Times Disney Channel Tackled Serious Topics.

Throughout the years, Disney Channel has brought light to some serious topics and issues to a younger audience. We’ve gathered some of the best shows we grew up on that have broken television barriers, such as That’s So Raven, Good Luck Charlie, The Proud Family, and more.

That’s So Raven on Racism

In one episode, Chelsea and Raven both apply for the same job, and Raven does really well during her interview. Chelsea, on the other hand, bombs her interview but ends up receiving the job. Raven has a vision of the store’s manager saying she does not hire Black people. Throughout the episode, the two help expose the store manager with the help of their friend Eddie. The episode titled “True Colors” was the tenth episode of the third season and aired during Black History Month in 2005. 

Austin & Ally on Bullying

In the 19th episode of the third season, titled “Beauties and Bullies,” Trish gets the role of Sleeping Beauty in the school play and subsequently becomes the target of bullying. There are a few good themes throughout, as Trish learns to open up to those around her and tells the others that revenge won’t help the situation. At the end of the episode, the cast gives a PSA on bullying. The episode touches on the topic extremely well, and our hearts truly broke for Trish watching this one. 

The Proud Family on Xenophobia

In the episode “Culture Shock,” during the third season released in 2003, Penny partakes in a cultural exchange in school and gets partnered with Radhika Zamin, a young Pakistani girl. Near the end of the episode, after a successful cultural exchange and a newfound appreciation of their culture, the Proud and Zamin family meet and dine together at the end of Ramadan. However, when the two families return to the Zamin family home, they find it vandalized with the words “go back to your country.” 

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody on Body Image

In the 34th episode of the second season titled “Health and Fitness,” London and Maddie perform in a charity fashion show, where London’s friend Francesca makes negative comments about the girls’ bodies. As a result, the two develop body dysmorphia and unhealthy eating habits to change their bodies. The episode aired in 2007 and was pretty ahead of its time. 

Andi Mack on Coming Out

If it’s been a while since you’ve watched Disney Channel, you may be shocked and pleasantly surprised to hear that the words “I’m gay” have been said on the network. Character Cyrus Goodman came out to multiple friends throughout the show in numerous ways in 2018. It’s handled lightly, and having that representation is incredible for kids watching. 

Good Luck Charlie on Gay Relationships

Before Cyrus came out on Andi Mack, Disney Channel introduced lesbian parents on Good Luck Charlie. In the second to last episode of the series, a lesbian couple arrives to drop off their adopted daughter for a play date. It was the first same-sex couple featured on the network, and they only appeared in one episode. The couple’s appearance caused some controversy, but many applauded the network for finally including LGBT characters, and everyone on the show was accepting of the pair.

About the Author

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Maya Garibay-Sahm

Maya Garibay-Sahm is a journalism major at the California State University, Dominguez Hills.