The Downfall Of Disney Channel

Daria Paterek

The most definitive era of Disney Channel was the early to mid-2000s. The 2000s spawned renowned titles such as That’s So Raven, The Wizards of Waverly Place, and Hannah Montana. Coincidentally, Disney Channel also catalysed the careers of multiple celebrities, such as Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato. During this time, Disney Channel was known for its stellar writing, clever depiction of complex issues (eating disorders in The Suite Life of Zac and Cody or racism in That’s So Raven), and actor quality. Many factors were instrumental in the downfall of Disney Channel, and Daria explores them below.  

The Decline In Writing 

The older Disney Channel shows were well written and included realistic characters, relatable themes, and moral lessons. Current Disney Channel shows lack substance. Lizzie McGuire covered topics like the transition to high school (which many young people find distressing), friendship troubles, and eating disorders. Wizards of Waverly Place explored the importance of family and loss. Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie was a massive commercial success, garnering 11.4 million viewers on its premiere night, becoming Disney Channel‘s second-most-viewed film premiere (after High School Musical 2).

The protagonists were imperfect and did not set unrealistic expectations for the teens that watched their shows. The characters were flawed, but they were willing to learn and change for the better. Good Luck Charlie was all about a young girl who wanted her younger sister to learn from her successes and failures. 

the writing on Disney Channel became lazy and unauthentic

These shows had real meaning to their retrospective audiences and were almost considered support mechanisms for young people experiencing the same problems. On the other hand, Shake It Up (produced in 2010) featured a joke about eating disorders, as a side character remarked, ‘I could just eat you guys up. You know… if I ate [followed by laughter].’ It is disgusting Disney Channel aired such a joke on a show aimed at young, impressionable girls.

Also, did you notice how many of the newer shows are lower quality versions of Disney classics? Austin and Ally is about a pop-star teenager trying to live a normal life, just like Hannah Montana. KC Undercover mimics the classic Kim Possible. High School Musical: The Musical Series would not be possible without the massive success of High School Musical. Simply, the writing on Disney Channel became lazy and unauthentic.

The Lack of Realism

Do you remember Dog with a Blog? I do, unfortunately. The show centres around a family who discover that their new dog, Stan, can speak. On top of this, Stan also leads a blog where he discusses the happenings of his household. How realistic.

The newer Disney Channel shows lost the ability to connect with a character. The newer shows prioritise comical effects, which is becoming increasingly toxic. Bizaardvark arguably romanticises toxic YouTube culture, and with the presence of Jake Paul as one of the lead characters, the show glamorises an unrealistic lifestyle to younger audiences.  

Where did all the original movies go?

What happened to DCOM’s (Disney Channel Original Movies)? I remember sitting in front of my tube TV, on my High School Musical rug, absolutely hypnotised by Hannah Montana The Movie. Do you remember High School MusicalCamp Rock and The Cheetah Girls? How could you not? These are only some of the titles that Disney Channel originally produced, which were a massive part of our childhoods. 

has Disney Channel lost its magic? I think so

One of the most underrated DCOM’s is Let It Shine, a great movie featuring a predominantly black cast. The movie had everything that made a great DCOM: a charismatic and talented cast, a masterful soundtrack, and an important moral message. In my opinion, the other underrated DCOM is Lemonade Mouth. Lemonade Mouth is about five teenagers who deal with many problems, including the lack of parents, overbearing parents, and a desire to change the world.

Since then, the only remarkable DCOM has been Descendants.  

Has Disney Channel lost its magic? I think so. Or maybe it is just that Disney sitcoms have lost their touch. Regardless of whether it is the quality downfall or the nostalgia, Disney Channel has lost its spark in my eyes.

Daria Paterek

Featured Image courtesy of Inside the Magic via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 1 courtesy of highschoolmusical via @instagram.com. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 2 courtesy of disneychannel via @instagram.com. No changes were made to this image.

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