On August 23, 2019, the internet exploded (along with the Anaheim Convention Center) at the news – Lizzie McGuire reboot coming to Disney+ – for her now grown-up fans! Of all the originals announced for Disney+, Lizzie’s received the most fanfare. It was the most talked about new series, the most covered, and the one Millennials were most excited about. When Disney made the bewildering decision early 2020 to part ways with original creator Terri Minsky mid-production and then pause production entirely, fans felt cheated.
It got worse. News broke that the 2 episodes filmed were deemed “too mature” due to acknowledging a 30-year-old woman had a sex life and had been cheated on. A show that had supposedly been approved by all the necessary execs and greenlit as a realistic portrayal of a woman in her 30’s no longer met Disney’s ever-changing standards. People were not pleased. Subscribers and fans felt insulted.
Right around Disney+’s launch, Disney and Disney+ underwent a lot of leadership changes which seem to have resulted in a disappointing new strategy – Disney+ would be a glorified babysitter service. Despite the initial plans always setting a PG-13 and TV-14 age cap, it was clear in the 6 months between Disney+ announcement and launch that Disney intended to respect their full audience and utilize the upper ratings. For example, Malcom in the Middle (2000) was heavily featured in their initial announcement of Disney+ April 2019.
As we’ve seen in the 1.5 years since, this was false advertisement. Disney ultimately opted to keep all TV-PG and TV-14 series on Hulu, despite fitting within Disney+ age allowance.
The first six months of the service gave subscribers whiplash as executives systematically dismantled Disney’s announced originals lineup – moving Love Victor (2020) and High Fidelity (2020) to Hulu for the same reason they killed Lizzie – “too mature.” As the pandemic-worn year dragged on, the displaced Lizzie reboot cast continued to express their frustration over the creative differences brought on by what they described as hypocritical, wishy-washy execs. In spite of all this, the cast continued to meet and plan – utilizing the lockdown to keep the show alive. Terri Minsky even joined them giving hope that she would be return despite her firing earlier in the year.
“It’s just a pity – Disney were supposed to be blazing the trail, not playing catch up.” #iCarly #LizzieMcGuire #DisneyDejaVuTweet
Then, in December 2021, Paramount+ seized the moment to stick it to the more powerful Disney brand. They would be reviving iCarly in a new, more mature version aimed at the adults who grew up watching it as opposed to the children who had no connection to the brand. Lizzie McGuire fans had deja vu.
Mere days after iCarly’s reboot announcement Hilary Duff announced Disney had officially cancelled Lizzie. Paramount+ has shown considerably more respect to their adult subscribers and their IP by allowing it to evolve and grow instead of being condescending. Not only did they follow through – they did it quickly. Only 6 months after the reboot was announced, it’s premiere day. I’ve already watched it, enjoyed it, and appreciated it.
Thus far fan reception to the new iCarly (2021) opening titles and trailer has been incredibly positive! Normally reboots are subjected to tons of “who asked for this?” and dislikes on their videos but, perhaps due to the novelty of being the first “kids show” allowed to grow up in its reboot (looking at you, Girl Meets World (2014) and Raven’s Home (2017)), iCarly is on track to be a smash hit.
Numerous articles have been written about the iCarly reboot specifically calling out Disney’s poor decision to reverse their initial plan for an adult Lizzie after 2 episodes had been filmed. The entire day the trailer was released Lizzie McGuire and #LizzieMcGuire trended on Twitter. The YouTube comments for iCarly were filled with comments like “Disney could never” or “This is what Lizzie was supposed to be.” There is no way Disney was blind to this. It was everywhere.
Hilary Duff recently committed to starring in a new Hulu show, How I Met Your Father. Many fans hope that once these these 10-episodes are filmed Disney will come calling once more. If iCarly does well today, they will certainly want to try again. It’s very doable to film two 10-episode series a year and maybe 2022 will see Lizzie live again.
It’s just a pity – Disney were supposed to be blazing the trail, not playing catch up.
Check out our new interview with the organizer of the Save Lizzie campaign here. And enjoy iCarly!
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.