Standouts in the kids live action genre have been few and far between since around 2013 as kids networks jump from one extreme focus (ie. high concept, low concept, 50/50 male-female draw, no shows based at school or home, etc) to the next in their mystifying search for new content. When I get the chance to attend a school career day, I always ask kids what they watch. Overwhelmingly, they have been very into Friends and Full House (thanks to Netflix for bringing these shows to a new audience). Nostalgic series have become both popular for Gen Z and an easy thumbs-up ?? for executives serving that demo. Joy Cheriel Brown recently published an article entitled “Can Nostalgia Sustain an Industry.” It caught my attention by bringing Girl Meets World and Fuller House into the mix. When we get into kids live action or “family sitcoms” that are not-so-secretly kept afloat by younger viewers, the “nostalgia” element takes on a different form.
Current Reboots Are Not Nostalgia for Gen Z
With “Girl Meets World” and “Fuller House,” the shows have to adapt to a Gen Z audience while connecting with the original Millennial (and even Gen X) fans. It’s a strange and fun balancing act. “Girl Meets World” was not exactly what the original “Boy Meets World” audience was hoping for, but kids loved it. They were furious and insisted that they’d abandon Disney Channel when “Girl Meets World” was canceled. We received tons of comments about it on Piper’s Picks interviews and coverage. We’ve seen this pattern repeat itself with Gen Z over the years. The same is happening now with “Andi Mack” (the kinda, but not-really pseudo-replacement for Girl Meets World) being canceled. Now we’re going to get a reboot of Lizzie McGuire (in my opinion, one of Disney Channel’s best and most relatable series) from Andi Mack’s creator, Terri Minsky. I’m quite confident that it will be very well-written and will do well. However, for now, the pattern is repeating with distraught Andi Mack viewers.
Where Kids Live Action Is Heading
The reboot-push in Hollywood has been on a steady climb for years. As Joy eluded to in her article, it certainly takes a toll on new concepts and writers in the pitch room. I’ve heard “I like it! We haven’t done anything like that yet!” in the pitch room. We’ve come to a point where maybe that is actually a bad thing? There are a lot of very talented writers out there who have produced huge hits for kids live action. The kids networks have been around long enough now the they are actually rebooting some of these hits in hope of getting parents (largely moms) who watched the originals on board. Perhaps it’s time to back more of these writers by investing in their new projects as well before we end up with an abundance of nostalgic reboots in the kids live action sector as well. Even Raven can see that won’t be a good future for a demographic already struggling with sliding ratings.