Jun 12, 2017

Andi Mack: Genderqueer Teen and Her Gay-Vague Posse

You know right away from the intro to the Disney Channel teencom Andi Mack (2017-) that this will be an unusual experience.   Characters created out of jigsaw puzzles and pieces of paper, close-ups half off-camera, moving around so quickly that it's hard to zero in on them, as if we are never seeing their whole truth.  And among the trinkets we see that characterize Andi's life: a gay-pride rainbow bracelet, a pink triangle.....

For the last ten years or so, nearly every Disney Channel teencom has been about a girl who wants to become a singer, but short-haired, androgynous Andi Mack (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) doesn't have that goal: she just wants some answers!

On her thirteenth birthday, her big sister Bex (Lilan Bowden) announces that she is moving back home.  AND that she's actually Andi's mother!  The people Andi has been calling Mom and Dad, Celia (Lauren Tom) and Ham (Stoney Westmoreland), are actually her grandparents.

Most girls who have babies in high school depend on the grandparents for help with everything from childcare to finances, but pretending that the grandparents are the parents sounds like a very poor decision.  But it makes for lots of interesting conflicts.

Celia and Ham (left) are not very happy about Bex pushing her way into the role of mother, being demoted to grandparents after 13 years.  They start competing over who can be the best parent.

And they retaliate by calling up the father, rock star Bowie (Trent Garrett, above), who apparently was never told that his ex-girlfriend had a daughter.  (Wait -- doesn't he have a legal right to visitation, and a legal obligation to provide child support?)  He shows up, eager to start fathering Andi.

The fluid family dynamic, so different from the usual teencom Mom, Dad, and Kids, strikes me as a reflection of the various ways that queer people make their own families.

Other than her crazy family, Andi has two best friends, Cyrus (Joshua Rush) and Buffy (Sofia Wylie), a crush, Jonah (Asher Angel), and a sports team, the frisbee-playing Space Otters, represented by Marty (Garren Stilt)

But there's a lot of to watch even in that standard group:  Cyrus, who has a big, blatant crush of his own on Jonah.

 It's so obvious that it almost looks intentional -- according to rumor, Cyrus is going to be outed as gay in a future episode, which would make him the first overt gay teen character in the Disney universe.

Maybe he and Andi will openly compete for Jonah's affection, thus straining their relationship.

I doubt it.  Disney has done a few "my gay moms sort of walk-ons," but continues to promote the myth that there are no gay children or adolescents -- gayness is something that happens to you in adulthood after a hetero-horny childhood.  So if there's a gay character, it will probably be Bex.

The only thing missing is beefcake.  The kids are too young to be teen idols (left: Garren Stitt), and the adult men haven't yet fumbled with a button.

But there's always next episode.


  1. You are right people should be watching Andi Mack it is an incredible show. Peyton Elizabeth Lee is very talented for her age. I'm pretty sure Cyrus will come out as gay at some point. I think the kid that plays him is gay in real life too.


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