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‘Andi Mack’: Bar Mitzvah Episode Explores Youth Anxiety in a Frightening but Compassionate Way

The Disney Channel family comedy continues to add depth and heart in its sophomore season.

"Andi Mack"

Disney Channel/Fred Hayes

[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from the “Andi Mack” episode “Cyrus’ Bash Mitzvah.”]

With an exuberant title like “Cyrus’ Bash Mitzvah!” Friday’s one-hour episode of “Andi Mack” lived up to the hype. The celebration held to observe Cyrus Goodman (Joshua Rush) becoming a man was as over-the-top as one would hope for the theatrical teenager. The “bash mitzvah” had it all: carnival games, a killer dance tribute, an enigmatic fortune teller, a caricaturist, something ridiculous called bungee racing, and a few unexpected revelations.

In the episode, the party serves as the backdrop for each of the characters to come to terms with some news, with varying results. Perhaps the most surprising reaction of all comes from Jonah Beck (Asher Angel), the perpetually cheerful Ultimate team captain who had been maybe dating (but let’s not put a label on it) the series’ protagonist, Andi Mack (Peyton Elizabeth Lee). Frustrated with existing in a dating limbo, Andi breaks off their strange semi-romantic relationship.

Here’s where the Disney Channel show takes a left turn. Instead of merely moping, dismissing the situation, flirting with other girls or any number of other expected behaviors, Jonah begins to feel physically strange. His heartbeat accelerates, he begins to feel short of breath, and then proceeds to have a full-on panic attack. A doctor on site diagnoses his condition and reveals that this isn’t unusual for a child and is in fact, an ongoing issue for some kids, which is a horrifying prospect for Jonah.

Asher Angel and Peyton Elizabeth Lee, "Andi Mack"

Ending the episode with Jonah asking to be Andi’s boyfriend for real this time isn’t just a melodramatic soap moment (even though it totally is). Instead, it reveals Jonah’s train of thought: Watching Andi move on and talk to another guy is what set him off, so getting back together with her should prevent future panic attacks, by his logic.

Except that might be a far too simplistic reading of the circumstances. The show has dropped clues along the way that Jonah actively avoids certain situations and anything overly serious commitment-wise. “I don’t enjoy conversations like this,” he says when Cyrus asks about Jonah and Andi’s ambiguous dating status, raising the question of what other times he’s avoided being pinned down.

The episode ends on the cliffhanger of Jonah and Andi’s possible rapprochement, without any indication if or what comes next with Jonah’s diagnosis or treatment. The series has often taken its time in unspooling its characters’ journeys in a natural, unforced way. No doubt Jonah’s issue won’t get wrapped up right away, but instead gradually shine a light on an issue that isn’t often addressed in adolescents. This development is also intriguing in that Jonah’s character has always been painted as particularly carefree, which in hindsight, may have been masking deeper issues.

The hour-long episode also featured a few other surprises for the characters. Buffy (Sofia Wylie) learns that even though her mother wouldn’t be deployed in the next two years, it’s possible that she would have to move, a realistic dilemma for any military kid. Basketball team captain TJ (Luke Mullen) still doesn’t know if he can face having a learning disability, and Cyrus finally comes out to Andi.

Sofia Wylie, Joshua Rush, Peyton Elizabeth Lee, "Andi Mack"

Cyrus’ coming out continues to be one of the most compelling and compassionately handled stories on the show. It began with the first episode this season when he came out to Buffy, but he held back from telling Andi because they both liked the same guy: Jonah. At his bar mitzvah though, he finally decides to come out to her in a moment of sympathy. Instead of unburdening himself, it’s an act of generosity when he reveals his secret because he demonstrates just how much he understands her pain and confusion over Jonah.

As with Buffy, Cyrus’ moment with Andi is accomplished simply and deftly. He never explicitly uses the word “gay” or any other labels. It’s also a humorous moment that hinges on their deep friendship and mutual exasperation with one Jonah Beck. It’s the best scene from an episode full of compelling revelations told with nuance and insight. And it’s also what we’ve come to expect from “Andi Mack.”

“Andi Mack” airs on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Disney Channel.

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