andi mack cyrus hug disney lgbt storyline
Disney Channel featuring first LGBT storyline
01:09 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The following contains spoilers about the “Andi Mack” series finale.

“Andi Mack” has always aimed a bit higher than most of Disney Channel’s live-action series, which tend to come and go after a few seasons, as the casts begin to age out of the demo. So the show’s series finale feels like something of an occasion, even if there were few surprises in its various happily ever afters.

The series, which stars Peyton Elizabeth Lee as the title character, made headlines in 2017, when it became the first Disney Channel show to feature a teen coming out as gay.

Appropriately, Cyrus (Joshua Rush) and TJ (Luke Mullen) were reunited in the finale, which also wrapped up an on-again, off-again romance involving Andi’s friend Buffy (Sofia Wylie).

Andi, meanwhile, received her own bit of good news – getting accepted to the prestigious school to which she had applied – although the kids made clear that whatever the future held for them, their friendships would endure.

All that followed a penultimate episode in which Andi’s parents, Bex (Lilan Bowden) and Bowie (Trent Garrett), finally tied the knot. In the tame confines of the Disney Channel, even the show’s original premise – that Andi discovers the woman she thought of as her older sister was really her mother, who had her unplanned as a teenager – was considered potentially controversial.

Emily Skinner, Joshua Rush, Peyton Elzabeth Lee, Asher Angel and Sofia Wylie in 'Andi Mack.' (Disney Channel/Fred Hayes)

Disney stressed at the time that the Cyrus storyline would be age appropriate and reflected the company’s commitment to inclusion, but that didn’t prevent a protest from the conservative group One Million Moms, which urged people to boycott the studio if the program wasn’t immediately canceled.

The show ends its three-season run as Disney Channel’s most-watched series, having clearly raised the network’s ambitions in terms of issue-oriented programming for its audience target of “tweens” – that is, kids age nine to 14.

In announcing the final season’s premiere, series creator Terri Minsky cited its Disney milestones by noting, “We were its first serialized show, its first series centered around an Asian American family, and its first to feature an LGBTQ character who spoke the words ‘I’m gay.’”

In hindsight, “Andi Mack’s” breakthroughs will likely appear relatively modest. Yet as the show’s history makes clear, an image-conscious company like Disney tends to tread cautiously, one step at a time. In that regard, the ending – and the program’s success – can also be viewed as something of a beginning, or as the catchy theme song put it, “Tomorrow starts today.”