In these uncertain times, there is nothing better than curling up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn — or some off-brand Goldfish from Aldi — and turning on a familiar classic, a task made much easier due to the numerous streaming services only a click away. While watching Despicable Me on Netflix or long-forgotten episodes of Spongebob Squarepants on Prime Video may fill the void of human contact that quarantine has left, I find that Disney Plus has an unmatched ability to provide instant happiness through its nostalgic sitcoms, animated masterpieces and vibe of joy and childhood whimsy. What I did not realize entering this “coronacation,” however, was the power of Disney music, a magical strength I discovered only through the Disney Family Singalong and the voices of Beyonce, Demi Lovato and, most influentially, Ariana Grande.
You wouldn’t think the most influential part of being stuck in quarantine would happen nearly a month in — the morning hours of April 17, to be precise — yet there I was, up at 2:45 a.m. for the umpteenth night in a row, scouring the pages of Hulu recommendations for something to fill the air. As I resigned myself to yet another night of Law and Order: SVU, whose horrors only slightly lost out to the reality of COVID-19 life, I stumbled upon an odd recommendation: the Disney Family Singalong.
Momentarily confused about when I had switched to the Disney-operated streaming site, I clicked the program for more info and found the likes of Full House icon John Stamos, always-spectacular Donny Osmond and the cast of the millennial-favorite High School Musical uniting for what could only be described as a “nostalgia-fest” of rich and talented people giving unique renditions of classic Disney tunes.
Seeing the unmatched faces of Destiny’s Child-alum Queen B herself, everyone’s favorite Camp Rock-er Demi Lovato and the most underrated artist of our generation, Tori Kelly, brought me even closer to clicking the play button.
The sight of my goddess, the living legend Ariana Grande, dressed as Megara from Hercules had me jumping on the special like I didn’t have an entire AP Euro assignment I hadn’t started due later that day.
And I regret nothing.
I hadn’t realized just how much fear I had until I started watching the special. I didn’t realize how afraid I was that wishing upon stars for a better tomorrow wouldn’t work until Beyonce told me that when you do so, “your dreams come true.” I didn’t acknowledge how much I feared never again seeing all the colors of the wind in quite the same way, until Tori Kelly promised I would. And just when I thought I couldn’t get any more nostalgic, Ariana Grande herself came on screen, her iPhone-shot video of poor quality, but her voice never less beautiful and moving.
I almost made it through the entire show without crying — sure, seeing Josh Gad sing “Gaston” from my favorite Disney musical made a happy tear come to my eye, and the rendition of “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” by Michael Buble and Demi Lovato set to sent-in videos of people supporting our essential workers made me truly appreciative — but there was no stopping the tears when Troy Bolton himself (Zac Efron) came on the screen to introduce the rest of his cast 14 years later for a singing and dancing full-energy rendition of “We’re All in This Together.”
Was I infuriated when Efron left before the song even started? Sure.
Did I see the need for random casts of people to join in? Not at all.
Was I upset when obnoxious TikTok icon Charlie D’Amelio came on screen for a pointless dance with a group of much more iconic people? Most definitely.
However, regardless of the many flaws in the performance, the mere act of seeing the cast of High School Musical, a movie that has made such an impact on my life, in the same hour of programming as John Stamos, Beyonce and Ariana Grande… it made me happier and yet sadder than ever.
Is there some moral to be found in my post-midnight viewing of a poorly-made piece of Disney propaganda? Is there really value in the piece, or was I simply a tired and emotional wreck? I cannot answer the latter with any certainty, although I can be emotional at the worst times, yet the former has an obvious answer: the cure to the boredom and sadness we find in quarantine can be as simple as one word — nostalgia.
Whatever you once loved, rediscover it. Watch those old episodes of Scooby-Doo and find comfort in knowing for the moment that the monsters under your bed — and in the Oval Office — aren’t going to get you. Rewatch Grey’s Anatomy and relish in the fact that if the residents of Seattle Grace hospital can survive all of the spoiler-filled things they encounter, we can make it through this. Find that old episode of Johnny Test, Fish Hooks, heck, even Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and find comfort in simplicity.
The world isn’t great right now; in fact, it sometimes feels like things will never be better again. And while watching comfort television may not make the pain and suffering go away, it’s quite possibly the closest thing to a cure that we have right now.
We’re all in this together. And our TVs are there to get us through the fear of the unknown, the limited human contact and the “Whole New World” in which we live.