The Suite Life of Zack and Cody

Thursday, July 5, 2007

We're a "basic cable" kind of family. Therefore my kids get tv viewing is limited to the Discovery Channel and the major networks. On a good day, ESPN comes in with lots of fuzziness. So when we visit grandma's house, or stay in a hotel, the premium package is theirs to O.D. on--with parameters. One show they enjoy is: "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody". I've glanced at it here and there but this past weekend I decided to join in on the viewing.
Zack and Cody are twin teenage boys who are somewhat parented by a single mom. No dad in view and no mention of dad in the two episodes I watched. Mom has a few lines in the half hour but is often dismissed or ignored. Her role seems like more of an afterthought. This particular episode I watched has two teenage girls anticipating their role in a fashion show. The fashion show's director is a snooty young lady from France who not so subtly points out that one of them "has a big butt" and the other has "chicken legs". The mere mention of this sends the two girls into an emotional tailspin. The remainder of the show focuses on the larger girl exercising non stop and starving herself and the thin girl gorging on all food in sight. The fashion show begins and the "fat" girl walks on stage and promptly faints; the skinny girl hits the end of the stage and lets out a huge belch while holding back her vomit. As the two girls return down the runway, they accidentally pull back the curtain to find "Francesca" the French model and critic stuffing her bra with toilet paper.
They attempt to make light of the whole fiasco but the message has already been sent to my young viewers. While I understand the audience the Disney Channel is aiming for is tweens and teens. And I know these are issues teenage girls have battled for generations. But I thought the current mode of thought was to "empower young women and show them that what's on the inside is more important." "Encourage them to play sports and build their confidence." Wow, we've come so far.