Posted in Media, TV Shows

TV Show Review: Good Luck Charlie (Disney Channel, 2011-Present)

Recommended for ages 9-14

Good Luck Charlie is a Disney Channel show that follows the Duncan family, a family of six. The title refers to the youngest, Charlie (Charlene), and the videos that her family makes for her as a guide to growing up. Every video ends with her oldest sister (and star of the show) Teddy, played by Disney Channel favorite Bridgit Mendler, wishing Charlie “good luck” as she navigates her wacky family.

The show sticks to the Disney formula of having present, loving parents who tend to need more supervision than the children. While lacking much of the smart-alecky backtalk that some of the Nick shows have drawn fire for, the Duncan children, particularly the middle schooler Gabe, have no problem talking to their parents as their peers. Mom Amy may be a nurse, assuming a degree of intelligence, but she craves attention like a child; Dad Bob has his own bug-extermination business but seems to be lucky he can function on his own, as he comes across dim-witted beyond belief.

Each Duncan child is a stereotype: PJ, the oldest son, takes after his father in being slow-witted; high-schooler Teddy is the straight-A, neurotic overachiever; middle-schooler Gabe is the caustic, scheming pre-teen, and toddler Charlie steals the show with a cute word or smile.

The formulaic characters provide a comfortable familiarity to the ‘tweens who watch the show – they know what to expect, they know that they’ll get a laugh, and they know everything is neatly resolved by the end of the episode. The parents manage to be loving and supportive and offer disciplinary action when warranted; for instance, when Teddy is caught in a lie, she is grounded; when Teddy goes through a bad breakup with her boyfriend, her mother is there to hold her and tell her it will be okay. The kids come together and care for one another and their parents and have friends who they surround themselves with. They are good kids, a good family, with their quirks – kind of like most families.

Author:

I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading (http://whatchareading.com). I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (http://www.onwednesdays.net/), where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

3 thoughts on “TV Show Review: Good Luck Charlie (Disney Channel, 2011-Present)

  1. Roe I gotta disagree here, I don’t think it’s as formulaic as you make it seem. The problems they have are fairly odd (Teddy totaling her car 5 min after she bought it, PJ’s new girlfriend only being around to play with Charlie). I think the show is much better scripted and acted than most of the other fare. Shake it up? Jessie? Two good examples of horribly written badly acted shows. Even a show as popular as The Sweet Life was so sitcom formula driven and poorly acted that it make “Charlie” shine by comparison.

  2. I never said I didn’t like the show, it actually transcends its formulaic tendencies and provides some good, fun programming. I like that they bring different problems to the mix and yes, it is better acted. But the overarching plot of the show itself and the main characters follows – to a lesser degree than some, definitely – a formula. And that’s fine, because it’s familiar and it works.

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