Reminder: Disney Axed 'Lizzie McGuire' Reboot Because 30-Something Lizzie Can Get It
It was a reboot that dreams were made of. At Disney's 2019 D23 Expo, the company announced that early aughts TV icon, Lizzie McGuire was set to make a triumphant return to the small screen, sending 90's kids everywhere into an absolute tizzy. An adult series centered around a now 30-something Lizzie navigating the twists and turns of living in New York City, the series had all the makings of a nostalgic, streaming-era smash, with several members of the original cast reprising their roles, including Adam Lamberg as Lizzie's lovable best friend, Gordo, Jake Thomas as her annoying little brother, Matt, and of course, our titular heroine herself, portrayed by Hilary Duff, with the sitcom's original creator, Terri Minsky signed on as a showrunner.
“Lizzie has also grown up, she's older, she's wiser, she has a much bigger shoe budget.” Duff described of the series and her grown-up character during its D23 debut, per Variety. "She has her dream job, the perfect life right now working as an apprentice to a fancy New York City decorator."
Yet even with all of its creative promise and hype, with every rumor, update, and behind-the-scenes snaps finding fast virality among rabid fans, expectations for the show to be a TV equivalent of Lizzie's performance at the now-defunct Italian Music Awards in her eponymous 2003 flick were tragically thwarted, the series taking a sharp (or, well, flat) and unexpected turn for the “sing to me, Paolo," falling on its face before retreating into nostalgic reboot oblivion.
Even with all the hype and excitement from millions of zillennials (myself included) who unapologetically idolized Lizzie, bought every product with her cartoon iteration printed onto it (I admittedly dropped a little too much money on the Colourpop x Lizzie McGuire makeup collaboration a few weeks ago), and memorized every word to each of Hilary Duff's Disney-fied singles, the series never came to fruition, leaving one question in its tangible absence. To quote the 2017 memoir of another well-known Hil(l)ary also adored by hordes of millennial women, What Happened?
While we may never know what, exactly went down in those creative meetings throughout its relatively short, albeit highly-anticipated existence, by several accounts, Lizzie's modern downfall seems to have been yet another casualty to Disney+'s controversial and unrelenting dedication to exclusively creating “family-friendly” content, whatever the hell that even means.
To put it bluntly, Disney was not cool with a 30-something Lizzie getting laid.
An absurd revelation recently re-popularized in a viral tweet by @simonefiii, by several accounts, the notion of an adult Lizzie doing age-appropriate, adult things seemed to be a prevalent problem throughout production.
The first sign of trouble in paradise? In January 2020, showrunner Minsky suddenly departed the project, with the series, which began filming the previous fall, going on hiatus. "Fans have a sentimental attachment to Lizzie McGuire and high expectations for a new series," a Disney spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter of the creative shake-up. “After filming two episodes, we concluded that we need to move in a different creative direction and are putting a new lens on the show."
Despite this vague explanation, a post from Duff quickly clarified the show's existential creative fallacy. “Was incredibly excited to launch ‘Lizzie’ on D+ and my passion remains,” the actress wrote on Instagram last February. “However, I feel a huge responsibility to honor the fans’ relationship with Lizzie who, like me, grew up seeing themselves in her. I’d be doing a disservice to everyone by limiting the realities of a 30-year-old’s journey to live under the ceiling of a PG rating. It's important to me that just as her experiences as a preteen / teenager navigating life were authentic, her next chapters are equally as real and relatable."
In order to maintain that relatability, the actress had a single request for Disney – let the show switch to another platform majority-owned by the corporation. "It would be a dream if Disney would let us move the show to Hulu," she wrote. "If they were interested, and I could bring this beloved character to life again."