By: Catherine Lencione

Children’s media has changed a lot in recent years. From the groundbreaking ideas in Adventure Time, to the socially progressive Steven Universe, to the investing mysteries of Gravity Falls, children’s television has been breaking the mold in a positive manner. This is also true in the case of the live-action 2017 hit from Disney Channel, Andi Mack.

[Spoilers Ahead]

Andi Mack, a young Chinese American girl turning 13 at the start of the show, begins to discover some secrets that were held from her once her sister Bex returns home. Andi and Bex begin to bond over Bex’s travels since she’s been gone for so long, but secrets start to unravel when it’s revealed that Bex is really Andi’s mother and her mother Celia is really her grandmother. The show becomes a real coming of age story about growing up, family, and change.

Andi Mack has been a show the Disney Channel needed ever since the days of Lizzie McGuire were done–a more grounded show that allows drama to be a part of the story as much as comedy. They allow the preteens to deal with issues such as teenage pregnancy, cheating in relationships, family troubles, and as of season 2’s premiere, the idea of same sex crushes.

What makes this show work is how the characters are written. In most TV shows written for a preteen audience, the characters usually have at least one or two notable traits that are exaggerated for comedic effect and writing that can be seen as dated. The writing on Andi Mack reflects how young preteens talk today while still making the characters three-dimensional. The emotional scenes still pack a punch by allowing the scenes to become melancholy and quiet. One scene that reflects this beautifully is in the premiere episode of season 2, where Andi’s friend Cyrus reveals to Buffy that he has feelings for Jonah, the love interest of Andi. The scene works because of how it plays out, showing that Cyrus is absolutely terrified with how one of his closest friends will react and how supportive Buffy is with this secret.

The show is still going strong with stronger development for the characters, deeper themes being delved into, and an engaging story both young and old audiences will enjoy. Television has been getting better for younger audiences as of late, and Andi Mack has been a highlight of this past year and showcases how willing Disney is to take more chances and go outside of their comfort zone.