Don’t get me wrong, Disney Channel is far from perfect. The network has used stereotypes and tropes like the ‘sassy Black friend’ in Good Luck Charlie, or the most cringe (and downright problematic) characters like Ravi from Jessie and Esteban from Suite Life of Zack and Cody. And when Disney+ exploded onto the scene, so did its expansive archive, highlighting many moments from the parent company’s racist past.
But Disney Channel has been actively trying to change the narrative. In the 2022 reboot of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, they changed the Chang triplets, often used at the butt of the joke and plagued with the ‘Minority Myth’ trope, into fully fleshed-out characters with individual personalities instead of one-dimensional, racist depictions.
Two things can be true: Disney has a complicated past, and, I really appreciate the great BIPOC content my younger self got to watch with three-dimensional characters that were more than just sidekicks, service workers or villains. These depictions showed me that we can lead shows, we can show positive stories, and we can be funny or strong or vulnerable (or all of the above).
They can also be totally cheesy. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be playing The Cheetah Girls soundtrack for the rest of the day.