Out of the four TV shows I’ve watched from pilot to series finale, I’ve always cried at the end. Partly because I wouldn’t watch an entire show unless I truly cared about it, and partly because I know I’ll wake up the next morning wondering how I’ll get through my life now that the characters I’ve spent all this time learning to love are no longer in it.
Yes, I realize how dramatic that is. It’s an actress thing.
So why do I think that the one I just finished, Disney Channel’s Jessie (which ended last year, apparently), is worth talking about more than others? Well, let’s see!
Jessie is the story of a girl just entering into adulthood, who leaves her military life in Texas to become an actress in New York. She’s picked up off the street by the wealthy Ross family, who have chased away every nanny so far, but are still willing to give Jessie a chance. The Ross children, Emma, Luke, Ravi, and Zuri, get one night of hating her, and then wouldn’t replace her for the world.
This show has so many faults. The rude humor. The adult comments. The way crushes became unhealthy obsessions. The constant belittling of everyone, even though it is shown beyond a doubt that the Ross family and their servants all love each other. I know all of these are played for laughs, but I think that compared to Liv and Maddie or Girl Meets World, both of which have much more family-friendly humor (though Disney is never perfect), Jessie really isn’t all that funny.
And of course there’s the fact that because my main passion is LOTR, I usually know better than to fall so hard for a common, crude Disney sitcom.
And yet somehow, fall hard I did. And I think one reason is because I loved those kids SO much. That’s an inconsistency for me because I almost always clash with children unless I make a special connection with them. But these children…at the beginning of the show they were so starved for love and didn’t know it that the strong maternal side that’s in me somewhere wanted to swoop down and help them. Their parents are so rich and famous that they are never home, which is the reason for all the nannies. But it’s implied that the reason the children kept chasing their nannies away was for attention. (Wow…just like Mary Poppins…and The Sound of Music…where once the starved-for-love children found the perfect nanny they grew more attached to her than to their parents, and were utterly dejected when she left.) The only other person who lives with the Rosses is their lazy butler Bertram, who insists he couldn’t care less what goes on.
When Zuri brings Jessie into her penthouse for the first time in the first episode, the family is fine with Jessie being the new nanny. But it takes her less than 12 hours to get the children all to hate her. Then the theme song rolled, and as I saw the fun and crazy things Jessie was doing with her adoring charges, I knew that somehow Jessie was going to win them all over. And she does…by finding the areas they are struggling with the most, and helping them through their pain. So I’m glad that if I couldn’t be there to guide them through life, Jessie could.
Another reason I see them hurting is because three of them are adopted. I love Emma in her own way of course, but her real parents are actually her real parents. Of course, Zuri was probably too young to remember being adopted, as she never speaks of her life in Africa. But Luke and Ravi have different stories. Ravi was the latest addition, as he was adopted from India one month before Season 1 starts, and he is the weak one, the sweet one, the gullible yet intelligent one. When he speaks of India it’s never with longing, and he seems to adapt very well (though he incessantly calls his parents Mr. Daddy and Mrs. Mommy well into his teens), but I can’t help but think he’s more scared than he ever shows. At least for that first season. And Luke…I think I have to say he’s my favorite, because he has a laid back, prankster attitude that occasionally gives way to vulnerability. He has one episode devoted to not being able to give up his stuffed koala because it was the only family he’d known before adoption, and another one trying to find information on his birth mother because his adopted one wouldn’t tell him anything. He came from Detroit, so at least he is the same race and from the same country as his adopted family That had to make it easier for him, but when he asked Mrs. Ross about his birth mother the rest of his family looked at him, because that was simply not a question asked in that house.
The other reason this show speaks to me so strongly is because of Jessie’s acting struggles. I know this show was not realistic; I know I shouldn’t be looking to it for inspiration, and I’m not, exactly. Because actually what I took away from this story is that if you have talent you know it, and if you don’t have it you never will. Probably not their intent, but I digress. But how inspiring it was when finally, in the last five minutes of the series, a director offered her the leading role in his new show in Hollywood. So even after four years of catastrophic auditions, roles that she came inches away from getting, and the pretty much constant flow of criticisms from her own family, stardom just fell into her lap due to a stunt she was seen pulling while rescuing her kids.
And oh, those last few minutes of show after she accepted the job. That gentle piano music playing that is always playing during good-bye forever scenes and series finales. The honestly sappy yet tear-jerking speeches she gave to the people who had changed her life as she hugged them goodbye. I couldn’t handle the emotion–and now I am once again feeling the urge to run down to the nearest studio and be a part of a story like this one.
Darn it, acting bug!
And this is why Jessie is worth talking about more than other shows. Do I recommend this show to everyone? No, no I don’t. It is a Disney Channel show; and the only reason I liked it was because it appealed to my interests. Apparantly there’s a spin-off show called “Bunk’d” which has three of the children, and no Jessie. I will not be watching it, because, it’s not Jessie! (Also because Luke is the missing child, due to his actor getting a gig on another show, and so I just watched the one episode he made a cameo in. It wasn’t great.)
Besides, Jessie somehow managed to organize the chaos of those four children, her personal life, a cranky butler and an overgrown lizard, all while just out of her child years! They changed for the better by turning into a loving, well-rounded family because of her. So she deserves a shout-out on a blog that describes her talents!