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Why Was Disney’s Andi Mack Canceled?


Why Was Disney's Andi Mack Canceled?


Summary

  • Andi Mack
    stood out by tackling mature issues without being preachy or judgmental, setting it apart from other Disney Channel shows.
  • The series featured groundbreaking storylines like teenage pregnancy, LGBTQ+ representation, and bullying, addressing these topics with sensitivity.
  • Despite its strong ratings and impact,
    Andi Mack
    was abruptly canceled after three seasons, leaving fans wondering about the reasons behind it.



In the 40+ years since its founding, Disney‘s flagship kids’ TV channel has given us some of the most iconic series and movies of our childhoods. For the most part, their original programs have been your standard, by-the-numbers kid stuff. While the quality of these shows can vary, the bulk exists solely to entertain the younger crowd, of which they do a good job.


But the House of Mouse occasionally takes big swings with its TV projects, doing something daring we’ve never seen before. That’s where Andi Mack comes in. First premiering in 2017, this series seemed like your conventional Disney show at the beginning. A teenage girl navigates the world of growing up with the help of her family and best friends. Textbook Disney Channel. However, Andi Mack was willing to do what almost no Disney Channel show before or since could. That is, handle mature adult issues with the respect they deserve without talking down or feeling “preachy.” The show was a hit for these reasons, so its 2019 cancelation after just three seasons seemed to come out of nowhere. What’s the story behind its ending, and how might the series have been received if it aired today?


How Andi Mack Became a Hit

Andi Mack

Andi Mack

Release Date
March 10, 2017

Cast
Joshua Rush , Lauren Tom , Lilan Bowden , Stoney Westmoreland

Seasons
3


Andi Mack begins with the titular star as she prepares to celebrate her 13th birthday. Her older sister Bex returns to surprise Andi and their parents for the birthday. That night, still in the first episode, we learn that Bex is not actually Andi’s sister. She’s her mother, and Andi’s “parents” are, in fact, her grandparents. Bex was a teenager when she gave birth and could not properly care for Andi. Discussing an unplanned teenage pregnancy in the first episode was a bold swing for Disney Channel.

While Andi is understandably angry with their deception, Bex is never judged or stigmatized for her decision. The topic is treated with the respect and care that it deserves. Later in the season, Andi connects with her biological father, who is eager to become part of her life. She’s going through a lot but gets through it with the help of her family and friends Cyrus, Buffy, and Jonah. The parental revelation becomes a part of Andi’s journey. It wasn’t shoehorned in as a plot device for no reason; it fundamentally changed every familial relationship Andi thought she knew. It all feels organic to the story and this character’s development.


Andi Mack Tackled More Complex Issues

The mature topics continued as the show progressed. In the Season 2 premiere, Cyrus came out as gay, in a first for a Disney Channel main character. While it’s initially just to Buffy, he eventually tells the rest of the friend group later in the season. None of them seem particularly shocked by the news, and the group dynamics do not change.

This was the show’s way of saying that Cyrus’ confession altered nothing about who he was as a person. In the series finale, he even begins a relationship with a supporting character, TJ. TJ began his arc as a bully, though it’s later revealed he put up a wall because he was embarrassed about having a math-related learning disability. Again, no one judges him for this, and Buffy even acts as his tutor to help him work through the problem. Disney tried to discuss heavier subject matter, such as bullying, in their earlier series Girl Meets World, but most of those moments came across as melodramatic.


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In a Season 3 episode, Cyrus falls in with the “wrong crowd,” who want him to use a gun. The gun is not seen on screen, and no violence is threatened, but he still reports it to their school principal. The cast uses the opportunity to make a PSA about the all-too-prevalent problem while speaking on the level of the audience and encouraging them to report any troubling incidents to trusted authority figures.

It would be interesting to see this show today. While 2019 doesn’t seem like that long ago, it absolutely is in the context of internet outrage culture. Andi Mack ended right around the time the “woke vs. not woke” debate took off. If it were new today, we would almost definitely see a barrage of hate directed at Disney Channel for pushing an “agenda” of “indoctrination,” especially against their ongoing feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law.


Why Was Andi Mack Mysteriously Canceled?

As Disney Channel’s only show willing to tackle these mature themes head-on, it may seem surprising to learn that Andi Mack was canceled after just three seasons. No official reason was given, though the cast and crew were able to craft a proper series finale. The ratings were strong, and while some cast members had pursued other projects, most seemed willing to continue with Andi Mack. So what happened?

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The most common cancelation theory concerns actor Stoney Westmoreland, who portrayed Andi’s grandfather, Ham. Westmoreland was arrested in December 2018 for attempting to coerce a minor into explicit acts over the internet. That day, he was fired by Disney. Westmoreland was not a main character, so he was not seen in every episode. Upcoming episodes that did feature his character were edited to remove him. While the series is on Disney+, no episodes with Westmoreland from before his arrest are available to stream. As the show was canceled just a few months after Westmoreland’s firing, many online speculated this was the reason. However, audiences may never know for sure.

Andi Mack was ahead of its time for a number of reasons, and whatever you might think of the series, Disney deserves props for making a kid’s show that explored real issues that mattered to its audience. Andi Mack is streaming on Disney+.

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