Lessons I learned from Disney Channel Original Movies

| TV Editor

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge proponent of the “High School Musical” franchise—well, besides the second one. Anything involving Zac Efron and musical numbers gets my seal of approval. However, the rest of the Disney Channel’s recent lineup of original films sounds horrendous (“Dadnapped”? Really?). So to present my plea for better-quality Disney Channel Original Movies (heretofore known as DCOMs), I have compiled a list of the important life lessons the DCOMs from my childhood espoused:

– Ryan Merriman is the ideal man: The golden boy of the DCOM era, Merriman was cute, charming and smart. So smart, he outsmarted the Smart House, for P.A.T.’s sake! Plus, he even pulled off the pointy-eared, red-haired leprechaun look in “The Luck of the Irish.” That takes a true stud.

·Never make assumptions: Yes, Piper, your African exchange student is white. Now, don’t you feel ridiculous in your African garb? And yes, Mahree, you are a racist for living in South Africa and supporting apartheid and assuming any American host family would be white.

·Sometimes, it pays to be ignorant: If Duncan (Will Friedle, aka Eric from “Boy Meets World”), a resident of Washington D.C., had been a fully-functioning human being and actually known that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the address of the White House, he might never have shown up to take the girl he met at the mall on a date, and would subsequently not have scored his dad a sweet promotion and himself an awesome relationship with the President’s Daughter. Take that, common knowledge!

·In high school, freedom reigns: Wow, I can’t wait to be in high school! I can be like Hayley from “Wish Upon a Star” and wear a literal dominatrix outfit: chains, leather, fishnets and all, and do a striptease dance on a cafeteria table! What an education! (Seriously, find the clip on YouTube if you don’t believe me). And yet, Hayley gets her retribution in the end by coupling with the unfortunate-looking, gnome-like mute, Simon. Mixed messages…..

·DCOMs are the beginning of a great acting career; Academy Award winner Diane Keaton starred in the very first DCOM, “Northern Lights” in 1997, setting a high standard for the caliber of actors in these films, and look where they are now: Ryan Merriman was in “The Deep End of the Ocean” in 1999. Xenon (Kirsten Storms) is totally on “General Hospital” now. Camilla Belle’s first role was in “Rip Girls” in 2000, and she’s world-famous now for dating Joe Jonas. And who can forget the legacy of the Lawrence brothers? Wait, everyone. One DCOM star has, unfortunately, actually succeeded in becoming a full-fledged star: Katherine Heigl. My hatred for her aside, her work in “Wish Upon a Star” is arguably her best, especially the sequence at the very end with Alexia (Heigl) and Hayley (Danielle Harris) staring admiringly at each other as they dance with their significant others—for a full 90 seconds. Another YouTube must!

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