Andi Mack - Season 1
Now, I may not have followed live action children sitcoms that much, whether they're they're from Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or what have you, but the general reaction to them, from what I read, was that they just left its viewers unamused, mostly due to relying on cheap humor or just the less-than-stellar storylines that left little to no impression afterwards. Thankfully, that seemed to be changing when I read about an interesting show called Andi-Mack, and what made it interesting, besides the fact that it dealt with a just-exposed family secret, was the collective enthusiasm expressed by those who were lucky enough to see it. Due to such a strong case of cyber word-of-mouth, I felt encouraged to see it for myself when its first two episodes premiered this past April. What happened then? I. was. hooked.
Yep, you read that right. The show swept my expectations away from the very first episode thanks to the show’s solid writing and very believable characters. Before I get any further, allow me to tell you the premise of the show. It all started when a middle schooler named Andi Mack was reunited with her older sister Bex, because she came to celebrate her younger sister's 13th birthday. Bex had been away for a while then, so her arrival was met with contempt from their mother Celia...a sure sign that something happened before then that caused such a slight discord within the family. But at least it'll be a happy birthday for Andi, right? Well…Andi had two major problems to deal with that day and around then. One, there was a boy in middle school she really liked named Jonah Beck, and he was head of a school Frisbee team he put together. She had been wanting to get to know him and even tell him she liked him, but couldn't have mustered the courage to do it yet. It also didn't help that Jonah had a girlfriend from high school - of all places - named Amber, who was known to use the pun ‘Amber Alert’ whenever she stepped into the picture, and even told lies and did trickery at times to get her own way. Things started to get more complicated when she knew of Andi’s eventual involvement with Jonah. Thankfully, however, Andi had two pals on her side to soften the blow on things: an uncertain but still noble boy named Cyrus and an athletic and competitive (to a fault) girl named Buffy. Two - and this is where things really start to heat up - on Andi’s birthday she caught sight of an adorned memory box sealed up in Bex’s bedroom. She didn't know about it, but Bex and the rest of her family did, right down to what was being actually hidden inside. Due to a peak of curiosity, Andi finally managed to have a look inside the box, and this leads to what may be the most shocking part of the review…
This is where I will stop with my story expositions!
The reason for that? For those who don't know the show yet, I fear saying anymore would ruin the surprise, and you would have to see it to believe it. What I can tell you, though, is that not only was this a DEFINITE shocker to those who didn't know, Andi especially, but it may have cemented the premise of the show as being one of the boldest, near riskiest that I have ever seen of a TV show, either in general or one meant to reach out to children. Not that this is a bad thing, though; it actually helped the show do a fantastic job of teaching its audience - kids and adults alike - about real life issues or situations without going over the top about it and focusing on just the slice-of-life aspects of the show while still being mindful about its then-unearthed real life issues.
Getting back to what I was saying earlier about the show so far and in general, it had plenty of great writing - not just for the post-secret subplot, but even for the social middle school dilemmas - to keep it veiwers invested as it went along. Each one of its episodes ended on a note that made viewers like me hungry for more and want to keep checking back in. It also helped that the show is a serialized show, meaning that each episode added something new to the plot until it reached a few boiling points. The characters themselves were very well written too. They felt like real people, they were likable, and even the child characters were written with enough common sense and maturity - but not an excessive amount of it - for the young demographics to look up to and even the older demographics to relate to. For example, Buffy was a competition freak and wouldn't have let anything meddle with her chances of winning, especially if it's at track and field, but it wasn't until she met a boy named Marty, and from there, she started to question the value of victory for victory's sake when they challenged one another for a racing competition. Cyrus was a sympathetic character as he had several insecurities of around other people whether it's around other girls, or even Jonah, but he still tried his best to do the right thing. And of course, Andi tried her best to keep her head held high amidst all the overwhelming revelations and questions that weighed her down and try to find a proper balance for either lifestyle. Now part of what I can tell you about her post secret events is that it inevitably did clash with her middle school life at times, and she and Bex at least tried to uncover all the bits and pieces of Bex's past...one of which would walk to the front door later this season, I might add. As far as Amber goes…I don't know, there was something that felt incomplete about her. Now, she WAS written with enough underhandedness to be an appropriate obstacle for Andi to deal with, though I think there could have been more about her that would have made her stand out more. I remember watching a glimpse of her high school life in the season finale, and several hints of how she treated Jonah, but that was it.
Before I forget, I should mention that the writing of the show was so good and the characters so believable, that by episode five or six, I was already hoping that it would get a second season. You know the show is good when I was invested in it and hoping for another season that early. Well, fortunately, Andi Mack was indeed picked up for a second season thanks to really good, strong ratings. I guess the writing and characters reached out to tons more people across the country than just myself.
(Sidenote: I don't know if Amber is written out of the show entirely for season two or if she'll still have a role in the show, but if she does, I'm hoping that plenty more will be written about her to make her as interesting as the rest of the characters in the show.)
For those of you who haven't seen it yet, I would strongly advise you to start from the very first episode onwards so you can more easily follow the rhythms of the show. You can either track it down on the TV schedules, or, just to save you both the energy and the suspense, you can watch the whole episode through this link to YouTube. No subscription necessary; just be my guest, see for yourself, and let your own judgment do the rest.
If you have kids who like relatable child characters, or if you're like me and you like both relatable characters in general and good writing to back them up with, then dive in and check out what I feel like is a progressive step forward in children's entertainment. There may be hope yet, the more we keep this up.
Originally published on Facebook, July 2, 2017