TV Series Review
There's really only one singing, dancing, pratfalling part of Hollywood where the old studio system is still alive and well: the Mouse House. Nobody excels at cranking out formulaic, tween-centric sitcoms and grooming bright-faced stars quite like Disney does.
Case in point: Good Luck Charlie.
For four seasons it has served as a throwback to wacky family sitcoms with a traditional family at the center. Mom (Amy) is exhausted but still wearily smiling. Dad (Bob) is a lovable bumbler. Younger brother Gabe is a raised-eyebrow wisecracker. And Disney sitcom vets Bridgit Mendler ( Wizards of Waverly Place) and Jason Dolley ( Corey in the House) round things out as spunky sister Teddy and slowish older brother PJ (respectively).
Oh, and then there's Charlie, of course, who started out as an infant and is now a precocious 5-year-old and an elder sister (of all things) to an even younger brother, Toby.
Every episode involves Teddy recording a video diary entry designed to guide her baby sister when she gets older. Teddy usually abandons the camera pretty quickly, though, since she's a little too obsessed with boys and getting kissed to stay completely focused on Charlie. And the producers have to make time for random silliness, too, as Mom and Dad fumble about cluelessly … and sometimes carelessly. The accompanying (slightly out of key) soundtrack, if you will, is composed of a smattering of mild gross-out jokes, even milder sexual double entendres and bits of inane slapstick violence.
Not a bit of that is out of step at all with those old-school sitcoms I mentioned earlier. But even in the surreal land of situation comedy—even Disney situation comedy—the landscape is changing.
"While you were busy reading your 27th think piece on Macklemore performing 'Same Love' at the Grammys and [HBO's gay dating dramedy] Looking being boring, something actually kind of monumental happened," wrote The Daily Beast entertainment writer Kevin Fallon. "The Disney Channel featured its first gay couple on an episode of one of its original series. Good Luck Charlie, one of the network's most popular original comedies, featured a lesbian couple [in its Jan. 26] episode. The plot was refreshingly innocuous, but pointed enough to let it be known that it was, you know, kind of a big deal that a Disney Channel series aimed at young children was taking this step."
It is kind of a big deal—big enough to prompt One Million Moms to make Good Luck Charlie an "action" item, asking members to let Disney know how they felt about the inclusion.
"Conservative families need to urge Disney to avoid controversial topics that children are far too young to comprehend," a statement from the culture-watch group said. "This is the last place a parent would expect their children to be confronted with topics that are too difficult for them to understand. Mature issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, and it is extremely unnecessary."
It's also a big deal for many families who've come to trust the Disney network and its stable of previously stable sitcoms. And it's certainly a big enough step that the creators of Good Luck Charlie did not take it lightly. A Disney Channel spokesman said of the episode, "This particular storyline was developed under the consultancy of child development experts and community advisors. Like all Disney Channel programming, it was developed to be relevant to kids and families around the world and to reflect themes of diversity and inclusiveness."
So the Good Luck Charlie decision to feature two moms is indeed a milestone, both for the culture at large … as well as for families making everyday decisions about entertainment discernment, about what to watch together (and talk through) and what to watch not at all.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Bridgit Mendler as Teddy; Jason Dolley as PJ; Bradley Steven Perry as Gabe; Leigh Allyn Baker as Amy (Mom); Eric Allan Kramer as Bob (Dad); Mia Talerico as Charlie; Matt Prokop as Evan; Calum Worthy as Lewis