Talented kids? Lame jokes? Singing, dancing and a strong thirst for fame? It must be time to review a Disney Channel show.
Austin & Ally is the story of two cute but over-the-top teens who become an unlikely team determined to find fame, fortune and fun. They're talented. They tell lame jokes. They sing, dance and crave stardom. They fall in and out of love.
The initial setup is this: Ally is a talented but shy songwriter. Austin is a bodacious wannabe singer/performer. His steals one of her songs, records it and posts it online. Voilà! Instant fame, fortune and fun.
On another channel, this is where things would go awry. On CBS, Ally would likely sue or possibly kill Austin, turning the show into either a court or crime procedural. On MTV, she would pound him over the head with a guitar while screaming (semi-bleeped) expletives, and later the two would make up in bed, triggering vehement protests from the Parents Television Council. And on the History Channel, we'd discover that the stolen song in question was actually written by an ancient alien whose descendants are now determined to suck all the water out of the Bermuda Triangle and dismantle the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
But this is Disney (even if this particular show has a bit of a Nickelodeon twist to it). And on the Disney Channel, everyone gets along and—eventually, or at least more often than not—does the right thing. For four seasons already, these two on-again-off-again lovebirds have found a way to make beautiful music together, and almost always with a chummy hug before the credits roll. It might not be the most magical place on basic cable, but it's certainly the least objectionable.
A few storylines can make Austin & Ally feel relatively deep for Disney. Ally has struggled with stage fright. Austin has suffered from his sudden fame. But, really, this is still a Disney show, not a Mouse House version of Mad Men. Those who love Disney sitcoms will find much to like in Austin & Ally. Parents who've come to trust Disney, for the most part, will find few new quibbles here. What are the old quibbles? Infrequent interjections of off-color or bathroom humor, and characters sometimes engaging in lighthearted tweaking of authority.
Austin & Ally feels, in essence, just like almost every Disney show that's aired in the last 10 years. So whether that's a good or bad thing has more to do with the viewer than it does with the channel.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
"Spas & Spices"
Ally has been chosen by Miami Music magazine as the local songwriter of the year. It's an honor that includes an in-mag interview and a big and beautiful picture on the cover. Ally's thinking, though, that she needs to put in a little work to make sure the photo doesn't end up being big and not-that-bad-except-for-that-one-little-zit. So while Austin picks up her outfit (in between helping Dez with his chili cook-off) Trish treats Ally to a "beauty" day at the spa where she (sort of) works.
And everything goes exactly as planned. Not.
Trish, being Trish, knows her job about as well as a monkey knows long division, and every staining, frizzing, gluing and torturing spa disaster you might imagine befalls poor Bride of Frankenstein, er, Ally. As for Austin, he gets caught up in a chili shoot-out between Dez and his archnemesis.
Of course it's all just another crazy day for the teen pals who laugh off the calamities. So just about the worst thing we can report here is that Dez proffers two mild gags about bodily reactions to hot chili.
"Zaliens and Cloud Watchers"
Austin hates the new song Ally wrote for him but doesn't quite know how to tell her. Friend Trish suggests complete honesty, while Dez suggests sidestepping the whole issue and giving her a pickle basket instead. Austin goes with the latter, but the truth comes out anyway. After Ally chastises Austin for not being honest, the two decide to hang out together more so they'll understand each other better: Ally encourages him to watch clouds with her and her cloud-watching club, while Austin drags her to a horror movie-fest.
Viewers receive lightly peddled lessons on the value of telling the truth, and how our similarities and differences can help bring us together. However, we also watch the love ooze out for schlocky and gory horror flicks as characters talk about how zombie-aliens suck their victims' brains. A theater usher gets worked up about people littering during the fright-fest: "That better be a real eyeball [on the floor], not a gummy one!" he tells a patron.
Austin presents himself as a guy who breaks the rules, and he encourages Ally to lighten up and flout a few too. He and she run away from a security guard while stealing and/or rescuing a goose. Austin tells two mild scatological jokes.
"Wedding Bells and Wacky Birds"
As part of a class project, Austin and Ally have to formulate a budget for a wedding. "Ally," Austin says in class, "will you make me the happiest person in life skills class and fake marry me?" But when Ally's called away to record a new single, Austin is forced to do most of the work alone—and he fears that it might be a sign of things to come if they shared a future together. (In a dream, Ally isn't even present for the birth of their octuplets.) Meanwhile, Dez gets a gig directing a commercial, but he's aghast when he discovers that his ex-girlfriend, Carrie, is in it.
Carrie is slated to appear opposite a well-built, tank-top-wearing dude who complains that one of his pectoral muscles might be bigger than the other. He asks for a second opinion, flexing both of them all the while. The "threat" of an onscreen kiss makes Dez terminate the commercial early.
Speaking of k-i-s-s-i-n-g, Austin and Ally touch lips during their wedding presentation. And Dez and Carrie discover they never really broke up, so they promptly rub noses.
Readability Age Range
Ross Lynch as Austin Moon; Laura Marano as Ally Dawson; Raini Rodriguez as Trish; Calum Worthy as Dez; Hannah Kat Jones as Carrie