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TV Series Review

Things change a lot when you turn 13. That's true for almost everyone, but it's especially true for Andi Mack.

When Andi was 12, everything felt pretty simple. Sure, she had her share of struggles, but at least she knew who she was. She lived with her mom, Celia, and dad, Ham. Her rebellious older sister, Bex, would sometimes float in for a day or two until she and Celia got sick of each other.

Andi had her friends, too. She had her school. She had her first unrequited crush: a guy named Jonah. See? Normal kids' stuff. Simple. Not great, but at least she had some constants she could hold on to.

Then, on her 13th birthday, she has a real surprise party. First, Bex announces she's moving back home. (Surprise!) Then, Andi learns that her "sister" is actually her mother and her "mother" is actually her grandmother (Surprise again!).

Yep, for Andi Mack, even her relatives are relative.

Andi's Two Moms

All of this relative chaos throws Andi for a loop. What should she call Celia these days? Should she treat Bex like a mom, even though she's essentially been gone for 13 years? If Bex lets Andi stay up late and watch old Twilight Zone reruns but Celia tells Andi to go to bed, who does Andi listen to?

"It's like this adventure I didn't even know I was on," Andi says.

But for all the uncertainty she feels, and for all the strangely malleable family dynamics at work, Andi's still got a family. And a loving one at that. That's a certainty she can count on, even amid her "relative" instability. She also has a bulwark of middle school friends she can turn to when things at home get just too confusing or her friendship with Jonah gets just too frustrating.

Signs of the Times

For years, Disney's television division has made a mint on its cookie-cutter live-action sitcoms. They weren't always great shows, mind you. But they were relatively inoffensive. Most followed a tried-and-true formula: Take a charismatic lead, surround her with a wacky supporting cast, blend in a follow-your-dream conceit, add some wise-but-unobtrusive parents and spice with lots of corny jokes. Voila! Instant hit.

Most of these shows had reasonably nice messages about friendship, family and doing the right thing, too. Sure, none of these series ever said anything too substantive, but those messages were at least there.

Andi Mack marks a departure from formula—or, if you'd rather, a return to Disney's early sitcom days, when clever, sometimes insightful shows such as Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens ruled the Mouse House. (It's no coincidence that Andi Mack's creator, Terri Minski, was also the mind behind McGuire.)

Andi Mack is not cutting-edge television. It still follows half of Disney's formula to the letter: Talented lead in her early teens? Check. Zany sidecrew? Check. Strong-if-fleeting positive messages? Checkity-check-check. It also (apart from some short skirts and some occasional toilet humor) keeps things remarkably clean—something you rarely see outside the confines of … well, the Disney Channel.

Andi's Ambitions

But this sitcom has more ambition than most of the cable network's other recent shows. It has a more serialized vibe, too. In fact, Andi Mack feels more like a pretty clean teen soap from the likes of Freeform or the CW than a standard Mouse House laugher.

That comes with some caveats, of course. The themes here are more mature than we’d expect, including a possible flirtation with same-sex attraction by one of Andi’s friends. And obviously, Andi's home life breaks the Disney mold, too. But if not everything in the show is positive, Andi’s odd family is, in its own imperfect way, heartening.

Obviously, an ideal family consists of a mom, a dad and some kids. Focus on the Family believes that that's the sort of family that God designed, and that it still serves children the best.

But not everyone is so blessed to be born into such an ideal family. Divorce and separation are a part of life. More than a few of you belong to untraditional families. Some of you, like Celia, may be raising a grandchild as your own. A few of you, like Bex, are trying to renew a relationship with a son or daughter you barely know.

Families are wonderful, but they can also be difficult. Things happen. We make mistakes. Life goes on. And with God's help, we try to make the best of whatever comes our way. If Andi Mack has a central message, it's this: It's OK. In the midst of the chaos and disagreements and uncertainty and even fighting, love can still be found.

By the ninth episode, Andi still doesn't know why her birth mother left. Celia and Bex don't even agree about what happened 13 years before—or why Bex left at all. But Andi suddenly gets the impression that Celia kicked Bex out. Furious at the woman she's called "Mom" for 12 years, Andi storms off to her room.

As she clomps up the stairs, we see something interesting: Bex touches Celia's arm. Celia covers Bex's hand in hers. They both watch Andi leave the room, concern etched on their faces over their daughter.

In that moment, even in the midst of all their differences, we see that they both love Andi. And that, imperfectly perhaps, they love each other as well.

Yep, things sure can change when you turn 13. Sometimes everything seems in flux, even your own family. But Andi Mack tells its viewers that even in such flux, there is a constant to be found: love. And you know what? That's a pretty good message.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Andi Mack: June 2, 2017 "She's Turning Into You"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Andi Mack; Joshua Rush as Cyrus Goodman; Sofia Wylie as Buffy Driscoll; Asher Angel as Jonah Beck; Lilan Bowden as Rebecca "Bex" Mack; Lauren Tom as Celia Mack; Stoney Westmoreland as Henry "Ham" Mack

Director

Distributor

Network

Disney

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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