This article contains spoilers.
Disney has been a solace for young children everywhere for years, with the company’s comforting characters roaming theme parks eventually progressing to populating the screens in homes.
Disney Channel first aired in 1983 with the series “Good Morning, Mickey!” The series was a sequence of Disney animated shorts that continued the Disney phenomenon originally started by the opening of the company’s theme parks. Over the years series have come and gone from the channel, giving boosts to the performers that started there.
“Andi Mack,” one of the more recent releases on the channel, follows a group of friends, Andi Mack, Buffy Driscoll and Cyrus Goodman, on their trek to survive middle school and everything else life throws at them. Mack, the main character, kicks off the first season with the discovery of shocking news that her supposed older sister is actually her mother.
Left stunned after the encounter, she turns to her friends for assistance as to how she should handle the situation at home, as well as her dilemma with her seemingly hopeless crush on schoolmate Jonah Beck. Throughout the first season, the show addresses controversial topics typically ignored on the platform, including protesting their school’s dress code policy, discrimination against natural ethnic hairstyles and accepting one’s sexuality.
During the premiere of the second season, Mack isn’t the only one admitting to having fallen for Beck, for Goodman does as well. This scene is the first coming out plot point features in an American based Disney show, the first ever scene having taken place on a British based Disney series entitled “The Lodge.”
Goodman admits to having a crush on Beck, sharing with Driscoll his self-characterized “weird” feelings and altered self-view in his confession. Driscoll responds encouragingly, “Cyrus, you have always been weird, but you’re no different.” Disney clearly expresses that being attracted to the same gender is not a choice and is not some type of change that occurs overnight in the carefully scripted scene.
Disney furthers the progressive nature of the show by not defining Goodman’s sexuality, only stating that he is attracted to another boy. Doing this does not only break social norms but helps to define them as well.
Most can agree that exposure to anything other than the present heteronormative society has made it difficult for those of other identities to feel safe when expressing their gender, sexuality and other aspects of who they are that don’t fit the standing norms. Not defining Goodman’s sexuality opens up a conversation; not everything needs a label. Disney has widened the conversation and aided the normalization of attraction regardless of gender, an aspect that is not conveyed enough.
Many are anxiously awaiting the next episodes to see how Disney chooses to continue this new plot development. Through “Andi Mack,” Disney has begun to embrace the progressive terms the series is broadcasting and broaden the conversation for discussion of neglected topics.
Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company