The Disney Channel wasn’t something we had in my house until the late ‘90s so I missed out on seeing Britney Spears and Ryan Gosling on ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ and whatever else they aired back then. Thankfully though, we got it just in time for the beauty that was DCOMs. However, that’s not where my Disney Channel Crush is coming from. I’m following in the steps of hip-hop artist and this week’s guest, Tristen Davies, and talking about a character from one of the most popular shows to ever grace the channel, and that’s none other than Lizzie McGuire.
This crush is far from the same type I have on Jesse Eisenberg and Prince Eric. My love of Lizzie is more about admiration and respect because when it comes to shows about the peaks and valleys of adolescence, very few do it as well and as charmingly as ‘Lizzie McGuire’ did for two whole seasons over 20 years ago. Yes, the show that is revered as one of Disney Channel’s best only got two seasons, and when Disney+ made 30-somethings scurry to buy subscriptions with promises of a grown-up reboot – our hearts were shattered to learn that the streaming service could house Iron Man’s alcoholism and Darth Vader’s murder rampages but the idea of Lizzie having sex at 30 was far too much.
Okay, my rant about that is over. Let’s continue.
Around the same time ‘Lizzie McGuire’ was hawking the hell out of pink merchandise, ‘Degrassi’ was giving us the more WHOA version of what it meant to be a middle schooler, and that’s really where my heart landed at the time. Today, I can say that both shows are among the greats in teen television for different reasons. ‘Lizzie’ being that it was a series that showcased first crushes, developing bodies, and battling the mean girl in a way that was very family friendly. You wouldn’t blush watching ‘Lizzie’ with your parents the same way you would watching Manny Santos strut down the hall in her newfound thong of choice.
At the core of the show though was Hilary Duff, just a kid playing a sweet yet naive teen on the verge of so many firsts, and watching, you could almost always relate. Whether you were the popular girl or the eccentric who brought tarot cards to school because Lizzie wasn’t over the top in any way. Well, except for her fashion choices, but looking back – did any of us look great in the 2000s? Universally bad ensembles aside, Lizzie was and continues to be one of the most relatable characters in teen television for how down-to-earth and honestly, how genuine Hilary Duff played the role.
Lizzie as a character is up there for me in this category with Anna and Maya from ‘Pen15,’ Monse from ‘On My Block,’ and Erin from ‘Derry Girls.’ She’s just so likable and while you relate to her, you also wish you could also be her, flaws and all. Lizzie represents what it means to be that million-thoughts-a-mile girl in middle school who wants to focus on their grades but can’t help but worry about what her crush is doing at that exact moment even though it more than likely will never work out between them because 1. He’s totally the coolest and 2. You’re 13 and maybe 1% of relationships from that age last a lifetime. Lizzie just was and will forever be that girl and I love her for that. I love that even two decades later someone that age can pop on that show and still see themselves in that character, in those stories – and it’ll be the same in another 20 years. Given the world is still inhabitable by then.
Tristen Davies picked another heavy-hitter in the Disney Channel game, an actress who in her own way inspired a whole new generation of young viewers, himself included. Find out who later this week.