Good Luck, Charlie: Growing up Female in a Disney World

I’ve been watching a lot of Disney TV with my kids this summer. You don’t own a TV? Then why are you reading this instead of “not watching TV” on your laptop with Hulu? Disney too commercial and character-y for you? Then why are you reading this instead of playing with vintage wooden toys with your kids children?

OK. Now the rest of us can talk. THE DUNCANS HAD A BABY BOY LAST NIGHT! Could you die? You are loved, Toby Duncan.

Good Luck, Charlie welcomed a fifth (!) baby to their family last night. That is a huge family. Good Luck, Charlie is the new Eight is Enough. I have lots of friends raising 5+ kids like it’s nothing so it’s fun to see how Amy Duncan keeps it all together. She’s the mom and she’s pretty funny. Here’s the breakdown of some other leading ladies and my major beef with Disney women.

I have wanted to write a post about this since I watched Victorious (Nickelodeon) and Shake It Up. My youngest loves the dancey glamor of these shows but I really don’t like them. The characters are self-centered, catty, and shallow. Kids are already delusional about their own importance because of Twitter and Facebook. Opportunities for fame loom large —I think many (if not most) kids  assume they will either make it big with a viral video at some point or try out for American Idol and become a star. I’m sick of shows like Hannah Montana—as if being famous for being famous were something to aspire to! I’m out of touch though, because that’s exactly what people aspire to these days.

But some of these female leads are great. Even though I’m not a huge fan of rich absent-parents, I think Jessie is a pretty decent show. It depicts a young woman as a nanny for a bunch of rich kids. (You might recognize Jessie from the Zack and Cody cruising days–which were so, so bad IMHO). You know how they always bring in a new baby when the female leads starts getting too old (ahem, Good Luck Charlie), but Jessie is a young woman who is actually maturing and has a job … NOT as a singer or dancer. Also, she’s not stick thin, which I like. It’s genuinely funny, at times.

I’m becoming a fan of Austin and Ally. Now, it is about a teenage celebrity (Austin) but the main premise is that Ally actually plays music and writes songs for him. I know, I know–she’s the silent female behind the male. But I applaud Disney for showing that someone actually has to write those songs their pseudo-stars sing. And to have a character with talent who doesn’t actually want the spotlight? That’s unheard of! There’s a Ron Weasley-type supporting character who seems really genuinely funny to me. But I’m not sure—it’s the off season for grown-up TV. Maybe I’m just desperate, but I’m kind of into it.

But the most common problem with the Disney and Nick leading ladies–and this is my biggest beef with these shows–is that the writers mistake being rude or snotty for being funny. I hate this!

Look at Amy Poehler. Read Tina Fey’s book. Watch Maya Rudolf for 10 seconds on Up All Night. There’s so much women can do in comedy that is fresh and creative and hilarious and quirky. In other words, there’s so much more than snark and a finger waggle with, “Oh no you di-nt.” We can do better.

I give props where they are due and I censure when needed. Phineas and Ferb is a miracle. Zach and Cody was a travesty. We talk about this stuff as a family. My kids know what I hate and why. Maybe it would be better not to watch at all but I’m picking my battles over here. Besides, school’s out and mama needs some blogging time. It’s not like I’m going to plop them in front of the CW—I do have some scruples.





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