Not Much Done with Buffy & Cyrus
Buffy and Cyrus often times seem like obligatory characters to show Andi has friends. They sometimes seem bound to the show just to react to what Andi did or didn’t do. Much less complicate her life a little bit from time to time.
I mean, there are some attempts at making Buffy and Cyrus seem like they have autonomy, but it is a mixed bag. For every Marty storyline, there is Cyrus and Iris (Molly Jackson). Someone who seemingly got forgotten and we got reminded of so Cyrus could perhaps break up with her.
But alongside that, with Buffy, you are left questioning who is raising her? For this is something triggered by that hair episode. Now, being a Black person, though not a parent, I know I would flip out if the school told my daughter she had to change her hair. Especially because it was considered a distraction. For, all things considered, Buffy’s hair is not voluminous at all. She has loose curls which barely raise an inch or two off her head. She has that generic “I’m bi-racial” look to her.
And what really makes that whole situation worse is that no one shows up for her. I mean, Bex helps her with her hair, especially after she gives herself a bald spot, but we don’t see a father, mother, aunt or uncle, or even grandparent show up. They don’t thank Bex nor confront the school. Which really bothered me because we hear about Cyrus’ four psychologist parents every other episode. We can understand, without meeting one of them, who is molding him and how. Yet, with Buffy, all we know is one parent works and travels a lot. Thus giving the impression that Buffy is but a token. A required Black character.
Who is Ham?
Though perhaps the least developed character is Ham. He is quiet, stoic, and even when on screen he sort of fades to the back. We know he can be silly and Bex definitely was a daddy’s girl, but he is rarely involved. In fact, outside of pushing Bex to tell Bowie he has a kid, I don’t think he had any real storyline.
On The Fence
Disney Growing Pains
Bowie & Amber are representatives of old Disney tropes evolving. Bowie is the silly and borderline idiotic dad. Yet, Disney upgraded him to be just a bit more bohemian and eccentric vs. an outright extroverted idiot. Then with Amber, she begins as your generic blonde adversary. The type where the only thing missing was there being some note of how Andi used to be friends with her. But she too evolves. She becomes this insecure figure you sort of want to pick apart. Not in a violent way, but perhaps better said – deconstruct.
For Amber as a villain is more criticized than what I’m used to for shows like this. Maybe because she isn’t feared, or because you are actually given reasons to feel bad for her. After all, she is a high school girl dating a middle school boy. Of which, there is this power dynamic which reminds you of the traditional older man with a 20-something-year-old woman. One in which you feel the need to ask about Amber’s insecurities, why and how she got with Jonah, and more.
This especially becomes something you question as you see how Amber attacks Andi and how she manipulates Jonah. For in the season finale, she openly trashes the thing Jonah loves to seemingly win the approval of a high school boy. Much less, in episode 5, if not 4 we see her entertaining another boy. Really making it seem that the validation of a relationship is what Jonah is there for, but he isn’t that ideal. He isn’t the one she wants but a placeholder until she can get what she has been desiring.
Overall: Positive (Watch It) – Recommended
I really thought after Girl Meets World, I’d not only be done with Disney but likely shows that cater to their demographic. Yet, Andi Mack changed that. With a sense of realism in how it handles families and relationships, and it not being a straight-up comedy, it got me. And while, yes, Buffy, Cyrus and Ham do need some work, there is enough of a foundation laid out to build off of. Plus, at least for Buffy and Cyrus, by the end of season 1 you can see a juicy storyline for season 2. Be it Buffy having the type of relationship with Marty that is #RelationshipGoals or Cyrus coming to terms with his sexual orientation.
Thus leading to why this is being marked positive, alongside being recommended. Andi Mack adjusts to what is considered the “age compression” of this generation. It takes the baton from Girl Meets World and addresses the fact that kids at 13 today aren’t the same as kids at 13 more than 20 years ago. Certain topics, ideas, and lives are becoming increasingly common to them. And while Disney, naturally, isn’t going to have the sex talk on their network, it doesn’t shy from real issues.
Hence why Buffy’s hair being an issue was addressed, the sexualization of girls just because they wear leggings, much less the idea of a boy being not only gender non-conforming but possibly gay. Which I won’t say Disney Channel handles with the nuance we sometimes saw on ABC Family, but even with its growing pains, we see a real effort. One which shouldn’t be missed.