Chad Dylan Cooper, the leading star of tween drama MacKenzie Falls, has just asked out Sonny Munroe, star of hit sketch comedy show So Random out on a date. The audience cheers, as this step was long overdue, then hang on the edge of their seats to see if the date will go off without a hitch or will be ruined by Sonny’s cast mates.
If you have no idea who or what I’m talking about, don’t panic. It means one of two things: Either you’re a full-blown adult or you don’t have any younger siblings, cousins, or relatives that keep you glued to Disney Channel whether you like it or not. But trust me, you’re not missing out on much. Oh and for your information, the introduction is a scene from the second season of Disney’s Sonny With A Chance , starring someone you may have accidentally heard of, Demi Lovato.
In the past decade, Disney Channel has changed its approach majorly. Back in the 90s, emphasis was placed on wholesome cartoon shows that promoted good values amongst its target audience, children. But just like MTV dropped its whole “music channel” theme, Disney has been transformed to a teen-star-producing machine.that does not care what sort of message it gets across to the millions of children, teenagers, and their parents all over the globe.
Their current selection of animated shows makes no sense. Gone are the days of Gummi Bears, Doug, House of Mouse, Kim Possible, Scrooge McDuck and all those shows based on the hit movies, like Aladdin. Instead, we now have Phineas and Ferb, which is either too smart for me or really is pointless.
The live-action television shows are much, much worse, and I think it has to do with the Lizzie McGuire/Hillary Duff phenomena. The concept of the show was relatively simple: a teenage girl has several insecurities growing up so she projects them through an animated character. In the real world, she is supported by her best friends, one male and one female, and her family. Nothing too sophisticated about that, right? Well, it seemed to be going great, until they made The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and Hillary Duff was asked to sing. Suddenly, she was the latest bubblegum pop star. A few years later, Disney came up with a concept they claimed was every girl’s dream, leading a double life as a regular student and a pop star. I am of course talking about Hannah Montana, that gave the world Miley Cyrus, who can’t sing a single note. She was followed by Lovato, Selena Gomez, of Wizards of Waverly Place fame, and of course, the Jonas Brothers. The only sitcoms to evade this trend are The Suite Life series and That’s So Raven.
But it’s not like they’re any better. The plot lines are cringe-inducing, because we’ve heard and seen them so many times before. In some shows, they are not even realistic. Like really, we have wizards, psychics, and sensational pop stars living amongst us? We don’t. And when the reality element is played, there’s usually so much focus on creating a romantic relationship, not paying attention that most 12 and 13 year olds who watch these shows have no idea what love is and just assume it’s what they see their favorite stars doing. There’s also the fact that these shows don’t take into consideration the cultures of the various countries where the shows are broadcast. These very same 12 and 13 year olds are not allowed to date. The shows are also a mere attempt at comedy, having half-baked jokes scattered here and there, rarely making the audience laugh because of the funny factor.
I won’t even go into the marketing strategies they implement. It’s back-t0-school season so a glance around your nearest bookstore or kiddie shop should be enough to prove my point.
Sure, Disney has been delivering in terms of their large scale movie productions, especially through their collaboration with Pixar. They’ve given us incredible movies recently such as Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3. But when it comes to their original TV series, they seriously have to stop what they’re doing and go back to their old formula. Many of us can recall just how amazing Boy Meets World was, because it taught us a lot about life and love, while making us laugh. The Feeny call that Eric is so famous for will be long fixated in our memories, as well Corey and Shawn’s buddy relationship that may have been the basis of Turk and JD’s relationship on Scrubs.
Here’s that Feeny call I was talking about. Enjoy!