Tag Archives: Raven Symone

Why I Can’t Seem To Grasp My Favorite Childhood TV Characters Grown Up (Raven’s Home Reboot, Following Fuller House and Girl Meets World)

23 Jul

Hello ya’ll!

So, recently I was one of the nostalgic adults who tuned in July 21st to watch the premiere of That’s So Raven‘s reboot now called Raven’s Home.

That’s So Raven was a comedy sitcom, possibly Disney’s first, made officially by the channel, about a teenage psychic who often sees something happening in the future and tries (mostly unsuccessfully) to stop the vision from coming true or to help a good vision come true. This obviously left room for a lot of humor, gags, and delightful slapstick. The three lead characters, Raven, Chelsea, and Eddie, really brought the show to life. They all had excellent comedic timing, great chemistry, and plenty of great actors to back the characters up, which helped to make this “kid’s show” into something for the whole family.

But there is something extra special about watching the show through the eyes of an on-screen teenager. Teenagers are not too young, but they aren’t too old either. They are usually free agents with their whole life ahead of them. They don’t have kids, so they can be as independent and fun as they like. At the same time, they aren’t so young they lose touch with adult issues. And yet, it’s fun to watch them live for the moment.

Even as adults, we long for the days of our youth, when life was simpler. It has been great to return to old re-runs of That’s So Raven on Disney Rewind just to re-experience that magic. It’s great to go back to a time when there were no smart phones, and fidget spinners, and when we had those flamboyant sparkly clothes and feathery jackets.

And, for me, that really doesn’t seem too long ago. For me, I’m still the teen I was 10 years ago. I can’t imagine even being an adult…And yet, I am. I have adult problems and issues now. I worry about my future. I worry about getting older and sicker. I no longer have that confidence in my youth.

Yet, in some ways I’m more confident and more successful and happier, too. It’s weird.

Sure, I’m still in my late 20s. But I’m not getting any younger. My friends are married with kids. They no longer can enjoy the same fun pastimes we used to enjoy as teens, like Laser Tag, ice skating, and horseback riding (though I still enjoy all immensely). We all have bills to pay and homes to pay for. It’s just not the same.

Of course, there are some perks to being an adult. Sure. But whenever we wanted to return to the past, shows like That’s So Raven was there.

Now, with the reboot Raven’s Home, Raven Baxter, the wacky psychic teen we grew to love, is older and is now a MOM. Wrapping my mind around this has been challenging, I must admit. The teen that used to make fun of her parents for being embarrassing, the teen that used to trick her parents or try to get out of sticky situations regarding her parents, is now that parent.

She now has two twin children, one of which is also psychic. So, she isn’t the focus anymore.

Trust me, I knew what I was getting into when I watched this show. But I didn’t realize how much it would hit me until the episode ended into the credits.

I’m old.

This is probably how many fans felt after watching Girl Meets World. I didn’t truly understand because Boy Meets World was popular even after the teens went off to college and even after Cory proposed to Tapanga back then. I was still pretty young during that episode. Fuller House may have had the same effect on fans. To us, 10 years or 20 years was not that long ago, but with many kids reminding us that they’ve never heard of these shows, we begin to think, “Am I really that old?” And now our favorite characters are parents, too? And trying to appeal to kids that know nothing of their greatness?

Girl Meets World

I think the shock for our generation (or for me rather) is because maybe we feel like we’ve grown up too fast. Our time seems to have sped even faster than our parents’ time. We’re also mostly at a standstill, still struggling to build careers, and not really settled financially, physically, politically, and socially (according to some experts).  We’re just not following the “rites of passage” to the letter like former generations. Even the two lead actresses, Raven and Anneliese van der Pol, don’t really have a family with kids and seem like real-life bachelorettes, even though they are in their 30s.

I think the two are playing really empowering roles as two single moms raising their kids on their own. I admire that aspect. They are bringing new kids along to help them navigate this new generation. We, as adults, are also navigating in this new generation’s world. These kids were born in the 2000s. We were not.

And yet, we just can’t see ourselves as adults because we kind of grew up in the Y2K era too.

I think what makes Raven’s Home particularly hitting is that the original show was even newer than Boy Meets World and Full House. It just ended in 2007, near the end of the last decade. Anything “2000s” doesn’t sound old. Hannah Montana and High School Musical had come out before the end of That’s So Raven (and we know how iconic those still are). The generation that followed That’s So Raven aren’t just in their 20s and early 30s. Some of the demographic is in their TEENS. My younger cousins were 6 and 7 years old watching That’s So Raven. Now, they are 16 and 17 watching Raven’s Home, and they’re just like, “She’s a mom now?”

Even though Raven was always older than my cousins were back then, she was still pretty young and really cool to a kid who admires their teenage older sisters and cousins. She wasn’t a mom. That generation is still looking for that youth in Raven, for someone who is figuring out their life as maybe a young college student or as a free bachelor seeking to live a glamorous life (like what we have seen with Sex and the City or Friends, only in a kid-friendlier version). The glam factor goes out the window when our favorite characters become parents themselves. I don’t know why that’s so. Maybe because we don’t like glamorizing parenthood to young impressionable children, I don’t know. Maybe because it’s less sexy. Maybe because kids don’t want to think about having kids. I can think of hundreds of reasons why people prefer single and childless characters to those bogged down with a family, even if none of the reasons are rational. It’s just not appealing to watch the parent and everyone falls more in love with the kids (if these kids can act and charm a crowd).

Even Spider-Man got more praise when they brought his character back to high school in the newest Homecoming Warrior. And it seems Spider Man has always been more popular as a teen than he was depicted as an adult.

The adult characters that do make it into shows or cinema are usually more popular when they are single without a family. Possibly because this helps to give the effect to the audience that the characters need to grow, learn, and experience throughout this show or movie, which creates all kinds of story-telling and fantasies for fans. But none of it actually is final, and that’s what makes it great.

With Raven’s Home, with her having her family, it almost seems like her life as a teenage psychic, that chapter, is over. And that’s what makes me so sad about it all.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the kids in the show. Chelsea’s “son” Levi (played by Jason Maybaum) is a showstopper. He’s cute and can manage to land excellent comedic timing. But am I alone in wishing there had been no kids? When I thought of a “reboot”, I thought of them being older, but maybe the focus. I also didn’t imagine these children as really theirs. Maybe they were kids who lived in the building and came to cause mischief (like Cory, Stanley, and Devon’s sister have done in the original show). But theirs? I wasn’t ready.

Then there’s the problem with “modern acting”. The era of the child star, where movies used to set a high standard for what a good little actor was, has gotten more lenient. These kids just don’t have the same star factor as kids from the 1980s and 1990s (though it made those kids’ lives miserable).

And so, I’ve come to realize that I don’t really like reboots like this. I do often long for the old days, but the actual “old days”. Not reboots, not remakes, and not spin-offs. I like shows better as re-runs. There are some reboots that have done really well, especially in the cinema area. But on TV, I haven’t seen many great reboots.

Raven’s Home actually was the best I’ve ever seen. It’s actually funny and I want to see how it goes in the future.

I was not as impressed with Girl Meets World. The characters we watched the show for brought little to the show besides some throwbacks here and there. And I was less interested in their daughter and her more cliche teen story. Most of her drama dealt with relationships, which was just corny. I know it was Disney doing it this time, but it shouldn’t have been done.

After seeing these reboots, I think I’ll pass on asking for reboots in the future. Some people are happy to see their favorite characters return, and they don’t care in what fashion.

But here’s some reasons why I can’t grasp this concept, the concept that makes our favorite characters grown up with kids:

It’s Different

It’s not just different in the sense that it’s a different show. When reboots happen, certain characters are replaced by new actors (which I heard is happening to Orlando Brown’s character Eddie), characters are omitted, and new characters are added. The theme song changes (sometimes to a less likable one because the popular styles have changed). The demographic shift changes the tone of the show. And the overall product is usually quite the opposite of what fans really wanted when they asked for a reboot in the first place.

This “difference” can make or break the show. Most times, the show is broken by the shift in focus. When people fall in love with a show, they just don’t fall in love with some characters and the concept of the show. Everyone on that set worked to make that show a success. Everyone from that show brought a different flavor. Without even one of those key characters, a reboot can feel stale or empty. It just doesn’t have the same fire. It’s even worse when the original MAIN character is no longer the main.

Sure, we know some people will make an appearance. But we know that those appearances will be temporary mostly, not key. If the characters were single without a family, we could kind of see them attaching to new people as well as adding older people, which could help the characters grow as if they are still the same people they were 10 years ago, still navigating life and trying to find themseles. We could even see a more adult show, a show that connects to the demographic that will mostly appreciate the reboot. We would actually have gotten a continuation.

But with a reboot comes a new focus, like in Raven’s Home‘s case. They basically have a new lead character (though we know Raven is the real character driving the story home). The child is the focus and is the one supposed to be bringing the humor to the new audience. But the younger child doesn’t have the same star power, and that’s what makes this concept weaker than the original. They’re going to have a lot to live up to. Stories about kids are also not as appealing as stories about teens.

But having the kids play as a focus kind of works in Raven’s Home‘s favor too because then we get to see how the psychic gene works. We get to see how a child could inherit these abilities. Still, it’s just weird to see Raven walking around with babies. Raven and Chelsea in the show haven’t changed personality-wise, and they just seem like they would be better as big sisters than mommies. But maybe that’s a new approach? I don’t know. I’m skeptical.

Nickelodeon is doing right by Hey Arnold! by continuing his story this fall with the long anticipated Jungle Movie. Most of the old cast is back, key characters are back, and the story is borrowing inspiration from the past. It’s the perfect way to go about bringing back old characters. The designs have only slightly changed, but not really. I wish Powerpuff Girls had come afterwards so they could learn how a reboot should be done. I hope the Rugrats reboot brings the same old characters back and doesn’t try to grow them up again (Remember All Grown Up anyone?).

Reboots can completely change everything. And that’s just not what I want or what I’m ready for. I just don’t like when something is fixed without being broken to begin with. I want the original. Bringing in a new focus means bringing in a different story and show, not the show I loved.

The one thing that makes me happy about Raven’s Home is that the lead character is a boy. When was the last time Disney Channel had a male lead character? Even Stevens? Phil of the Future? The Suite Life of Zack and Cody? Disney XD has kind of taken over for the boys, but Disney Channel is the oldest and has the strongest fanbase. It’s about time. Having a young male psychic will be an interesting contrast to a young female psychic.

I know a lot of people will say “Well, Disney is trying to bring this to a new audience. That’s why they brought kids along”. Of course, that’s true. But they didn’t have to make Raven and Chelsea moms to do that, and they didn’t have to make them “B-story” characters either.

Look at the success of Jessie starring Debbie Ryan. She was the lead character, not the kids. She played an adult nanny. And it turned out successful. I don’t think shifting the focus on Raven and Chelsea would’ve made this show any less interesting to kids. In fact, I think more people would find it interesting. But the show itself is still working and so far I’m surprisingly enjoying this more than I thought I would.

There are people who claim Girl Meets World didn’t hit it off with the primary demographic because “kids aren’t familiar with Boy Meets World“. I’d say the real issue is that there wasn’t enough focus on the people we learned to love in Boy Meets World, the people who really brought the comedy, fun, and depth. And when they did show up, they were corny, overly involved in their daughter’s life and didn’t seem to have lives of their own. And their daughter’s life wasn’t as interesting as theirs in their own series. Her trials were, quite frankly, stupid and over dramatic. There were hardly any funny moments either.

Sabrina Carpenter’s character Maya would’ve made a more interesting offspring than Rowan Blanchard’s character Riley (Cory’s daughter). But I guess with a now-preachy father like Corey and a corporate mom like Tapanga, Riley was the best they could come up with out of the union.

Sure, Boy Meets World had teachable moments, but ’90s comedies knew how to balance that with comedy well. Properly, shows back then touched on sex, violence, gangs, drugs, and peer pressure. Girl Meets World mostly touched on shallow cliche tween subjects like boyfriend issues and finding your own individuality. Then it had no “realism” about it. Sure, Boy Meets World had some out-of-the-box parts, but there was a slice of realism and life about it.

Throughout Girl Meets World, classrooms were interrupted with Riley’s personal life. Everything was forced to teach her lessons, she didn’t gather her lessons from “real” classroom lessons or real life, like Cory did in the original. And unlike Mr. Feeney, Cory’s teacher (and eventually his principal), Cory couldn’t seem to tell the difference between his classroom and his home. He showed so much favoritism towards his daughter and her friends in the classroom, I’m surprised none of the other students reported him (which actually would’ve made an interesting episode). Her father would literally change his classroom subjects to surround the topics on her and her friends. I understand this is her world, but it made the show really unrealistic, especially in comparison to the original. Scenes changed awkwardly and each story was just over-the-top for little reasons. This show had moral lessons, but for things that weren’t really deep at the core. Conversations felt awkward and jarring as a result.

Cory and his wife Tapanga were once dorky and likable kids that blossomed into successful and attractive adults in the original show. Riley and her lover Luke, on the other hand, are perfect and popular. They are one-dimensional in comparison. And this is because they had a good foundation with the already fleshed out characters from Boy Meets World. How complex could their lives be? We didn’t really need Riley’s perspective at all. Again, this is why Maya would’ve been the more interesting title character. Her “world” would’ve been completely different from her parents’ world. They could’ve woven a different interesting explanation for Maya’s behavior besides her complicated relationship with her father and her hardworking but mostly absent mother.

Fuller House is better because Full House never gave us the illusion that the show centered on kids and teens. It centered on the family. This show is more like a continuation than a reboot. The show always focused on adults and we’ve watched the Tanner kids grow up into adults throughout the original.

The good part about the show is some of the key characters are still the key characters, if not more important than they were originally. The kids are now the main characters, but their father and uncles are pretty important, too.

Still, all the characters we felt were cool kids back in the day are now lame adults, and there are new less memorable kids to replace them. I feel bad for the new kids.

Different isn’t always bad. But in the case of a reboot, many times it just feels so different, it doesn’t feel as good.

So far, Raven’s Home brings enough comedy to keep my attention for awhile. Hopefully, it maintains the same level of humor as That’s So Raven. Still, it just feels different. Different can be good though.

The Actors Have Changed

And I don’t mean changed as in they switched actors for a role. I mean the actors themselves usually have changed by the time of a reboot. Some haven’t been acting in years, which makes things a little hard for them and also makes it noticeable to the audience.

Actors who have had other acting experiences or other life experiences end up changing their character’s aura, which can always bring depth to a character but can also make the character seem like a stranger to the audience. Especially when that character is now nothing like expected or isn’t as likable as they once were.

With re-runs, the fun never dies. With reboots, sometimes we are left saying, “They’ve really let themselves go” or “Were they really this annoying?”. Public opinion of actors can tarnish their reputation and color people’s perceptions of a show, too.

Because of all that, many reboots are destined to fail at some point.

However, I see a lot of promise with Raven’s Home. Both Raven and Anneliese have become seasoned as actors over the years, which actually helps them get back into the swing of things naturally. This is more than I can say about Boy Meets World‘s Ben Savage.

We Feel Old

I believe I mentioned this before, right? Yes, because it keeps circling in my mind over and over again.

When a show makes a reboot years after the original, we are often seeing the inclusion of newer technology, newer slang, and older (sometimes older-looking) characters. I mean Raven and Chelsea in Raven’s Home are sporting “old lady” clothes, not the at-the-time fashionable, trendy, and flamboyant styles they once did. That makes us feel old, which makes us feel lame, stiff, and irrelevant. For some reason, we have been taught that being older means we’ve expired, and it’s not a good feeling to find your favorite childhood show suddenly verifying that. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I watch television to get away from the stresses of the world. I think I just realized Disney Channel is just no longer for me. But that’s exactly what makes me worry about Raven’s Home.

Watching re-runs doesn’t give me the same feeling of being “old” for some reason. It just feels like I’m young again.

My favorite book series as a kid, The Babysitters Club, is still really awesome. It’s not just because it’s about a group of kids starting a business. It’s also cool because it came out of the 1980s and 1990s. When I read it, my era comes alive again and my generation is relevant to me again.

Watching the New Edition biopic gave me that feeling. It made me think, “Yea, that was awesome. Our generation was cool. We still got it.”

Reboots with the main characters as parents and their kids set up as the main characters give me the feeling that our time has passed, that a new generation is taking over our lives, and that our chapter is closing before we’ve even established ourselves. It’s a somber thought, but one that I had when watching some of these reboots.

The positive thing about Raven’s Home is that Raven is so youthful and fun, I can still enjoy her with kids while also enjoying her as an adult. I think it is one of the best reboots to come out so far.

What We Don’t Know Can’t Hurt Us

At the end of our favorite show, there’s normally a solid wrap up that let’s us know the journey has come to an end. Sure, there may be some unresolved conflicts or hanging relationships, but anything else is left up to the imagination or left hanging in the air.

Fantasies about the future of the characters can be a lot of fun, but fantasies are fantasies. Only we personally can enjoy them fully.

We can imagine that Raven Baxter has a happy marriage with her handsome boyfriend Devon. We can imagine her becoming a fashion icon, famous and fierce. Or we can imagine that fleeting relationship between Raven and Eddie getting off the ground. Whatever we imagine, at the end of That’s So Raven, the sky was the limit. Ironically, in a show about the future, That’s So Raven left the future possibilities endless. There is a certain amount of joy and excitement when there is a little mystery. This mystery might have still been there if her life still hadn’t been quite “there”, even with her being older now.

But with a family, a job, and a new start from her old relationship, Raven Baxter seems to have achieved what most in her generation actually haven’t achieved. And that means she seems to have her life set. This means, as a character, she no longer has anything to aspire to. She doesn’t seem to have any goals or dreams beyond living for her kids and reaching back in the past for things she’s lost. This is where she disconnects from the audience and becomes something we not only can’t relate to anymore, but also something we actually fear. Our generation actually has an issue with following the rites of passage (particularly when it comes to marriage and kids). There are dozens of articles showing that this generation just isn’t living like Raven on television. And of course, it’s TV, it’s not real. But That’s So Raven was just more relatable to us at the time it arrived on the scene. Even Raven Symone herself said she’s “learning to be a mom” with this show because, again, even she doesn’t have kids.

In the show, Raven Baxter might develop some long-forgotten dreams she’s had, but they will have to yield to her new role as a mom. That’s just not the same.

While we’re also peering into Raven’s new life, there are some dreams or fantasies that have already become crushed and will continue to be crushed. Any imagination we may have had about the characters have been written for us. And that’s just not as fun as leaving the end to the imagination.

Anyway, overall, I did enjoy Raven’s Home for what it was, just as I had the other reboots, but I’m just hoping it can continue to capture its audience’s attention, despite the shift in focus from Raven to her kids mostly, and despite the fact that it just isn’t That’s So Raven.

Raven Symone herself is just phenomenal in her role! She just merges so naturally with her character! Nothing feels awkward and forced! Anneliese is the same! On set and off-set during interviews, they’ve continued to entertain me. I do look forward to seeing more of them.

I just know eventually this show has to become an independent property.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Did you enjoy the show? Were there things you didn’t like as much? Did you get the same feelings I got? Let me know!

 

 

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