Andi Mack - Season 3 Review / Series Recap
Well, everyone, here we are. This is the last time I’ll get to speak, probably in a while, about the Disney Channel series, and one of my favorite TV shows of all time (at this point), Andi Mack.
As we reminisce about the great many things that make Andi Mack one of the best kidcom shows in recent history, I figured it would be fitting for me to first reminisce about Andi Mack’s final season.
Frankly, I found this season to be a little more jagged than the first two seasons. There were times when the narrative of the show tried to go on at a steady pace, but then gets stopped by a few special episodes before moving onwards. However, when all is said and done, I didn’t find them too jarring or contrived; it felt like these special episodes still kept in character and felt succinctly tied into the overarching narrative while also taking its time to teach its viewers about some unique aspects of life. As always, I admire forms of entertainment, especially those made for kids, that hold nothing back and are not afraid to address otherwise uncomfortable topics to the kids so they’ll get a better understanding of what they saw.
Just like in the last season, Andi Mack provides interesting subplots for the characters – at least, as many as it can provide us – including:
– Bex and Bowie expressing budding uncertainties about their marriage-to-be. They were initially excited to be married, but after giving some thought over this, as well as what kind of an effect this would have on themselves, as well as Andi, they just decided to call off the wedding. This was a truly insightful, very interesting way to show how anyone would feel when they were getting set to be married, and how they would feel about being bonded by marriage to the one person he or she loves forever. If anyone has someone to lean to when having the wedding jitters, this is a good place to start.
While I don't remember off the top of my head what Bex contributed in terms of memorable character expositions or experiences in this season, Bowie had a few interesting moments to shine of his own. In one episode, his mother came by to check in on Bowie, much to his embarrassment. The mother was a sweetheart who made cookies for the entire Mack family, and even Andi found herself really admiring her. It was nice to see some of Bowie's family, though I'll admit, I wish there was more to be done with them.
In another episode, Bowie even had to deal with the temporary return of Miranda and her daughter, Morgan, from the previous season. When they arrived, it was because Morgan was interested in taking guitar lessons from Bowie, and because Miranda was taking sessions on being a better mother. But then, Morgan ended up going missing, and after Bowie searched for her almost all over town, Morgan surprised him by hiding in the bush, with Miranda admitting that she likes to play hide and seek. Cue the Bowie Dumping Mark II, please. Once again, when fair intentions (if any) collide with a borderline incompetence over parenting, actions speak louder than words.
– Cyrus himself went through some interesting ups and downs throughout the season. One time, he went out with TJ to get to meet his motorcycle buddies. And at first, they started to get along quite nicely. However, it changed when he noticed that the boys intended to go through shooting practice with a gun, with watermelons as their targets. We don't even see the gun, but you can tell just how serious this was judging from Cyrus' firsthand reaction to seeing it for himself. This led to some of the most powerful moments in the show, when Cyrus tried to talk TJ out of hanging out with guys like them and report what he was shown to the school board.
Fortunately, he went through some more extravagant situations in yet another powerful moment when, at his grandmother‘s funeral, he was able to tell Jonah, who was in attendance, that he was gay...word for word. Much like “Hey, Who Wants Pizza?”, this was subject to much celebration among the fans who expressed delight that Cyrus was able to tell Jonah his true feelings AND that Disney was one step closer to equality in mainstream entertainment. He also went through another high moment - a rather humorous one, in fact - when he tried to go full-fledge lawyer on the student board when he tried to defend TJ, who was accused of hijacking a golf cart, which was part of school property, when he was really using it to give an incapacitated Buffy a lift to her next class. This was part of yet another interesting subplot concerning Cyrus, where he and TJ started to get together more and more, until it got to a point where we, the fans, started to wonder if they'll be together as friends or as a gay couple.
– On Jonah's first Harvest Moon Festival with Andi and her family, Jonah and the others engaged in a lantern lifting ceremony where they put in their innermost wishes into their lantern and let them float away. Jonah’s wish, however, fell off and Andi was able to catch it in time to read it to herself. It wasn’t until the middle of the season when Jonah admitted that his father lost his job and it put him and his family at a stressful financial condition which, by extension, turned out to be the source of his many panic attacks. At that point, you would really have felt for this guy. You're left wanting to see him find help or counseling to ease him and his panic attacks. Things, of course, got trickier for him when he had a more complicated love life. First, he started hanging out with Libby, a girl who was deaf and spoke in sign language, but then, sadly, that didn’t last long. So then, because of that, he started going back to dating Amber, much to the chagrin of Andi and her friends. Yet, that became even more complicated when Jonah barely responded to Amber via phone messages, and this started to worry Amber. It got to a point where Jonah asked Cyrus, who helped Amber previously with her therapy sessions, to make up excuses to her, such as that Jonah was late for chess lessons under Cyrus. When Amber played against Cyrus, she quickly beat him at chess, not only telling him how skilled she was at the game since she was young, but that was all she needed to find out that he and Jonah were lying. This felt very compelling, and what’s even more amazing is that in the first season, whenever Jonah and Amber were together, it always felt like Jonah was with the wrong girl. In this season, however, you actually feel a bit disheartened to see their relationship start to slowly fall apart. That’s a sign of good storytelling centered on middle school romance.
– For some strange reason, I thought the way Andi was handled in this season was a little ... not degrading, but just downgraded a little. She kind of felt more like our eyes and ears for what we witnessed about the characters throughout the show. Of course, that started to wear off for the better when she attended a kindergarten reunion and she was seen as nothing more than a pretty, different face, mostly because of her heritage. This inspired her to take action and make an art collage from the Andi Shack, and the collage turned out to be just piles of artifacts scattered in front of you, whereas if seen from up on top, it's really a portrait of Andi made out of those artifacts. This was a good and obviously very creative way to express that there are more to certain people than meets the eye. It ended up being so good, that Bex was inspired to show Andi a nearby high school that might be her best fit called the Shadyside Academy of Visual Arts, or SAVA. I won't give away what happened in the series finale, but all I can say is that it signaled an entirely new direction for Andi and her friends to go.
Despite Andi being slightly uninteresting before her art high school subplot, I do remember when she developed some possible feelings for the artist, Walker, and how uncomfortable she felt whenever he was with Buffy, one of her closest friends. It even got to a point where she even admitted it to Amber when the two of them went out canoeing together. What I found so interesting about this dynamic is that Andi, when it came to romantic feelings, got put in a position where she was pitted against one of her friends over the affections of another, not to mention that she was developing a bond with who was originally her archrival, also as far as romance was concerned. This resulted in several interesting correlations occurring among these characters. In fact, Andi and Amber got along so well, that Amber brought Andi with her to a dance occurring in her high school. As in, the kind of high school dance where anything can happen, even when we don’t see all of its activities in the show. Needless to say, the idea was still there. This, of course, led to Andi being lost in the middle of the high school dance, and she not only called Bowie to come and pick her up, but also was given a talking-to by Bowie about going to such parties as these. If anything, these all, albeit in a more subtle way, tied into Andi’s struggles with where she fits into the world. Whether her parental revelations had anything to do with it or not, that is nonetheless a part of growing up, and that is what this show does well.
– Now, Ham, AKA Pops...I don’t remember him having as substantial a role in this season as he did in the first two seasons, which is a shame because of how the actor, Stoney Westmoreland, was arrested for arranging for sex with an underage minor...in the middle of the season! It saddens me when a show like Andi Mack was left with some bruises inflicted by the illegal actions of one person, and it still sickens me to think that someone like Stoney would do that. In fact, as soon as I heard about his arrest, it left me wondering what was going to become of his character due to his departure, and the fact that the actor‘s leave from the show was permanent only added to my curiosity. Assuming the worst, I expected him to be killed in a car accident or something; I mean, knowing Andi Mack, I would have expected it to not shy away from this possibility. But then, after about six or seven episodes of Pops being absent, nearly without any explanation, it was then stated that he retreated back to India for more guru practice with the assurance that he’d be back soon. This felt like a very appropriate and in-character way to send him off, and I am relieved to hear that the Andi Mack writing crew knew how to adjust things the right way in the face of such backstage drama.
Cece didn't feel like she left behind as much of an impact here as she did in the first two seasons. I mostly remembered her being this sassy lady who always made wisecracks about Andi or Bex or Bowie. Don't get me wrong, she's funny that way, but I still wish there was more done with her. Although, given the whole Stoney situation, maybe that complicated the whole potential she would've had.
– Buffy, just like Andi, had a fair share of interesting turmoil underneath an otherwise uninteresting long-term impression. Like I said, she started to have feelings for Walker early in the third season, leaving Andi slightly green with envy. But, even then, her friends caught on to that and even staged a quote-on-quote 'secret club meeting' that ultimately concluded with Walker proposing to be her boyfriend. Unfortunately, she rejected him, and soon after, she started to hang out more with Marty, one of her friends from early in the show, until she was finally tempted to tell him how she really felt about him.
Love wasn't the only thing flaring up in her life, though. She was also trying to climb her way up into becoming the captain of the school's first all-girl basketball team. There were some bumps in the road; one, Buffy had to deal with a clash with her (temporary) teammate Kira, whose bossy exuberance onto their teammates did not jibe well with Buffy. Things didn't go any easier when Kira later hung out with TJ just to spite her and especially Cyrus. And two, her team was not the most consistently orchestrated sports team at first. That was when Buffy decided to, for lack of a better word, step up her A-game and buff up her team so they can win their first championship. Not as engaging as her story involving her military mother in the last season, but it still made for a nice, enjoyable personal journey for Buffy.
As uneven as I thought the third season was, for more reasons than one, this was still a fun, consistently interesting season that concluded with a very nicely wrapped bow that also gave the right amount of closure for the series.
Which now leaves me with a more pressing question: how do I feel about the series altogether? Well, that’s a little hard for me to describe, since I already talked this show nearly to death over my thoughts on its first two seasons.
The only nitpick I have is that because the story of Andi’s lineage was so interesting, I was hoping that some time would be spent to go more in-depth on it. As in, have Andi go on a journey of self-discovery and uncover more of her lineage and history behind her parents' union and her birth. One of the episodes that started to grow on me the most was ‘Mama’, where some light was shed on what happened when Bex left Andi under Cece’s care before leaving for 13 years. I just wish there were more episodes like that to dive even deeper with, and that the same thing could've been done on Bowie’s side of the family. But like I said, that’s just a nitpick compared to what the rest of the show accomplished.
Everything that it did well, it did really well. The characters were amusing and really interesting, the story continually drew me in, the subplots on the side characters were really complex and in-depth, and the issues it brought into discussion were really timely and should be super helpful in broadening its demographic audience’s perception of the real world. This was one of the best shows that ever aired under the Disney Channel, and I am really glad to see it not only last as long as it did, but also go out with an ending that felt satisfactorily resolute. Much like the Andi Shack itself, this show was very colorful and bursting with eye-opening craftsmanship.
Season 1: A-
Season 2: A+
Season 3: A-
Works Cited Horton, Alex. “A Disney Channel Actor Arrived to Meet a 13-Year-Old for Sex, Police Say. It Was a Sting.” The Washington Post, The Washington Post, 15 Dec. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2018/12/15/disney-channel-actor-arrived-meet-year-old-sex-police-say-it-was-sting/?utm_term=.148b29944b15.