These Disney Channel Shows Were So Off-Limits

by Katherine Cusumano

They might not have come with a "viewer discretion is advised" warning, but Disney Channel shows were still the most contentious form of entertainment in my house. Vintage, parent-approved series played constantly: Tom and Jerry, Dick Van Dyke, I Love Lucy (even that scene where Lucy gets drunk off Vitameatavegamin, still one of the greats). Yet Lizzie McGuire was deemed too risqué for my delicate constitution — and, more likely, my sister's, at three years younger. A quick survey of some friends reveals that I wasn't alone. Too scary, too adult, too raunchy, too vapid — Disney Channel Original Series seem to be a taste endemic to '90s kids, or at least resulted in many stressful dinnertime discussions. And these 11 Disney Channel shows our parents wouldn't let us watch were at the top of the list.

Protective parents meant I didn't see many of these shows till my sister was old enough to watch them too, though I was an early Kim Possible adopter (there are still photos bobbing around our house of my Shego Halloween costume, because I would be the supervillain or nothing at all) and I would sneak in an Even Stevens here and there. But I got to them eventually, and soon enough to realize what I'd been missing out on. And my sister and I learned to do a mean Lizzie vs. Lizzie Lizzie McGuire Movie duet.

1. Even Stevens

What eventually became my favorite live-action Disney Channel show started off as the most taboo of series. This one continues to perplex me, because Ren Stevens was the model for everything I hoped to be in middle and high school: perfectionist, straight-A student, school newspaper editor, one-time cheerleader.

2. So Weird

So Weird earned comparisons to the X-Files, but it also bears similarities to a supernatural Veronica Mars: It was darker and twistier than anything else on Disney Channel at the time. But, of course, that meant your parents were that much more reluctant to let you watch it.

3. Lizzie McGuire

For starters, the "I want a bra!" episode was "legendary," in the wise words of a friend. But Lizzie McGuire was another show about navigating the complex social waters of middle school that so many parents just did not like — mine included. So risqué, right?

4. The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody

To be fair, this one probably wasn't banned because of its super-grown-up content. But when you're required to share a TV with parents who stake their own claim to evening football, the shrill voices of young Dylan and Cole Sprouse are likely the first thing to be sacrificed. I get it — I found most of the characters pretty vile, looking back — but, the household's eminent contrarian, I resented being told what I could and could not watch.

5. Bug Juice

Because the older generation's disdain for reality TV can't start early enough.

6. Flash Forward

Flash Forward was the very first official Disney Channel series to air, so most of us were really way too young to appreciate a story about eight-graders working their way through adolescence.

7. In A Heartbeat

In a Heartbeat follows a group of teenagers who work as emergency medical technicians in Darien, Connecticut. It's based on the town's actual cadre of EMTs known as Post 53 — a Grey's Anatomy for the younger set, and prohibited in your childhood for that very reason.

8. Dinosaurs

This show was terrifying and I understand why parents everywhere would turn it off. Dinosaurs aired from 1991 to 1994, and it gave me nightmares all the while.

9. Boy Meets World

Like Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens after it, Boy Meets World was a poignantly funny coming-of-age story that outlasted most others on Disney. But it was another one of those parents-think-it's-too-mature series that couldn't quite get past the overprotective censors.

10. The Baby-Sitters Club

If this one was off-limits for you, the books probably were, too. The Baby-Sitters Club originally aired on HBO but it was syndicated to Disney Channel later in its life.

11. Ready Or Not

Definitely the most adult of the Disney Channel series, both syndicated and otherwise, Ready or Not originally aired on Showtime before moving to Disney. It was something of a Gossip Girl for the '90s, confronting gender and sexuality in a way that not many other shows on the channel were doing at the time. But, of course, you were always far too young to watch it, right?

If you take a quick look at the Wikipedia page for Disney Channel Original Series now, you'll find a page full of unfamiliar names. The old guard of That's So Raven, Kim Possible, Christy Carlson Romano, and even, later, young Miley Cyrus have been replaced by new shows and new beloved characters — and probably, a host of parents out there, quietly telling their kids that they're not old enough yet.

Images: Disney Channel (3); Giphy (5)