Ranking Disney Channel Shows from the 2000s
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
Some of my rankings even surprised me
I’ve been nurturing my inner child by rewatching my favorite Disney Channel shows. Some were even better than I remembered, and others just didn’t do it for me. With a potential Hannah Montana reboot in the works, it seemed like the perfect time to reminisce about easier times, and give a definitive rating of Disney Channel shows as an adult.
#5 Hannah Montana
Nobody’s perfect. Am I right? I know I’m about to make some enemies here but I really struggled to get through all four seasons of Hannah Montana. I just have so many problems with it.
First, Miley Stewart (not Cyrus) is incredibly whiny. She alienates her friends and very much lives in a world that revolves around her. You don’t want to root for a main character like that.
Secondly, Jason Earles is too old. At the start of filming, he was 29 and even if he didn’t look that old, it makes me cringe that he plays a 16-year-old.
There was also all this pressure of keeping “the secret” of her double life, but by the end of the series literally so many people knew: Lily, Oliver, Jake, Jesse, Jackson’s girlfriend, and the entire town of Crawley Corner’s Tennessee, which promised to keep the secret at the end of Hannah Montana The Movie.
I’m not even going to get into the Jesse versus Jake love triangle, or the ending when Miley went to film a movie in Paris after spending the season trying to get into Stanford to be with Lily. You can be the judge of that decision.
The only redeemable thing about Hannah Montana was Billy Ray Cyrus. He would sit down with Miley for these heart-to-hearts about whatever she was going through (à là Danny Tanner on Full House), and he always gave such perfectly poetic advice. His wisdom was the only thing that kept me watching.
Before the Jo Bros. broke up they starred as themselves in Jonas: a two-season musical/dramedy that I found absolutely adorable. The interesting thing about it is it’s the same format as Hannah Montana: rockstars taking on high school by day and the music world by night, except in this show, everyone knows they’re famous and no one treats them any differently. It’s a little out there even for Disney and that’s why it scored so low.
I did however, enjoy the incorporation of now TikTok famous, Frankie Jonas, and their real-life bodyguard “Big Rob.” They also cast fake parents who were rarely seen together, which was odd. This means they were playing themselves but also not playing themselves and I don’t think this show ever figured out what it was supposed to be, but we can’t blame the Jo Bros. for that.
The best part for me was in season 2 where it was rebranded as Jonas: LA. It was filmed like a soap opera with “previously on Jonas: LA…” intros. It followed each of the brothers as they ventured out on their own with the looming threat of a band breakup. In the end, a party on the beach showed they can balance personal endeavors with the band. If only life mimicked art.
#3 The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
I love the chaotic energy of The Suite Life, and the fantastic play on words for living in a hotel. We all wanted to roll around on luggage carts, antagonize Mr. Moseby, and listen to Estebon pronounce his name. The episodes were truly iconic, like the Halloween episode with the “Ghost of Room 613,” or when the school performed High School Musical and no one thought Maddie, who is played by Ashley Tisdale, looked like Sharpay, who’s also played by Ashley Tisdale.
What made this show lose points for me is that they made the character of London unnecessarily stupid. I get she is an heiress so her spoiled attitude makes sense, but she didn’t need to be the “dumb, pretty girl” archetype too. Especially because the actress that plays her, Brenda Song, turned down an offer from Harvard to take on the role. #LondonDeservedBetter.
#2 The Suite Life on Deck
This is where my rankings started to get challenging. Watching them back-to-back, I decided I loved the On Deck seasons more. And who wouldn't? They attended Seven Seas High on the S.S. Tipton and got to travel around the world while doing it. Every episode was memorable, but the Titanic inspired “Kidney of the Sea” episode and the 3-part Wizard of Oz based finale were true gems. The latter concluded with FINALLY getting to see London’s dad after keeping his identity hidden behind bodyguards for the entirety of the show.
What lost points for me is that almost every episode was based on other shows and movies. I admire the creativity in being able to incorporate all of those different styles with the plotlines of the On Deck characters. This is similar to what was done in the show Community, but contrary to that show, it felt more cliché than meta.
#1 Wizards of Waverly Place
Everything is not what it seems, except for how good Wizards of Waverly Place was. There were vampires, werewolves, angels, and of course, magic. And while these are fictional concepts, the struggles that Alex, Max, and Justin encountered as siblings growing up were real and relatable (aside from how unrealistically big and luxurious their NYC apartment was). The movie was also arguably the best television movie based on a Disney Channel show, and I think I learned what heartbreak was when Justin and Juliet had to break up.
However, nothing could have prepared me for the finale where the siblings ~seemingly~ lost their powers while saving Harper and Zeke during the infamous but allusive, Family Wizard Competition. After months of ignoring each other and being cruel, the siblings learn to love each other and their lives without magic before it’s revealed that this was actually the third challenge in the competition. Alex then becomes the family wizard, Justin becomes headmaster of the Hogwarts inspired “WizTech,” and Max gets the Waverly Place Substation. It was truly the only show from my childhood that felt like it had direction and purpose every season, and wasn’t drawn out with crazy plotlines or stupid hijinks, and that’s why it makes the top of my list.
Well there you have it. Wishes and Wayfinding’s definitive rankings of Disney Channel shows from the 2000s. Do you agree with our list? Wanna roast us for it? Let us know what you think about these Disney Channel favorites on social media!