You need to watch Disney’s new show by the creator of ‘Lizzie McGuire’

While everyone was either raving or ranting about 13 Reasons Why over the Holy Week break, I, a mature 20-year-old, was in my cave watching Andi Mack, Disney’s new coming-of-age sitcom.

Before you go on and judge me for watching a kid’s show, let’s look at its synopsis: Andi is a 13-year-old girl who finds out that her sister is actually her mom and her mom is actually her grandmother, making her whole life kind of a lie. Andi has to process that information while struggling with all the pains that come with growing up (think: sports! boys! friendships!). It still builds on that typical formula on the surface, but the teen pregnancy arc makes it pretty groundbreaking material for a Disney show.

As a sucker for all the coming-of-age teen girl shows of the late ’90s and early 2000s (Lizzie McGuire practically raised me), I ate the first three episodes up. Andi Mack resurrects all that I loved about the old Disney the awkwardness of growing up mixed in with petty crush drama and lunchtime real talk. There hasn’t been this much authenticity and relatability in a Disney show since, well, Lizzie McGuire (with the slight exception of Girl Meets World, R.I.P.).

It’s a step in the right direction for Disney, so it’s a shame no one’s talking about this gem of a show. If the synopsis wasn’t convincing enough, here are some reasons why you drop everything and watch Andi Mack.

It’s by Terri Minsky, creator of Lizzie McGuire.

If the name brings back fond memories of orange bouncing balls and the opening riff of “We’ll Figure It Out,” it’s because she’s the same person who created Lizzie McGuire. BRB, we’re just calling Terri Minsky to write the story of our lives.

The cast is diverse, and not in an “in-your-face” kind of way.

There were no big announcements declaring “Hey, look at us! The protagonist in our series is of Asian descent! And she has a best friend who’s Jewish (and who might be gay)! And another best friend who’s African-American! Look how diverse!” The show was simply marketed as a new coming-of-age sitcom with complex, relatable characters.

It’s filmed on-location and not in some studio lot.

Disney began experimenting with the studio-location filming format with That’s So Raven in 2003, and eventually stuck to it for almost all their original shows starting from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody in 2005. While that kind of style worked in that time, it just makes everything seem too contrived nowadays. Andi Mack is filmed in a real house in a very normal-looking teen bedroom, with emphasizes how they’re real characters with real problems.

It respects the intelligence of its target demographic.

The writers know that middle schoolers aren’t dumb. Aside from subtly tackling teenage pregnancy, one of the main characters Andi’s best friend, Cyrus might be gay. There were no fart jokes or snarky lines said just for the sake of a good laugh (er, laugh track), either.

It’s got 13-year-olds making pop culture references.

Andi’s best friend is named Buffy, as in the Vampire Slayer, a connection she acknowledges in the first episode. There’s also a Beyoncé reference and a period joke somewhere down the line.

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