For those unfamiliar with my blog and writing, you may not know that I am 20 years old. (If this is the first article you've read by me, sorry for my abrasive tendencies, love of capitalization for emphasis, and my constant mentions of Bunheads.) Being a millennial and a child of the early 2000s, I grew up during the Disney Channel Golden Age. This, being a self given term, was when every sitcom was firing on all cylinders, every DCOM was an event, and when the stars of the channel were the biggest names in showbiz.
I grew up with a vast knowledge of Hannah Montana's discography (It's still there, too. "I Got Nerve" is her best track and I will fight you on it.) I grew up knowing Taran Killam before SNL (Looking at you, Stuck in the Suburbs). I grew up counting the hidden Z's in Zenon: Z3 to unlock the bonus content online.
There was one person, however, that I grew up with that truly shaped me into the person I am today, and her name is Raven-Symonè.
That's So Raven was the pinnacle of television comedy for me, and frankly still continues to be. The chemistry between Raven and her costars (I love you Anneliese Van Der Pol!) was the best Disney Channel has ever seen. They never seemed scripted. Their comedic timing was top notch, especially for a sitcom made for a demographic that doesn't scream for impeccable line reading.
On the show, Raven showcased ability to be fantastic at verbal or physical comedy. It stills holds up, as well. Yes, she always has a vision and yes, she always gets it wrong. However, the variety of storylines they produced always kept the central idea fresh. The show was so successful, that Disney Channel allowed it to become the first sitcom on their network to reach 100 episodes. That is saying something.
On top of the successful series, she had The Cheetah Girls franchise, the Zenon franchise, a role in my favorite film of all-time (Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement) and many an album and single released.
When you hear comedians discuss who their idols growing up were, you always hear the same names. Carlin, Ball, Van Dyke, Pryor, etc. Raven is that for me. Some don't understand how someone so young can still be an idol, but I truly believe Raven-Symonè single-handedly gave me my love of comedy.
Not only was her work on her own sitcom inspiring, but how she held herself even more so. She always is appreciative of her fame and doesn't want to slack off. It is her job to perform and she does an incredible job at it. As someone who wants to get into the industry through comedy, it is a great message to carry around as I work towards achieving my goals.
On top of all that, we need to take a moment to talk about her music, because I am actually obsessed. I have a friend who will always play multiple Raven tracks in a row as we drive into Disney World now to get me excited for the day at the parks. Her covers are brilliant ("Superstition?" Great. "Grazin' in the Grass?" Legendary. I sang that so much that my 2nd grade teacher probably still loathes me to this day. "Double Dutch Bus?" Don't start playing it in the car, 'cause there isn't enough room for me to flail from excitement.) and her originals are even better ("Backflip" is my all-time, go to jam. "Some Call It Magic" is the only song I ever requested on Radio Disney...and 2 years after it was released. #SorryNotSorry). Heck, I could write a 20-age dissertation on how the Disney Channel Stars' covers would have failed without her riffing. (COME THROUGH, CIRCLE OF LIFE) She created an entire brand out of incredible comedy, fantastic music, and a genuineness and understanding of the business that led to my obsession and fascination with entertainment as a whole.
Why am I writing this now? Well, a few weeks ago, it was announced that That's So Raven would be receiving a reboot. I was watching The View when she made the announcement and it was a lot for me to handle. She said the words "That's So Raven 2" (or "Too"...maybe she was just citing the second soundtrack to her sitcom?) and I began to cry. This isn't me exaggerating. I actually began to cry over the announcement.
I do hope that they allow Raven to shine on the sequel, even if the show will prominently feature her kids. While I adore Girl Meets World, Cory and Topanga are not a focal point. Raven deserves to continue to be the star, as her brand of comedy has been sorely lacking on the network and TV at large. I NEED her to get into her own shenanigans on the new show.
The show means everything to me. It's a fantastic comedy, but also as the thing that kickstarted my love for the medium and genre. Here's hoping I can work my way up to being on the show in the ultimate full-circle moment.
Thank you, Raven-Symonè. For teaching me how to be funny. For showing me true talent. For being an inspiration for decades. Thanks. For everything.