The Evolution of Disney

The theme songs bring back memories. The Kim Possible theme song (call me, beep me if you want to reach me) was my ringtone when I first got my pink Razr cell phone. I even named my dog after my favorite Disney television show, Lizzie McGuire.

We may still be teenagers, but we can feel old. Even Stevens began 13 years ago, Lizzie McGuire 12, Kim Possible 11, That’s So Raven 10 and Phil of the Future nine. Shia LaBeouf has a whole section devoted to his “legal troubles” on his Wikipedia page, Hilary Duff is married and has one child and Ricky Ullman, or Phil from Phil of the Future, just celebrated his 27th birthday. Do you feel ancient yet?

Illustration by Evi

Everyone could identify with these early 2000s teens even if they had the ability to see the future or were from the year 2121. These shows hold a special place in the heart, because they were the first “big kid” shows we got to watch. No more Barney or the Telly Tubbies–we were little adults.

“Lizzie McGuire was always my favorite T.V. show. At my age, she seemed so old and cool. Plus, I was really jealous of all of her outfits,” said senior Hannah.

My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw current photos of Josh Peck from Drake and Josh; he grew up very well to say the least. I am sad to report, however, the evolution of Disney shows in the past years does not mimic the amazing progression of Josh Peck.

Kids are maturing a lot quicker these days, and freshman Mercer believes this is one contributing factor to the radical differences in Disney Channel shows today.

“I don’t think as many kids watch Disney channel anymore,” said Mercer. “They grow up a lot quicker and go straight to the more adult channels, so Disney has to take their shows to the next level to compete.”

The stars of the current shows no longer only appear in our pre-teen magazines such as J-14 or the Tiger Beat, but they constantly make the cover of tabloids for their scandalous escapades.

“My mom has a theory that the teenagers on the new shows have become more rebellious and disrespectful to the parents and the friends on the show to provide unnecessary drama,” said junior Allie.

“The adventures or shenanigans the characters got into in the old T.V. shows were more humorous, and the friends stuck together.” said Hannah. “Now it’s all about fights and melodramatic moments to liven it up.”

Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, So Random! and Good Luck Charlie make up the present Disney era. The main actresses in these shows, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, all have extensive media coverage that uncover their less-than-Disney-clean lives. Their private lives end up tainting the shows they act in as well.

“The shows don’t have as good of morals as they used to or good examples of friendship,” said Mercer.

We can trace, however, origins and connections between the old and the new Disney generations. Hannah Montana resembles a combination of The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Kim Possible. Just like Lizzie, Hannah gets to live out her dreams as an international pop star, and, just like Kim, she leads a normal life where nobody knows her secret identity. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is a modern adaptation of Drake and Josh. Of the two brothers on each show, one is cool (Drake and Zack) while the other is a bit dorky (Josh and Cody).

Overall, these shows attest to the extreme and rare aspects of adolescents.

“The new shows always have to be so extreme in every sense. The personalities are ridiculous and they live these unrealistic lives,” said Hannah.

As teenagers in the 21st century, we don’t benefit from a lot of positive teen obsessions. We’re stuck with Justin Bieber, One Direction and Honey Boo Boo. Yet, we must remember the silver linings of our childhoods. You simply can’t get better children television shows than the ones from Disney that we all loved.