Disney Channel, which has been vastly known for it’s heteronormative, white-washed television programming in the past has taken a massive turn in the past year. The channel has broken major boundaries this past year including talking about the outcome of teenage pregnancy and displaying more LGBT couples in their shows.
This transition began back in 2015. The channel was filled with white led shows with a token character of color. Even the critically acclaimed, Girl Meets World was often criticized for its lack of diversity. Then came the show, KC Undercover. A show following the life of a teenage spy. Led and produced by Zendaya, it became the first show in almost a decade on the channel to center around an African-American family.
When I left Disney, there weren’t any families of color on the channel. That was a big reason why I wanted to come back. -Zendaya to Variety
The show premiered with 3.51 million viewers and averaged 2.5 million throughout its first season. Leading to a season renewal and open door for more diverse content throughout the channel. Stuck in Middle followed suit in 2016. The show was the channel’s first to center around a Hispanic family. Both KC Undercover & Stuck in the Middle not only demonstrate these families while avoiding massive stereotypes but run on the idea of girl power.
Now in 2017, the channel is continuing to make amazing strides in representation. There are currently two shows with Asian American leads (Bizzardark and Andi Mack) and a second show centering around an African-American family (Raven’s Home). This making every current live action show on the channel center around people of color.
There has also been an increase in LGBT representation as well. Starting at the beginning of the year with featuring a same sex kiss on the show, Star Vs. The Forces of Evil, improvements are finally being made. Though the first same sex couple was revealed on the channel back in 2014, it received massive criticism from conservative groups including death threats to the child star of Good Luck Charlie. Fast forward today and Disney showcases an episode of Doc McStuffins with an interracial lesbian couple.
They also revealed their first openly gay character in one of their UK shows, The Lodge. The show is scheduled to air the second season on Disney Channel US this year. (Read More: Disney Welcomes Newest Gay Character). It’s also rumored that the show Andi Mack will showcase a boy exploring his sexuality in the next season.
With representation on a rise, Disney Channel is doing what a lot of mature channels are not. They are showing the realities of society and introducing children to what the world is becoming.