Thanks, Lizzie McGuire, for being my bestie growing up
I watched Lizzie McGuire for the first time when I was twelve. I’d just started at secondary school and my thoughts were a tangle of musty-smelling textbooks, strange new corridors and over-analyzing conversations with friends. The world suddenly felt like a foreign place with no map, and the main comfort was arriving home, grabbing a handful of biscuits and slumping onto the sofa to watch Lizzie McGuire.
Lizzie was about the same age as me and had cool outfits and worried about bras and boys. That was enough for me to like her.
As an awkward, socially anxious girl with only a few friends, I also found it comforting that she had a small friendship group, while when late into the evening I was still stressing over homework, I could disappear into the cosy sets of the Digital Bean and Lizzie’s perfectly decorated bedroom. The strange thing is, there’s a moment where certain TV shows become more than just a TV show. After you’ve watched each episode a million and one times, know every character in great detail and have even tried to replicate the main character’s wardrobe, it feels more like a friend.
For every tearful, confused, pubescent-driven drama of my early teen years, there was Lizzie. If I wasn’t watching the show to take my mind off things, I was discussing it with friends or just generally trying to take on Lizzie’s persona to feel more confident in handling things.
Through the confusion of growing up and life in general, we need things like TV shows to distract ourselves. They can offer us a simpler version of the world, one that’s contained in homey and beautiful sets with narrative patterns, inspirational hairstyles and conversations that are written to always, somehow, find a conclusion. It’s for this reason that I’ve never stopped befriending TV shows and their characters, dreaming of writing a column for the New York Star when I was 17 and then later wishing I could drink in the MacLaren’s Pub with Ted, Marshall, Robin, Barney and Lily.
We follow these fictional characters lives like ghosts, taking from them what we can to feel stronger or better or just a little less lonely. I may not have had a cartoon manifestation of my anxieties, but I did learn how to be honest and kind through Lizzie. I became the kind of person that would rather have a few true friends than be part of the popular crowd. I’d have happily spent an afternoon tie dying bed sheets in dungarees over going out drinking in the park, and would always strive to choose a Gordo over an Ethan.
While Lizzie was never going to answer my calls at 2 in the morning and talk me through the boy who never replied to my MSN, or come over to help me fix those grey streaks I accidentally dyed into my hair, she still helped me to grow and understand the kind of person I wanted to be. As unrealistic and sometimes silly as her show might have been, I’ll still always be thankful to her creators’ for that.