The Kids are in Charge | Sarah King

One of the things that stood out to me from the interview with Susan McLeland was her comment about how young viewers don’t appreciate Roseanne until they are older because “the kid characters are pills.” That got me thinking about what shows a younger audience does cling to, and then I thought of Disney Channel.

Just like most people our age, I grew up loving Disney Channel shows. Lizzie McGuire, That’s So Raven, and Hannah Montana were a few of my favorites. Now when I think about these shows in the context of family dynamics, I think they portray a skewed sense of relationships with parents.

Let’s use Hannah Montana as an example. In the show, Miley’s mother died when she was young, so she and her brother were raised by their single father, Robby Ray Stewart. Robby Ray is also Miley’s pop star alter ego’s manager. This creates an interesting dynamic because he is her father and involved in her career. However, he is not portrayed as an authority figure in the show because Miley pretty much does whatever she wants with little to no consequences for her actions. He’s more of her friend than her father.

One episode in particular that stands out to me is the episode “I Want You to Want Me…to go to Florida” in season 2. Miley wants to go to Florida so that she can sing as Hannah Montana against rival pop star, Mikayla on a late night talk show. When her dad hurts his back, he tells her he cannot fly on a plane for five hours, and that she is too young to fly alone. Miley goes against her father’s instructions and decides to go to Florida alone. When her dad finds out she has defied him, he gets to the airport before the plane takes off, and writes Miley a song about how he is coping with the fact that she is growing up. He gets off the plane at the layover on the way to Florida, and lets Miley continue to Florida alone in order to perform on the talk show.

Disney Channel_01256

Image from: TV Guide

I don’t know about you, but that is not at all how either of my parents would have handled this situation. I think this gives the young viewer a false sense of independence and lack of consequences, but maybe that’s the appeal. What kid wouldn’t want the best of both worlds?

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4 Responses to The Kids are in Charge | Sarah King

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Wow, I never realized this growing up but you are so right! In many of these t.v. shows the parents were always friends to their kids rather than an authoritative figure. I can see how in some ways this is good, because it teaches young kids to trust their parents and be open with them. On the other hand, I see how this can become an issue as they feel they have more flexibility when serious matters arise.

    Alexandra Peralta

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I also grew up watching Hannah Montana and the works, and I also wished that my parents would treat me like how Robby Ray treated Miley. I think Miley was 15 or so in this episode and she wants to fly first class (okay no fair) alone. I think it was really irresponsible of her to defy her father, that is the part I have the most hard time to internalize. If I did something like that, my parents would not write me a song, unless that song was a lecture about how irresponsible I am and what my punishment is..
    -Laya Mohan

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I agree with Laya. I think it was pretty irresponsible for her to travel all the way across the country(she lives in California in the show). I don’t think her father was being unreasonable, telling a 15 year old to not fly across the country just to show up her rival on a television show. Ideally, I like how Robby Ray was so understanding, but I know if that was my father, he would not be so forgiving. Though Hannah’s father has a drastically different parenting style than Roseanne, there was always a moral lesson to be learned at the end of each episode of Hannah Montana. I think kids tend to relate better to other kids going through situations like this because, on Disney Channel, the kids are typically seen facing the problem. In Roseanne, Roseanne is the one having to deal with everyone’s mess, so kids might not understand what she is going through from a parental aspect. So, as kids, we may have been rooting for Miley. But, as adults, we would most likely agree with Roseanne.

    -Shelby Halliman

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I think you draw an interesting point here. Looking back to my childhood and teenage years, I definitely watched shows that were more kid-centered. I watched shows such as Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven, Lizzie McGuire, etc. It’s fascinating to me that our opinions of shows change over time; now, I can’t imagine sitting through an entire episode of That’s So Raven. Roseanne, on the other hand, sounds much more intriguing.
    -Allie Kleinman

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