The Disney Channel is once again wading into the culture war with one of its most popular shows set to feature a male teen’s transition into homosexuality.
On Friday, the second season of the show Andi Mack premiers, which according to The Hollywood Reporter, will introduce the network’s first gay storyline.
The show, based around fictional female lead Andi, “will feature a young male — one of the show’s main characters — beginning to realize that he has feelings for a male classmate,” reports THR.
“Friday’s episode finds Andi awkwardly sorting out her feelings for her classmate Jonah (Asher Angel). At the same time, Cyrus, also 13, realizes that he, too, has feelings for Jonah and confides in Buffy — the scene and Buffy’s reaction are intended to serve as a positive role model for both kids and adults — even as he struggles with how to share this revelation with his new girlfriend. This kicks off his journey to self-discovery and ultimately self-acceptance as a gay individual, as seen in subsequent episodes.”
As noted by THR, Andi Mack is “top-rated in its time period among kids 6-14,” and has a median viewer age of 10.
A spokesman for the Disney Channel said the series update is about educating audiences on “inclusion.”
“Andi Mack is a story about tweens figuring out who they are; Terri Minsky, the cast and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity,” a statement to THR reads.
A spokesman for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) lauded the show because “more and more young people [are] coming out as LGBTQ.”
“Television reflects the real-life world, and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favorite shows. Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion, and there are so many young people who will be excited to see Cyrus’ story unfold,” said GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis.
This wouldn’t be the Disney Channel’s first foray into the gay issue – previous shows have also featured gay characters.
“However, this story arc is a first for the network, which has not previously told the story of a character’s journey of realizing that he or she is gay and embarking on that journey of self-discovery,” writes THR.
Earlier this year one of the channel’s animated shows, Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, also featured the network’s first same-sex kisses, slipping in a scene in which people in a crowd delivered same-sex kisses to their gay and lesbian partners.
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