Disney Channel programming has always sought to reflect to kids life lessons and important journeys of self-discovery. Now, for the first time ever, the cable network is tackling another crucial part of adolescent discovery — realizing and accepting one’s sexuality.
Andi Mack, which is about to begin its second season on Friday, follows the tale of 13-year-old Andi Mack (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) as she comes of age alongside her trio of best friends, which includes Cyrus Goodman (Joshua Rush). Jonah Beck (Asher Angel) is Andi’s longtime crush, but her best friend Cyrus will soon begin realizing that he also has feelings for Jonah. When he confides this to their other best friend Buffy (Sofia Wylie), he finds an understanding and supportive friend that the network hopes will serve as a role model for both kids and adults. Throughout the rest of the season, Cyrus grapples with his continued journey of self-discovery alongside his friends Buffy and Andi, as well as how to tell his new girlfriend and more.
This story arc is the first of its kind for the cable network, and it was devised with input from child development experts. The season premiere episode was also screened in advance for organizations like Common Sense Media, GLAAD, and PFLAG. Disney Channel claims they’ve aimed to craft a story that maintains their signature brand of age-appropriate storytelling while building a narrative of inclusion and kindness.
“Andi Mack is a story about ‘tweens’ figuring out who they are; Terri Minsky, the cast and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity,” a Disney Channel spokesperson said in a statement.
Disney’s first gay kiss aired earlier this year on Disney XD’s animated series Star vs. the Forces of Evil. The scene took place at a concert where the band played a romantic tune that inspired many couples in the audience to kiss; a few of those couples — none of which involved a main character — were same-sex. The television event was followed just a few weeks later by LeFou’s coming out in the theatrical release of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
The Walt Disney company also released a statement regarding Andi Mack‘s stories and characters, writing, “The Disney brand has always been inclusive, with stories that reflect acceptance and tolerance and celebrate the differences that make our characters uniquely wonderful in their own way. We constantly strive to live up to that legacy by continuing to create and share compelling storylines from our studios and media networks that entertain with inspirational and aspirational themes and reflect the incredibly rich diversity of the human experience. Our stories are timeless because they speak to the heart; our characters appeal to children across gender, ability, and experience because they’re defined by kindness, loyalty, humor, courage, wit, and other traits that make a good friend. Disney remains committed to continuing to create characters that are accessible and related to all children.”
Andi Mack season 2 premieres at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27 on the Disney Channel.