Admittedly, I’m a few years behind as I just finished binging the Disney series Liv and Maddie (2013 - 2017) and happy tears are still streaming down my face as I write this. It’s been a long time since a show has brought me to these kinds of tears - on multiple occasions, which the show successfully did. While I was tweeting my progress as I watched, some people asked "What's so great about it?" and I feel the best part about the show - or even, dare I say, overall message that I got from it - is to follow your dreams, which is an important message that should never be forgotten and often is. I wasn't even seeking this series out when I found it. It just popped up on my Netflix feed and I couldn’t stop watching.
For those who’ve never heard of this series, the core of the show revolves around a pair of twins, Liv and Maddie who are sisters by chance, friends by choice. Liv, is a successful actress and singer who has decided to return home from being the lead of a TV series called “Sing it Loud” in Los Angeles to spend her high school years with her sister and family in Wisconsin.
Maddie, her twin, is a competitive and achieved basketball player. Joey, one of their younger brothers is a fantasy geek and has an extremely hard time making friends. Parker, the pre-teen baby of the family is a scientist and inventor. Karen is their mother who starts as the school’s counselor, and then promoted to Vice Principal And Pete, their father, who’s the high school’s (and Maddie’s) basketball coach. The series went for four seasons, with 80 episodes in total.
With this blog post, I have no intention of robbing you of the enjoyment of watching the Rooney family grow up together - and, yes, that goes for Mr. and Mrs. Rooney as well. More often than not, you'll find me watching TV shows on networks such as The CW, Freeform, Disney, Nickelodeon, and Netflix via Dreamworks and sometimes feel that these types of shows don't get the recognition that they deserve, and I'd like to change that - even if it's just one blog post at a time.
I did a little research on how the show was originally conceived and then after filming the pilot, the entire concept was changed, which then gave us the gem Liv and Maddie (which this probably explains how everyone in the family has brown hair, while Liv and Maddie are both blonde.) I’m glad that Disney and the creative team behind the show didn’t give up on it, as a lot of Hollywood projects have so many uphill battles to conquer in order to make it to the airwaves. So, to John Beck and Ron Hart… thank you for these stories. I, being a teen/YA TV show enthusiast, am not sure how I’ve gone this long without knowing about you, but I’m paying attention now, so keep up the good work. (Also, shameless self promotion here, I’d love to meet with you guys to pick your brain on your creative process. Please DM me.)
My next shout out goes to Dove Cameron, the lead actress who played both the roles of Liv and Maddie throughout the entire series - also kudos to the editing team as the green/split screen moments were hardly noticeable (to me, anyway). Dove, you’ve probably been told this a million times over, but you’re going places. I’m putting you up on the same pedestal as Nina Dobrev from The Vampire Diaries. After watching Nina’s work on TVD, playing both Elena, Katherine, and all her other dopplegangers, I know she's a treasure to work with and hope to one day work with her; and now Dove, you’ve been added to the list.
Joey Bragg also gets a shout out. I related to his character because I also had a hard time making friends as a kid. Part of that has to do with not really knowing who I was and coming to terms with my sexuality, which is a completely different blog post all together, but it was great to see this character grow while also staying true to himself throughout his entire journey. If Joey Rooney were in my social circle, either as I was growing up or right now, I think I could be friends with him based on his love of cats alone.
I liked how positive the series was toward social issues - the main one being about how society treats girls. Liv constantly wanted to use her career to change the conversation from girls can only like pink and barbies to girls are beautiful, no matter what they look like. A message that is really important for young viewers everywhere.
I also enjoyed how science and learning were happily practiced - highly unbelievable for a preteen to make all those inventions (and dig all those holes), but still happily practiced. It was nice to see Karen and Pete not live vicariously through their children. They let their kids be who they were and supported them in their endeavors, while also living their own lives. (With the exception that I do think that Joey and Parker got off way too easy for collapsing the Rooney home at the end of season 3, but this is a comedy series, so I’ll let it slide.)
It was really interesting how the show tackled traditional Hollywood. Nobody cared that Liv was a TV star - mostly - and her peers treated her like she was one of their own - again, mostly. Maddie at one point dated one of Liv’s costars and she didn’t get starstruck over him. Hardly anyone got starstruck. It was a nice take. Refreshing, actually.
As a Teen/YA/Fantasy writer/producer, it’s my dream to write and tell stories that will inspire people. Not to open a can of worms, but lately, I’ve felt a little lost, creatively speaking, which has felt paralyzing. But ever since I turned on that first episode of Liv and Maddie my creativity has sorta bounced back. So, thank you to the cast and crew for reminding in every single episode to stay true to myself and to keep following my dreams.
Good Bye, Rooney family! I'll miss you!