Friday Five: Disney channel shows


Kinnera Mulam

Here are some of my favorite childhood Disney channel shows ranked mainly on nostalgia. While I always poke fun at the poor special effects, awkward scenes and underdeveloped plots in Disney shows, I would love nothing more than to rewind time and sit on the ground of my living room to watch these shows again for the first time.

by Kinnera Mulam, Reporter

“And you’re watching Disney Channel!”

My eyes remained glued to the screen as various actors and actresses traced out the Disney logo with a sparkly blue wand, my ears blocking out the pots and pans clashing from the kitchen or the low murmurs of my family from around the house. For hours and hours on end, I wouldn’t move from my spot on the carpet, amazed by the magic and excitement of episodes from different series as they played one after another. My dad sat behind me on the couch, a disinterested look on his face as he impatiently waited to switch to a sports channel, silently wishing he didn’t have to endure sitting in the living room any longer with the shows he dubbed as “painfully unrealistic.”

Now, while I always poke fun at the poor special effects, awkward scenes and underdeveloped plots in Disney shows, I would love nothing more than to rewind time and sit on the ground of my living room to watch these shows again for the first time. There are series finales that are still capable of inducing as many tears as they did when I was in elementary school. In the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of my favorite shows again such as “Shake It Up,” memories reminiscent of my childhood when my biggest concern was whether Maddie Rooney from “Liv and Maddie” would pick Josh Willcox over Diggie Smalls or not (Mosh over Miggie anyday). With that, I’ll rank my top five Disney Channel shows from the late 2000s to early 2010s mainly based on nostalgia.

5. “The Suite Life on Deck” 

Dylan and Cole Sprouse playing twins with contrasting personalities, Debby Ryan with her iconic hair-tucked-behind-the-ear-and-smirk look and four teenagers prone to making trouble all in one show? Yes please. “The Suite Life on Deck” radiates nostalgia as it features actors and actresses such as the Sprouses and Ryan, all of whom are both about to enter their 30s and starred on the show as young teenagers. I do enjoy the original show “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” more, which I saw after the spin off, but the original series’ first season aired before I was born. To this day, I still can’t believe that the Sprouses play twins Zack and Cody Martin especially since the filming took place over a decade ago. Additionally, the show cast the character Bailey Pickett as Debby Ryan, an actress who appeared in so many of my favorite films and shows as a child. The series also featured one of my all-time favorite Disney channel characters London Tipton, played by Brenda Song, with her impeccable flair and ability to shift any situation’s focus to herself. Despite the high entertainment value, I can’t seem to remember the theme song even right after an episode nor do I enjoy it that much when it plays. A major part of nostalgia for older shows is the ability to sing and dance to theme songs with friends, something I’m unable to do with “The Suite Life on Deck.” The show also aired when I was two and ended three years later, diminishing the feeling of growing up with the series. 

4. “Hannah Montana” 

This show truly had me believing that throwing on a blonde wig completely altered your appearance to the point of being unrecognizable and had me thinking I could rock blonde if I really wanted to. Miley Cyrus stars as the titular teen pop star with the secret identity of Miley Stewart, a teenage girl in Malibu, adding yet another person to the growing list of fictional characters I aspired to be when I was younger. Throughout the seasons, Miley juggles both sides of her life as she attempts to experience “the best of both worlds” as stated in the theme song, but eventually reveals her identity at the end of the series. The show contains the most songs from a Disney channel production that I’d still enjoy such as “Who Said” and “Nobody’s Perfect.” Although the show started before “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and ended at the same time, listening to the show’s songs recorded when Cyrus was 13 and hearing Cyrus’s songs that she made when she was in her late 20s really highlights how much time has passed since the show and since I used to sit in my living room, completely engrossed by the Disney channel world. Despite the sunny beach environment and Hannah’s unforgettable songs, a question I wish was answered but never was regards how Hannah rose to stardom. The show includes flashbacks of Miley’s life pre-fame but never details how Miley became Hannah or how she gained popularity so quickly. 

3. “Wizards of Waverly Place”

With a catchy theme song accompanied by an amusing video, relatable main character and magic all in one show, “Wizards of a Waverly Place” starring Selena Gomez as the snarky and hilarious Alex Russo was bound to be exceptional, and always makes me wish I could jump into the show like Alex did when she cast a spell to jump into a theater screen and became integrated into the movie. I also absolutely love the idea that the magic-wielding Russo family did something as mundane as running a sandwich shop, which for a while, made me partially believe that Subway employees secretly had wands stashed in their back pockets. Alex’s iconic lines, everlasting feud with her older brother Justin and tendency to resort to magic in challenging times would have placed this show first in my rankings if not for the major plot holes regarding the underdeveloped magical side of the series. For instance, the second season introduces a magical substance dubbed as “undo dust” that reverses spells. With all the trouble and shenanigans that the characters find themselves in, they never mention or use the dust again, even when Alex’s brother Max’s body transforms into that of a young girl for an entire season. 

2. “Phineas and Ferb”

“There’s 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it so the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it,” reads the lyrics to the “Phineas and Ferb” theme song “Today Is Gonna Be a Great Day,” by Bowling for Soup, that I heard alongside my older sister every day of my summer break in elementary school through middle school. I remember sitting (and sweating profusely) on the couch of my living room, performing a mini concert to the unskippable and best Disney channel theme song as it played. These memories with my sister increase the nostalgia I associate with the show, because I had someone to share the memory with. Although each episode consisted of the same plot structure, I loved seeing all the inventions brothers Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher, voiced by Vincent Martella and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, respectively, crafted together. As the brothers built various structures, Candace attempted to bust her brothers for said elaborate inventions but fell short to do so every episode. Despite all these characters with differing yet still likeable personalities, Phineas and Ferb’s pet platypus, Perry, steals the show every episode with his secret agent identity and hilarious scenes with his series-long nemesis, the eccentric, mad scientist Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. I mean, who doesn’t love a platypus with a double life and his own song

1.  “Good Luck Charlie” 

Who knew a chaotic family of seven finding their way in life could be so entertaining? From laughing at the sticky situations Gabe Duncan wound up in every episode to the adorable daily video diaries Teddy Duncan made for her younger sister Charlie, this show kept my eyes glued to the TV screen for all four seasons. One of my favorite ongoing trends from the series is Gabe’s comical disputes and bickering with his nosey next door neighbor Ms. Dabney. I still remember crying when the entire family chorused the series’ iconic titular phrase together in the last video diary filmed in the show as the family separated to all embark on their own journeys. To this day, I’m always ready to rewatch episodes despite having memorized the entire plot. I ascribe my fondness for the show to the fact that I love series that are centered around families and their inseparability, a concept that this series executed flawlessly. Although the seven main characters display starkly contrasting personalities, they never clash with each other nor outshine each other. The theme song “Hang in There Baby,” sung by Bridget Mendler, includes lyrics such as “Today’s all burnt toast. Running late and dad jokes, has anybody seen my left shoe? Close my eyes, take a bite, grab a ride, laugh out loud, there it is up on the roof,” which perfectly encapsulates the family’s chaotic nature. Additionally, “Good Luck Charlie” wins some bonus points over “Phineas and Ferb,” since its humor and comedy quickly lightens my mood after a horror movie.