Sydney to the Max





Emily Clark
Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Middle school is hard. Just ask Sydney Reynolds. Fresh into seventh grade, Sydney has a whole new world to navigate: new school, new relationships, new hairdos. Good thing she has her best friend, Olive, along for the ride.

She has a family to turn to when things get tough, too: Single father Max is very loving, pretty silly and sometimes forgets that he was once a kid himself. Good thing Max has his own mom, Judy, to remind him of his past debacles as he perfects the art of parenting.

Fun to the Max

Disney’s latest tween-based show gives viewers a light, fun look at three generations living under one roof. While the focus is primarily on Sydney and her BFF Olive, each episode shows flashbacks to Max’s own childhood in the early 90s. When Max is tempted to forget similar middle-school experiences, the flashbacks show how Max handled the very same issues that Sydney must face.

Made by Disney, Sydney to the Max is probably far cleaner than most real-world middle school experiences—and cleaner than most shows, too. But it still has a few issues to think about. Kids make jokes about getting sick and sometimes call each other names. Jealousy, gossiping and lying are all evident. Kids also develop crushes and learn to navigate tricky personal and school situations. But most importantly, by the show’s end they work through every rough patch and find a happy ending.

Episode Reviews

March 23, 2020: “Father of the Bribe”

When Sydney’s dad, Max, bribes her coach to get her a spot on the fencing team, she proposes a rematch to make sure she really earned her spot. In the past, a much-younger Max and his friend Leo go behind his mom’s back to get a videographer job.

Students fence. People lie and bribe to get what they want. A boy is pushed into a chocolate fountain, ruining his clothes and angering his mother. Sydney and Olive reference a popular novel with an evil sorcerer. Judy jokes about cats being witches. A young Max attends a bar mitzvah. Someone says “oh my gosh.”

March 29, 2019: “The Lyin’ King”

Sydney returns to school after a week of being sick to find that BFF Olive has made another close friend, Robin. Both girls become jealous of Robin’s attention, vow to not be friends with her, and then hang out with her behind the other’s back. In a flashback, Sydney’s dad, Max, lies to his best friend, Leo, about making the basketball team.

Three girls try to be friends, but they also lie to one another, struggle with jealousy and gossip. Kids joke about throwing up, and parents make jokes about being loud and obnoxious. A boy tells a girl that he has a crush on her. A young male basketball player rips off his pants to reveal shorts. A boy says “dang” and “stupid” once or twice.

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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