Mike’s review of Disney’s Andi Mack. The show featuring the network’s first openly gay character.

As soon as I heard that Disney was breaking new ground by having a LGBT teen storyline featured in one of their TV shows, my interest was piqued.

I hadn’t heard of the show prior to this news. The show was just about to begin its second season, so I decided to watch the whole of the first season, and then catch up with the second one.

My first impression of the show is exactly what I had feared it would be. A stereotypical Disney kids show.  It had the polished and cheery (nothing ever seriously goes wrong in this world) vibe to it. And to be honest I just didn’t click with Andi (not a great thing considering she’s the main character of the entire show, right?) The actress who plays her really overacts. It’s quite off-putting at times.

The plot also seemed a little too simple, and the characters a little ‘two-dimensional’. Still, I was a little curious about how Disney was going to handle the gay storyline, so I decided to just put aside my grievances, and just enjoy it for what it was. It’s not that it was terrible or anything.

I slowly made my way through the first season, watching an episode every couple of days. And then something happened, I suddenly found myself caught up in the drama of the story and curious to find out what happened next. One day I managed to go from being about several episodes in, to being up to date with where the show is currently. That wasn’t particularly difficult to do, the episodes are only twenty-or-so-minutes long.

As the show progressed, the character storylines developed, as did the characters themselves. The show deals with a lot of rather large issues (besides just LGBT issues that is). Such as adoption and finding out your ‘parents’ aren’t really your parents. Absentee fathers.  Family reunions. Love triangles, and families going through financial difficulty.

I’m still not really a fan of the actress who plays Andi. I think the actress who plays her friend, Buffy (Sofia Wylie), is a much better actress, and would have suited the role of ‘Andi’ much more.  But that’s just my take on it. Others may differ.

As far as Cyrus, the gay character who’s in love with his best friend’s boyfriend, Jonah. It’s pretty much hinted at from early on that they knew where they were taking this character. His personality, interests and friendship with the two girls, and lack of friendship with any boys, kind of suggests that he might be gay. It’s kind of stereotypical, I know, but that’s how TV shows and movies work.

I can see a love triangle developing between Cyrus, Andi and Jonah. But I don’t think Jonah’s gay though, so I can’t really see it going anywhere. Hopefully Cyrus will find a nice boyfriend of his own, in time.

The ‘coming out’ scene itself happened in the show, recently, and in the real world, some more culturally backward parts of the world reacted (as expected) negatively to the storyline.

The show has been banned in Kenya, in reaction to the LGBT storyline. This kind of reaction has made me even more committed to supporting the show (although I am now enjoying the show anyway).

Disney should also be congratulated. Granted, merely having LGBT characters and storylines, in an ideal world, wouldn’t be such a big deal. But reactions like that from Kenya (and even some bigoted, ignorant parents in the US) shows us how controversial the subject still is in many parts of the world, and so Disney deserves all the credit for not shying away from it.

It’s crucial that kids and teens understand that there’s nothing wrong with them, should they be gay, bisexual, transgender or any other sexual orientation. It’s also important for straight kids to understand this too. Shows like Andi Mack help highlight that message.

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