In keeping with Disney’s ever-growing push to dominate the entertainment industry, the $200 billion international company released their new streaming service – Disney+ – Nov 12.
The new streaming service offers an interface similar to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video and features hundreds of classic Disney movies like “Snow White” and “Lady in the Tramp.” It also includes fan favorite Disney Channel shows like “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “That’s So Raven,” movies and shows from the Marvel and “Star Wars” universes, Pixar movies and shorts and documentaries from National Geographic.
Disney+ will also offer viewers never-before-seen content. The live action “Star Wars” show “The Mandalorian” lured in many die hard “Star Wars” fans, and the promise of multiple new Marvel shows and movies that feature iconic characters like Loki, the Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange are sure to draw in even more viewers.
But to me the big allure of Disney+ is the comfort and nostalgia that comes from watching old favorites. My favorite show as a child was “Lizzie McGuire,” a heartwarming and funny show about the relatable Lizzie and her efforts to survive middle school without too much embarrassment. Since the show ended in 2004, the only way you could watch the hilarious hijinks of Lizzie and her animated alter ego was if you happened to catch reruns on Saturday mornings.
When I heard the show would be back on Disney+, I was excited, but I was also scared. What if re-watching after all these years ruined the show for me? What if some things are just better left in the past?
I finally gave in weeks after the release of Disney+, and I was happily surprised. Sure, not every joke landed, and there were occasional cringe-worthy moments, but it truly was a good show. Now that I’m older, I can appreciate the underlying themes, especially ones of female empowerment, a bit more.
In the very first episode, the show explores the ideas of being true to yourself in the face of pressure to fit into the crowd. It also discusses the harmful nature of girls tearing each other down, and how to accept blame. When Lizzie needs cheering up, her whole family compliments her on her intellect, kind heart and ability to maintain friendships. They make no comments about her appearance.
I’m not saying that Lizzie McGuire is the next feminist icon. An educated viewer could probably find a lot to condemn about the show’s treatment of cheerleaders or the characterization of mean girl Kate. What I am saying is, unlike some other nostalgic shows, many of the Disney Channel shows still hold up more than a decade later.
To this day shows like “That’s So Raven” and “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” are applauded for their willingness to tackle important issues like the harmful impacts of photoshop on how young girls view their own body, or the health concerns that come with yo-yo dieting. More importantly, they managed to do this while still being funny enough to maintain their audience.
Disney+ offers a unique look back at the shows that shaped so many of our lives. I think it’s beneficial to take a step back and review the messages those shows conveyed and what they mean today. It can also be really fun.
I am concerned about the future of streaming services. I think they will eventually morph back into an upgraded version of cable – expensive, crowded and usually filled with subpar programing. However, I admit the benefits that come with streaming platforms, not the least of which is being able to watch whatever I want, whenever I want. Now that can include my old favorite Disney shows.
That being said, Disney+ is a welcome addition to the steaming market for most viewers. If the nostalgia of classics released from the elusive Disney vault is not enough to catch your attention, the new content may be. Though I cannot attest to the quality of these new shows, as a Disney girl at heart I have enough faith in the Imagineers to tune in and find out. You may not be willing to hop on the Disney bandwagon just yet, but with positive reviews of the service rolling in thus far, you may be alone.