Disney Channel’s groundbreaking coming-of-age series, Andi Mack, ends its acclaimed run after three seasons on Friday, July 26. Creator/executive producer Terri Minsky talks about the “nevers” that made her proud, the messages that made her cry…and what it would feel like to be nominated for an Emmy.
Cynopsis: What is the genesis of the series?
Terri Minsky: The idea for “Andi Mack” is actually based on Jack Nicholson’s life story — he was raised not knowing that his sister was actually his mother. When the Disney Channel asked if I had any ideas for a show, I thought, “What if Jack Nicholson were a 13-year-old girl?”
Cynopsis: What are you most proud of with the show?
Minsky: We managed to avoid a lot of teenage story tropes. We never had a student body election, we never went to a school dance, we never awkwardly paired two kids up to do a class project from which they learned a valuable lesson about themselves and each other. Rather than do a Christmas or Halloween episode, we chose occasions which were more true to our characters – Chinese New Year’s, the Harvest Moon Festival, and a Bar Mitzvah, complete with a Torah reading. Probably the episode I’m most proud of is the shiva episode in season three. In it, Cyrus came out to Jonah by saying “I’m gay,” words that had never before been spoken on the Disney Channel. The title of the episode, “One In a Minyan,” was a memorial to my father. My intention for every episode of Andi Mack was that it would do three things: make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think. The shiva episode did all of that; it would have been perfect, if only we hadn’t mixed meat and dairy on the buffet table.
Cynopsis: What viewer reaction most affected you?
Minsky: The Andi Mack Paper Crane Project. I can’t even describe the feeling. Originally, it was a project to send a thousand origami cranes to the Disney Channel to get a season four pickup, but it was announced the show was ending with season three before the project was finished. Now it’s a love letter to the show in the form of an Instagram account – @andimackpapercraneproject – pictures of origami cranes, each with a message from a viewer about what the show means to them: #617: “Andi Mack has empowered me to be myself.” #557: “It’s the one thing I can watch with my mom.” #535: “I didn’t realize that I had dyscalculia until I learned about T.J.’s and I eventually opened up about it and now I’m getting the help I need.” #33: “Andi Mack pushed me to finally learn sign language.” #77: “Andi Mack has helped me with anxiety and just getting through my everyday life.” Every single image brings tears to my eyes.
Cynopsis: What is the secret to achieving both viewer and critical acclaim?
Minsky: I don’t know that there’s a secret. To me, it feels more like a gift.
Cynopsis: What would it mean to be nominated for an Emmy?
Minsky: What can I say? It’s a pantheon. Who doesn’t want to be in a pantheon?