Sunday, April 23, 2017

Andi Mack Reviewed: Dancing in the Dark (S1E4)

I know I talk a big game but she scares me!

What is it? 24-minute single-cam kidcom on Disney Channel and all that, oh yeah it's more like 25-26 minutes because of Mack Chats. Those are always fun.
Where does it air? Disney Channel where it gets to hang out with other such KidCom greats as Bunk'd, random kiddie movies (just as long as they aren't DCOMs) and reruns of past shows that were actually popular.
Who stars in it? Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Lauren Bowden, Lauren Tom, you know the drill. I might as well mention the other players too - Joshua Rush, Sophia Wylie (I wonder if she's related to Noah Wylie who stars in and executive produces TNT's The Librarians which is one of the few, geek Millennial/Gen X-er-appealing genres shows I actually like a lot because it just does what it does so well), Emily Skinner as "Amber Alert" and Asher Angel which...ok, I'm not doubting that's his real name, but that still doesn't change the fact that it's a more contrived-sounding name than even Armie Hammer (BTW that link is clickbait trash so I don't blame you if you don't click on it).
Why are we reviewing this? Aww man, do I really have to insist on filling this out each and every episode? Man I'm starting to regret even greenlighting this format....

Man, that Amber is such a bitch isn't she? Yeah, let's talk about that.

I mean, on the one hand we've already established that she's not only a bitch but in fact a really creepy, weirdo of a bitch who's ultra-possessive so she's already hit the horror relationship-gone-wrong film trifecta right off the bat, and Jonah and Andi really do hit it off well and have great chemistry together, and yes yes, I know, above all else, it's necessary to give the show not only conflict away from Andi Mack's parentage and family dynamics but also give the show a specific romantic conflict because that's what the network demands as its bread and butter.

But when the hell did it not only become socially acceptable but lauded about it being ok to muscle in on someone else's partner just because you feel a particular sense of entitlement to him or her?

I mean, yes, Amber's sense of entitlement to Jonah is creepy, but that doesn't make Andi's own sense of entitlement to him any less presumptuous, bull-headed and just plain wrong. I'm not even sure how to address it because it doesn't even take away from the series' charm so far and...I hate that! 

From...Best of Funny Memes? Ugh, do I really have to credit them? Ewww.

I guess, to address it in broad strokes at's extremely annoying how both Disney Channel and Nickelodeon (and the media at large) keep on trading on the idea of romance and relationships being centered around on a sense of entitlement to a particular person. That's extremely unhealthy and trust me, I know, as if my own really creepy obsessive hang-ups on my ex that I constantly talk about on this very blog at extremely inopportune, random times (like right now) wasn't already a dead giveaway to that. At best it means someone in the relationship has to surrender power. A lot of power, actually. That's not healthy for either party, needless to say especially the one surrendering that power.

Take Andi herself for instance as she's put herself in the unique and unenviable position of both trying to take power and voluntarily surrendering it. She's very lucky Jonah is just playing along and doesn't want to abuse the privilege - but as we're seeing here she's certainly giving a lot of power to Amber. And that's the thing - in this type of unhealthy relationship dynamic, and especially when you're muscling in on someone else's relationship, you risk surrendering power to people you have no intention of being romantically attached to!

We saw this again in Girl Meets World where Riley kept insisting on surrendering all her relationship power to Lucas, whether Lucas even wanted it or was even aware of it. And in the process she ended up surrendering a lot of power to Maya without even being aware of it - and ended up threatening their relationship multiple times. Now, if the whole point was to illustrate the dangers of this kind of relationship dynamic and power-surrender, then yes, GMW had a very good shot of actually being the series its hardcore fanbase has deluded itself into thinking it is. Buuut we all know the truth about that one quite well at this point. Or on Bunk'd with Emma and Xander and, again, a lot of that negative relationship dynamic ends up bouncing back against Emma and her relationship with Lou and Lou isn't even frickin' involved in it. Or an even more blatant, straightforward example, with Hazel who's so hung up on Xander she's just pretty much stuck being the pathetic stock trope character. Or on Wizards of Waverly Place where the weirdo, possessive and counter-possessive relationship dynamics between Alex and Dean and later Mason grew to truly infamous proportions even among the fandom who loved this show. Or on Austin & Ally where the relationship dynamics, for being healthy or unhealthy, nonetheless managed to put the whole damn series on shaky ground. Jessie may have had weird relationship dynamics itself between Jessie and Tony but at least, for all the other fault of that series especially Seasons 3 and 4, that relationship dynamic was, yes, realistic and a lot of their falling out was because they started stumbling through those power struggle pitfalls until at the very (rushed) end they sorted everything out (almost as it if was magic, because it was rushed and out of the blue and all). And on Good Luck Charlie too where Teddy wasn't so obsessively hung up on Spencer and kept herself in check and refused to surrender any of her power when she found out Spencer was a cheater, or just found out Dylan was a complete and total dud of a boyfriend.

Hmmm, Good Luck know, that's an interesting series because it was created by Phil Baker, a loooong-time veteran of Disney Channel who would later take over and helm I Didn't Do It's (rather infamous) Season 2 and become an executive producer of...hold on, lemme look it up...oh yeah Andi Mack, this show we're reviewing right now. And let me look it up because, oh yeah - this episode, Dancing in the Dark was written by Phil Baker.

But at least this show has the savviness and wherewithal to point it out, even if not necessarily in direct response to this unhealthy relationship dynamic that keeps popping up across the KidCom genre.

And regarding that, we still have nice character evolution or at least that "development" thing people keep harping on (you know, people like me). Right when I was worried the series might end up being nothing more but an endless string of episodes of Andi having to explain to complete strangers at this point that her older sister is really her mom, we get a blast e-mail and a party out of it because sure, why not. And we have Bex rushing straight into this party like they've done on literally every other KidCom, but here it really does feel like a young mom not only trying to keep up the pretense of being "cool" but really trying to reconnect with her daughter (and, oh yeah, using the party as a convenient excuse to have Andi drop the whole topic of her father). But what's really exciting was the conversation between Buffy and Marty - see, that's very natural-feeling and it felt like it added a lot of value to the episode.

Try finding that in, say, Girl Meets Popular or even Girl Meets She Don't Like Me (you won't - and just to remind you I still gave She Don't Like Me an A+/Best Episode of the Year on the Network Award).

Of course that's exciting to me because I'm a narrative geek who like emphasizing whenever a show actually has good talking points to illustrate this. What's probably exciting to you is that huge bombshell they dropped at the end of this show (see that's how you drop a major plot twist, not casually in the middle of the episode or in the friggin' promos for said episode well in advance of the show's actual premiere date).

Episode Grade: Congratulations Andi Mack! Already in Episode 4 you've earned your first A+! And despite all the...relationship creepiness and ranting I've just done. And for a stereotypical "oooh let's throw a party while the parents are away!" episode no less! That's extremely impressive on top of also marking an unbroken string of A-ratings for the entire series run so far (as short as it is). It's earning this grade - the second highest grade we give out on this blog, behind the A++ of course (hey if our lowest grade is going to be F--...) which this blog has yet to award - because it had a lot to offer including something that just simply feels very fresh on this network especially, but maybe for just the entire world of comedy television as it stands right now period. It's cheery without being overly sentimental and sappy, its dramatic moments don't interfere with the comedy and it feels light without having to sacrifice actual substance. So yeah, that's an A+ in my book.
Episode MVP: I'm really tempted to give it to Peyton Elizabeth Lee because she does all the heavy lifting in this episode and I won't argue with anyone who says she deserves it...or even Lillian Bowden, but I'm giving it to Sofia Wylie because I really feel like she hit it out of the park in what probably ended up being maybe five or so pages of dialogue in the script.

Extra Thoughts

 - As you can plainly see, I was perfectly able to resist any Bruce Springsteen references. You're welcome.

 - well it looks like we've finally found or new Girl Meets World in that we have a series we're going to come back to on a weekly basis provided they keep giving us new episodes, which means I'm going to get really sick and tired of having to fill out all that info at the beginning of every review with the same exact thing very quickly.

- I don't know if anyone wants to bother to suggest to Christian and Sean that they start up Andi Mack Reviewed, on that note?

 - Oh, and for those keeping count and playing the drinking game at home (where you should be, don't drink and drive): I think that's three shots for dinging on GMW yet again.

 - And one for me mentioning my ex and being creepy about it on a blog ostensibly dedicated to reviewing children's shows.

 - Speaking of creepy, we now have something that's finally dethroned the "Amber Alert:" the Macks' neighbor referring to Andi as "that Harry Potter-haircut cutie."

 - One thing I forgot to mention in last week's review is that it really tried to push the idea of seeing Lauren Tom in a bikini.

Image from...Know Your Meme? Awww man do I have to credit them too? Also for those of you playing at home that's two more shots, one for using a second Matt Groening-related image macro and one for making this same "do I have to credit them?" joke. And yes given that I'm talking about Lauren Tom now I should use the Futurama one here, but whatever.

 - I'll give out a special prize to anyone who can definitively prove to me that Asher Angel isn't some sort of Disney genetically-perfect clone grown in their labs underneath Disneyland alongside Walt Disney's perfectly preserved frozen head, as evidenced by Asher Angel's very friggin' name.

 - And on the Regal Academy front (because that show's way too pathetic to ever, ever deserve even a mini-review) they just killed off the main villainess: a villainess who just happened to be a teenaged girl who was more or less a completely harmless and ineffective villain, and she died by being frickin' dissolved to death which is an extremely painful and terrifying way to die.

Yeah. Still not hardcore enough to make me even bother reviewing it (does that technically qualify as the lowest grade we give out on this blog?)

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps filling out all the info for shows you review more the once isn't needed.

    Anyway, this episode was fine. Not not quite as good the previous ones because the plot itself was a bit weak but it was still good and we have another crazy cliffhanger. Nice.

    (Yeah,I'm with on that relationship stuff)


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