Friday, August 24, 2012

Disney Show Jessie Celebrates Gotcha Day

I mentioned last year about this time that Disney Channel was debuting a show about Jessie, nanny to a family with 4 children, 3 of whom were adopted. My kids have been avid watchers, and told me excitedly earlier in the week that they'd seen an ad for a new episode where they were celebrating Zuri's Gotcha Day.  So we're watching it now.

The show gave a pretty standard definition of Gotcha Day as the day an adopted child joined the family.  Oh, and we discover where Zuri is from -- Uganda.  Up until now, it's been the irritating information that she's from "Africa," as if that wasn't 54 different countries and countless different cultures. Almost immediately the show backslides, deciding to use "Africa" as the decorating theme for the party. Sigh.

Ravi, adopted from India, says for his gotcha day celebration he wants curry and an ice sculpture of the Taj Mahal.  That's where Jessie comes up with the idea of using "Africa" as the decorating theme instead of rainbows and unicorns, which Zuri wants.

Now we're hearing Luke's gotcha story, or at least his version of it -- he's a superkid from Krypton they found in the park.  Ravi's story reveals a secret, that they were expecting a baby instead of a young boy.  Now Ravi thinks he's a big disappointment.  And the parents are mad at Jessie who spilled the beans that the family was expecting a baby.  They say they weren't planning to tell him until after they died (though they hadn't quite figured out how).

Now the parents are apologizing for not having told him the truth sooner.  Oh, joy, the parents say, "There's no doubt that you were the kid we were meant to have." Family hug!

But the butler knew better than Jessie, and decorated the whole place with pink unicorns and rainbows.  Success.  But in a nod to Zuri's heritage, Dad brings her a zebra. Oh, and we discover that Dad is the one who told Luke he was from Krypton.  And he asks, "Was that wrong?!"

Zoe and Maya say they liked tonight's show.  But Maya says the parents should have told the truth to Ravi and Luke from the beginning. If he knew the truth from the beginning, Ravi wouldn't have been so sad when he found out. 


Rebecca Hawkes said...

I have been baffled by the adoption themes on that show for quite some time. Still am, but you've cleared a few things up for me at least.

Sharon said...

Here's what I hate about that show: they have Ravi talking with an Indian accent even though he's been in the US for some time. It's clear that they are doing this only so that they can have a kid with a "funny" Indian accent in the cast. My Indian daughter was almost 6 when she came to the US -- no accent anymore. My kids (2 Ethiopian, 1 Indian) don't especially like this show.

malinda said...

I agree, Sharon, the Indian accent is annoying. But the premise of the show is that he was adopted only a few months ago. What I find more curious is that his English is impeccable. I know English is one of the official languages of India, but wasn't sure how much exposure to the language kids from orphanages would have. . . .

Sharon said...

Exactly, Malinda. Kids in an orphanage don't learn conversational English, really. My daughter could say, "My name is ____ and I live at ___ orphanage," which she'd been taught to say in English, presumably if she ever got lost somehow. She also knew a little song about brushing her teeth, her numbers and colors -- that's it. Ravi talks like he's been in a fine English boarding school in New Delhi.

The Gang's Momma! said...

I saw snips and snippets.... Not a fan of the show in general, for many of the reasons other folks always cite when discussing Disney tween shows (absent parents, snarky pre-teens, unrealistic wealth and lifestyle given the "backstory," etc.).

In terms of kudos: I did love how they all came around their son from India to explain that even tho he wasn't what they "expected" he was exactly what their hearts wanted and needed. That part was handled well and I sheepishly confess I got a little teary.

AND, I didn't at all mind the desire to decorate in an African theme - I felt it was that character's honest and heartfelt attempt to connect with and honor the other character, even as misguided as it may have been. After all, in the story line, Jessie is a herself a kid, helping parent kids and this family is her "first exposure" to int'l adoption.

To me, it's a classic real life scenario that many of us adoptive parents bump against every day and an example of how we can use it to look to the heart of the intention. Like looking at the intention when we get asked invasive questions as "conspicuous families."

All in all, I felt as if it was not so terrible a rendition of real life adoption scenarios set within some really unrealistic show themes.... Yes, they could have done some of it better. But in context, it's a lower budget Disney show that does what all Disney shows do: create a dilemma, go over the top to solve it, and wrap it up with a pretty Mickey Mouse bow in 28 minutes. Eh.