For a sweet 44-minutes, Hilary Duff and the gang came together to give us that familiar flick of Lizzie McGuire magic we believe in, and to talk about bras. Yes, bras.
While we have to wait for crumbs of development on the much talked about, but now stalled revival of the pop culture cornerstone for a generation of girls (and boys!) at the turn of the new millennium, the cast of the beloved hit teen TV show, Lizzie McGuire reunited, at a safe, virtual distance, of course, for what seems to be a popular trend lately, a table read. “There’s no better way to cure boredom and to provide a little bit of entertainment for everyone stuck at home,” says Hilary Duff, beaming with radiance from the screen, which not only made things considerably brighter and warmer than it already is, what with all the fuzzies of nostalgia from what some of us now call the good ‘ol years.
In an valiant effort hatched by the entertainingly scheming ways of her reel-brother, Jake Thomas (Matt McGuire) rounded up the gang from fellow Filipina, Lalaine (Miranda), Adam Lamberg (Gordo), Hallie Todd (Jo McGuire), Robert Carradine (Sam McGuire), Davida Williams (Claire), Ashlie Brillault (Kate), Kyle Downs (Larry Tudgeman, but for this effort, David Carradine), to writers Nina and Jeremy Bargiel, former writer (and father of Jake), Bob Thomas, who narrated during the table read, as well as animated, hand-drawn Lizzie to hunker down and relive what is considered as one of the best episode of its two season, 65-episode run—Between A Rock And A Bra Place.
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“It was sort of a thing where it was like: could we do this? Is this a thing? Like, could we write about bras on the Disney Channel? The feedback we got was well, maybe, but you gotta put a boy voice to it, like something big and active,” recalls Nina Bargiel of the genesis of this particularly resonant episode, which aired 19 years ago today. “That story came together, but the network raised eyebrows…It was something they thought would go away, which was a wrong approach you know, for us,” explains her brother, Jeremy. With provisions such as only mentioning the word a handful of times, there were no actual bras explicitly seen in the episode, except for a smooshed pile during the critical near-end.
7118 days later since then, here they are again, taking on us a trip down memory lane in the 44-minute video, complete with a nowhere near perfect, but nonetheless magical breaking into their theme song, If You Believe. (You best believe we were singing along, too.) As if no time had gone by, the assembled cast got into character and began reading the script, relishing such iconic lines such as an exasperated, “A bra okay, I want a bra!” when Lizzie was being pressed by her mother why she and best friend, Miranda, wanted to go the mall so bad.
Prompted by what they presumed was a full ride to glorious adulthood, the girls decided it was time for them to grow up just like queen bees Claire and Kate and get themselves bras, thinking that was all there is to it. Clearly, misinformed with misplaced confidence, they quickly learn that not only were they way in on their heads, but that this was something they couldn’t and shouldn’t do alone. Besides, as far as we know, the journey of the bra is a rite of passage, a medium of coming-of-age if you will—meaning, guidance is an absolute must, especially in the jungle that is the lingerie section.
As cringe-inducing as this was for the uninformed, it was a necessary reminder that this awkward period in a girl’s life has to be talked about and represented in media, even for the perfection-obsessed Disney Channel. Navigating this period, as with all the misadventures and missteps of adolescence is tough, but hey, someone has to do it. In fact, this is where the endearing and enduring charm of Lizzie McGuire lies. By confronting pivotal moments like these, they were not only able to strike the conversation many would rather have in hushed tones, but they inarguably fostered a spirit of community with its viewers.
“It wasn’t until after the episodes aired and I got older that I really appreciated the writers and what you guys [did] to create such a span of relatability with the young girls, but also, just like you were saying before, Nina, where older girls wanted to watch the show because they have all gone through that before. It was so touching to so many people on so many different levels, and I don’t think it wasn’t until later that I appreciated that about the show,” reminisces Hilary Duff in a post-reading discussion. “We got to just have so much fun, but there was that part inside of me that it was weird…like, it’s new that I’m wearing a bra and that now, you know, I’m acting out this scene that was very close proximity to my real life.” Lalaine concurs, sharing her own formative insight on what they had just created. “It was awkward for a second, because it was that age where we were developing, but it was only for a second that it was awkward, and like, it was almost as if as once that episode was done, it wasn’t a thought, because we were experiencing it together.”
The overarching story of the episode ultimately taught us then, which we are now being reminded of in a surge of retrospective memory to enjoy the steady pace of life instead of just rushing into things just because people hit a certain stride in their own timelines.
“We’re not adults,” says Lizzie McGuire to her mother.
“Not even close,” Miranda agrees.
“That temper tantrum I threw in the dressing room? Not exactly adult material,” she admits. “I guess sometimes, the most adult thing to do is to just ask for help.”
And all it took was a bra for us to realize that.