When it comes to making television content for tweens, it really doesn’t get much better than the Disney Channel – a network which has mastered the family-friendly formula of producing TV shows and movies that are not only interesting to pre-teens, but also deemed as acceptable by their parents. It’s hard work to meet both of those expectations, especially when your audiences are only tweens for a limited amount of years, and then move on to look for different things in the entertainment industry.
Over time, the Disney Channel has successfully captured the attention of many different generations of children and pre-teens in the last few decades, having nearly mastered the medium while simultaneously launching successful careers for actors and musicians such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Shia LaBeouf, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and the Jonas Brothers, to name a few.
But because taste buds change with each passing generation and child actors grow up to become whomever they want to be, it’s fair to say that certain TV shows on the Disney Channel have not aged well. Re-watching some of these series in the present day, knowing everything that would follow those projects, can sometimes be cringe-worthy or borderline tragic.
These are the 15 Disney Channel Shows That Have NOT Aged Well.
15. DOG WITH A BLOG
The idea for Dog with a Blog made sense in 2012, and it was undoubtedly very Disney Channel-appropriate. Back then, blogging seemed like a no-brainer for kids, and introducing a dog to the mix just made things even better.
However, by the time the show ended in 2015, the idea that anyone – but especially a dog – would be blogging seemed “very three years ago.” With the popularization of social media, not a lot of people were really casually blogging anymore, and instead just communicating through short-form social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Like technology itself, Dog with a Blog became obsolete and dated rather quickly, which is a common problem when a TV show is so tightly dependent on a particular technology-related story device.
14. PHIL OF THE FUTURE
A family from the year 2121 gets stranded in 2004 due to a complication in time-traveling – that was the simple premise of Phil of the Future. Back then, before smartphones and WiFi, the show succeeded in selling the audiences on the idea of what the future would look like. More than a decade later, however, re-watching Phil of the Future feels off-putting due to the fact that, aside from time-traveling, many of the devices shown in the series look dated and have functions that present society has already found better solutions for.
Unlike The Jetsons, which still succeed in portraying a future the world has yet to achieve, Phil of the Future featured technology that aged very quickly and is deemed obsolete after less than twenty years in the real world.
13. EVEN STEVENS
The once-charming Shia LaBeouf, who came to prominence in Even Stevens and went on to work with Disney once again in the films Holes and The Greatest Game Ever Played, grew up to be a controversial figure in popular culture who has pulled quite a couple of publicity stunts throughout recent years. Those include attending a red carpet with a brown paper bag covering his head, making inspirational videos where he is seen yelling in front of a green screen, and recording himself watching every single one of his movies (without any intermission) in a theater.
Needless to say, Even Stevens did not age well, and is not a TV show that the Disney Channel spends a lot of time promoting or capitalizing on. Shia LaBeouf’s relationship with Disney – and with many other studios – has been strained, to say the least, essentially burying the prolific work he’s released throughout his career.
12. HANNAH MONTANA
Hannah Montana may have been a hit show during its heyday, but it is a project that the Disney Channel has steered away from throughout the years, especially as the series’ protagonist, Miley Cyrus, broke out as a provocateur popstar with the 2013 album Bangerz. Being the kid-friendly company it has always been, Disney was not fond of promoting a TV show featuring a girl who was now releasing songs about drugs, making music videos licking a hammer, and seen twerking on award shows.
Miley Cyrus’ relationship with Disney was much grander than simply Hannah Montana – the studio also released countless singles for her musical career, and she starred in the Disney film The Last Song, through which she met boyfriend Liam Hemsworth. All those songs, movies, and TV episodes, however, have been largely ignored since Miley’s Bangerz phase.
11. JONAS L.A.
The Jonas Brothers’ success is tightly linked to Disney. The band recorded cover songs for Disney songs, gave them original tunes for soundtracks, made constant appearances in Disney Channel’s lineup of shows and movies, and were ultimately signed to Hollywood Records, which is a label owned by Disney.
However, it wouldn’t be until 2009 that the Jonas Brothers actually got their own TV show on the Disney Channel, which was titled Jonas L.A. Aside from being considered a poorly written series by many critics, the timing of the project was the most unfortunate of all elements, since the band announced a hiatus in 2010 from which it never truly recovered.
In hindsight, watching Jonas L.A. feels like watching the ins and outs of a band that, at that point, was already on the verge of being over.
10. SO RANDOM!
So Random! was a spin-off of Sonny with a Chance that was greenlit after star Demi Lovato was unable to keep up with the show’s production. The Disney Channel wanted to keep Sonny going very badly, but without Demi, the only possible way to keep the franchise going was to focus on secondary characters and give it a new context.
With that said, So Random! was a poorly-conceived sketch show that mimicked Nickelodeon’s very successful All That, which itself was a family-friend parody of Saturday Night Live. Even at the time, the sketches featured in So Random! were quite unfunny, and looking back, even the title of the TV show seems dated.
Unsurprisingly, So Random! is a rare Disney Channel project that only ran for one season.
9. WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE
There is no doubt that Wizards of Waverly Place came to exist because Disney was interested in capitalizing on the Harry Potter hype that Warner Bros. had been enjoying for years. The premise of that Disney Channel series was as similar to Harry Potter as it could get without actually drawing obvious comparisons.
But while the Wizards of Waverly Place ratings did reflect positively on the Disney Channel, it seems like the project is now rarely remembered by even the most ferocious Disney fans, who can think back to That’s So Raven and Lizzie McGuire but struggle to remember Wizards, which is a much more recent show.
Unlike Harry Potter, Wizards of Waverly Place did not age as well and did not live on to become a memorable Disney Channel show.
8. CORY IN THE HOUSE
The timing of 2007’s Cory in the House couldn’t have been more wrong. The premise of this That’s So Raven spin-off was simple: Cory Baxter, Raven’s little brother, had made it to the White House… because his dad became the President’s personal chef. By the way: the President was a white man named Richard Martinez.
However, in 2008, just as Cory in the House was airing its second season, Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States, which essentially made watching Cory in the House feel a little awkward and out of place. Just look back at the political climate of the time to find a justification as to why the series did not make it to a third season (which would air after Obama’s inauguration in 2009).
7. THE 1990S MICKEY MOUSE CLUB
The 1990s version of the Mickey Mouse Club jumpstarted the careers of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling, to name a few. But what all of these artists have in common is that they went on to have hyper-sexualized adult careers (in the acting and music fields) in an attempt to break away from their “squeaky clean” Disney Channel image, essentially forcing Disney to abandon reruns of the Mickey Mouse Club to avoid any further association with these celebrities.
Re-watching that era of the Mickey Mouse Club is like getting to know completely different people, as Spears, Timberlake, Aguilera, and Gosling are nearly unrecognizable in the show in comparison to the careers they have built as adults. It also doesn’t help that, on every turn, they seem to discredit the Disney Channel as a jumpstart to their careers.
6. SO WEIRD
So Weird is remembered as the first publicly chaotic production that the Disney Channel experienced. After two lackluster seasons, actress Cara DeLizia – who played Fiona, the show’s protagonist – left the project to pursue other endeavors. Along with her went actor Erik von Detten, who portrayed Clu Bell.
Despite losing two of its stars, So Weird went on to have a third season that turned out to be even more forgettable than the first two. This TV series aired on the Disney Channel during the age of Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire, which means that expectations were at an all-time high, and this show was deemed a failure.
Unlike Lizzie McGuire, which went on to become a classic, So Weird hasn’t aged well and is never rerun on the network.
The Disney Channel experimented with the reality show format with 2011’s PrankStars, which aired once a month for about six months and was filmed with hidden cameras. It was a very family-friendly Disney take on MTV’s Punk’d. Despite booking big stars to host each of the episodes, this reality series only aired the originally planned six episodes and did not move forward at the network.
Looking back, we’re hard pressed to even remember that PrankStars existed at all, which is far from the reception that the Disney Channel expected the show to have. MTV enjoyed massive success with Punk’d, but the format just couldn’t be properly replicated and twisted around in a family-friendly way. Also, by 2011, the celebrity-driven “hidden camera” pranks made successful by Punk’d already felt like a very outdated and boring format, as the MTV series had initially premiered in 2003.
4. I DIDN’T DO IT
I Didn’t Do It had an interesting concept during its first season: each episode was told through flashbacks. The show’s commitment to this storytelling device was quite groundbreaking for a cable network that targeted children, but for some reason, the whole thing was abandoned during season 2, essentially making this project just another Disney Channel series that was told in the same way as everything else on the network.
It came as no surprise that I Didn’t Do It wasn’t renewed for a third season, especially after it abandoned the single element that differentiated this show from all others. Looking back, it has become one of the Disney Channel’s most forgettable projects in history, failing to approach the popularity of Sonny with a Chance or mimic the success of Hannah Montana.
3. DUMBO’S CIRCUS
There is more than a couple of things about the Dumbo franchise that are problematic, and none of those were fixed in the Disney Channel series Dumbo’s Circus. Aside from traditional circuses being problematic (in general) due to multiple occurrences of animal cruelty, this particular Disney property has also always been accused of racist undertones due to the association of African-American actors with the animated crows in the film.
Dumbo’s Circus brought this Disney franchise to television without fixing some of the problems previously associated with it. The show was a mixture of live-action scenes and puppets, which had been a successful combination for another Disney Channel TV show, Welcome to Pooh Corner.
In 2019, a Dumbo live-action adaptation – directed by Tim Burton – is set for release, featuring Colin Farrell in the protagonist role.
2. IN A HEARTBEAT
In A Heartbeat was a Canadian-American TV series for the Disney Channel where the network ventured out to a genre it had historically steered away from: drama. The show centered around very young and very attractive part-time EMT volunteers, bringing a very 1990s and 2000s appeal to the whole thing. But, in a nutshell, it was a poorly executed project that only ran for one season. As time has gone by, watching this series has become quite cringe-worthy.
The central star of In A Heartbeat, Shawn Ashmore, would later hit the big-time for portraying Iceman in the original X-Men movies (and Days of Future Past), as well as FBI agent Mike Weston in the TV show The Following. Lauren Collins, In A Heartbeat’s token cute kid, would later be recognized in FX’s The Strain and a couple of iterations of the Degrassi franchise, including The Next Generation and Next Class.
1. SONNY WITH A CHANCE
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with Sonny with a Chance, but once you learn about the behind-the-scenes of it all, watching that TV show just doesn’t feel the same.
Sonny with a Chance premiered in 2009 and move forward on the capitalization of a young and talented Demi Lovato, who had been the shining star in the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock and would later go on to have a massively successful music career. Unfortunately, that career did not come without some deeply worrying challenges.
After just two years of Sonny, at just 18 years of age, Demi was admitted to a rehabilitation facility due to her struggles with depression, bulimia, and self-harm. The show, which had been renewed for a third season, was canceled after these reports regarding Demi Lovato came out.
Rewatching Sonny with a Chance is weird and upsetting. The show’s protagonist was hiding something much darker and worrisome underneath her performance.
Are there other Disney shows that have aged poorly? Let us know in the comments!