best friend character at the beginning, but slowly turned into someone who is three clicks behind everyone else. She built onto the character with ease and consistently stole scenes she was in. I don’t plan on getting a tattoo, but if I did, it would just be “Do You Carry A Lunchbox?”

During her stint on the show, she wasn’t given the similar trajectory of other Disney Channel stars, which is a bummer. I still wish she had the opportunity to star in a DCOM of her own. However, we did get some incredible singles. She stole the show on two different Disneymania tracks sung by the Disney Channel Stars. “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Circle of Life” are Anneliese’s. Sorry ’bout it.

She did get to flex her solo chops on a gorgeous cover of “Candle on the Water” from Pete’s Dragon that is on my Top 5 song list. She also sings “Over It” from the DCOM Stuck in the Suburbs. Girl can belt. BELT. It’s an underrated track that deserves more credit.

Anneliese then went on to become the theatre star she was always meant to become. Beauty and the Beast closed on Broadway with Anneliese as the final Belle. Let me repeat: Girl can BELT. I wish the entire production was recorded with her in it, but at least we have this performance.

After that, she went on to star in the off-broadway musical Vanities. The show was destined for Broadway, but the recession hit and the show rode off into the sunset. The album is fantastic and her performance on “Cute Boys with Short Hair Cuts” is mindblowingly good. I hope she goes back to Broadway again in the near future, as she deserves all the acclaim and all the Tonys.

After a guest appearance on Shake It Up, she’s back on Disney Channel and I am ready for it. My beloved Anneliese is back to kill the comedy game once again. Anneliese Van Der Pol deserves the title of Disney Channel Legend.

The Perfect Raven Playlist

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. 

Raven’s Home premieres this Friday at 10pm on Disney Channel, but you gotta get pumped! The only way is to listen to some sweet Raven jams. Now, we as a society overlook Raven-Symone’s fabulous recording career and that is a damn shame.

Raven-Symone is my favorite Disney Channel recording artist ever. Her songs covered all the nooks and crannies of the pop genre and we were treated to some real gems. She was a part of the Cheetah Girls for two films, released 2 soundtracks for That’s So Raven, and had an iconic solo album in 2004 that is the score to my dreams, honestly.

I’ve created the ultimate Raven playlist you can jam to prior to Friday’s launch and beyond. Once again, the Spotify playlist will be embedded, but just click the Apple Music link to reach that playlist.

Apple Music Playlist Link