The actors, the characters, the set– I love everything about the show. I sing along to the theme song. I love the group of four friends, finding their way in the world. I love how they question the world around them because of an inspirational teacher, and that they realize their learning situation is unusual and incredibly special. I love that when something changes, it influences future episodes. For example, in the episode “Girl Meets Yearbook,” each friend struggles with who they are and how they are perceived. Farkle changes based on what he learns, and doesn’t revert back to his ‘old’ self. Two episodes later, his wardrobe is still the newer version. People change; it’s a fact of life. Sometimes it happens slowly and sometimes they make a decision that speeds it up. Riley, Maya and Lucas have had to deal with the latter issue, and it shows.
“Girl Meets Creativity” is my favorite season two episode so far. I love all of them, of course, but this one touches on something close to my heart: teaching and the role of the arts in education. Budget cuts affect the arts first, and that’s something our favorite middle schoolers are having to deal with in this episode. Maya, who struggles academically but finds confidence through her art, is especially hit hard. Instead of moping or giving up, they fight for what they think is important. But they don’t fight unfairly; they don’t vandalize or suggest other cuts. They take the high road, and they research their opponent. They know it is going to be a tough battle, but they use their skills to show the school board why the arts are important. This episode epitomizes what I love about the show as a whole: it’s a group of friends, finding their way together, while discovering how fine that line between right and wrong really is.
The second reason I’m so GMW obsessed? The show represents a turning point for Disney. Up until this point, their tween/teen programming has been lacking an authenticity that’s incredibly hard to replicate. I enjoy most of their shows, but many of them have fatal flaws that I have a problem with. So often, a character is dumbed down, or the parents are villain-ized, or the parents are dumbed down and out of touch. But both GMW and another new show, K.C. Undercover, involve the parents in a more positive way. Parents are supposed to be a positive influence on their kids; they’re supposed to be there to help guide them. GMW shows this positive behavior, and that parents at least have their kids best interests at heart. Of course that isn’t reflective of all parents, and some parents don’t play a big role in their kids lives (heartbreaking). It’s nice to see that Disney Channel is broadening the type of parents portrayed on their shows. I also love seeing Cory and Topanga’s marriage; it’s refreshing to see marriage portrayed positively at the same time as we see a single parent’s struggle (Maya’s mother) and how both situations impact the kids. Riley and Maya’s outlooks on life are directly related to their home situations, and they each have strengths and flaws as a result. But they’re both still good people, and still lovable. GMW breaks free of stereotypes in general, a bright indicator for the types of shows we can see from Disney Channel in the future.
What do you think of Disney Channel’s newest shows?