When Gary Marsh, President of Disney Channels Worldwide asked Lizzie McGuire creator and writer Terri Minsky to breakfast one morning in 2015, instinctively his goal was to green light another series that could save the network’s tanked ratings. Hesitant, Minsky threw one idea at Disney, igniting the birth of Andi Mack.
The show’s pilot episode follows a sheltered, Asian-american 12-year old Andi who celebrates her 13th birthday as her cool older sister Bex returns home from her travels, to reveal a big secret to Andi. The secret is that Bex is Andi’s real mother. An emotional moment ensues among the family, leaving Andi to confide in her best friends Cyrus and Buffy. A story arc is said to develop throughout the season, rather than an episode-by-episode self-contained story.
The idea behind this comedic drama came to Minsky as she learned of actor Jack Nicholson discovering his sister was actually his mother. While the subject matter presented is a bit more mature for typical Disney Channel shows, Marsh willfully received Minsky’s grown-up story line, as she had previously saved Disney Channel in the past from a ratings bomb with preteen hit Lizzie McGuire.
“When The Disney Channel called to say ‘Listen, we’re thinking we need to come up with something different and you did it for us before [with Lizzie McGuire], do you have anything?’ I was kind of thinking, well, yeah. But, in like a million years, I really didn’t expect them to go for it,” Terri told Seventeen.com.
The show’s development comes at a time when Disney Channel has experienced a lull in viewership among children demographics, with arrows pointing to Netflix’s versatility with more edgy and live-action programming targeted at kids.
Reflecting on Disney’s past successes of High School Musical and Hannah Montana, Marsh told The New York Times, “I know I can’t go to the hugely dramatic space. I can’t go to the sexual space. I can’t go horror. Where can I go that would elevate the content and get people talking about us in a way that is different from the way they talk about us normally? There has to be an equivalent in our space,” he said. “Stories that matter, that deal with more complex issues, that are emotional, resonate longer. They stick to your guts.”
The series stars Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Joshua Rush, Sofia Wylie, Asher Angel, Lilan Bowden, and Lauren Tom, and is executive produced by Terri Minsky, Michelle Manning, and produced by Greg A. Hampson, and Jeff T. Miller.
The pilot premiered on several video on demand platforms including Disney Channel’s YouTube on March 10, 2017. The series will premiere on Disney Channel on April 7.
You can stream the pilot episode on Disney Channel’s YouTube now.