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The Essence of Disney Channel

I will admit that it truly bothers me that I cannot remember when I first started watching Hannah Montana. I can at least remember that I was definitely watching it regularly by June 2007 (that is, the end of the 2006–2007 school year), and I also have a very vague memory that, when I first began watching the show, the season 2 episodes were all very new, so I suppose that April or May 2007 might be the best date range I can give. I do know for a fact, though, that even though I did occasionally watch Disney Channel during 2006, I did not watch the premiere of Hannah Montana in March 2006, and I actually didn't start watching the show until many months (and probably even a year or more) after it first started airing.

I was somewhat late, perhaps, but very soon after I began watching it, I was hooked. Before I started regularly watching Hannah Montana, I had a somewhat strange relationship with Disney Channel: from 2003/2004 to 2006/early 2007, I watched it only occasionally, as I saw it as a backup channel, to be switched to only if both Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon (both of which I've been watching regularly for as long as I can remember) were not showing anything of interest; prior to 2003/2004, I watched only the channel's Playhouse Disney block, and did not care at all about the other programming they aired. Hannah Montana managed to change my attitude towards Disney Channel: when I got hooked on it, I also got hooked on the rest of Disney Channel, which in my mind I then elevated to the same status as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

For me—and many others, too—Hannah Montana will forever be the show of late 2000s, Ribbon Era (2007–2010) Disney Channel. Of course, I also regularly watched and truly enjoyed Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and The Suite Life on Deck, as well as many of the other shows that aired during the Ribbon Era and Rounded Square Era (2010–2014), but, for me, Hannah Montana always stood above the others; it is the show which got me watching Disney Channel regularly.

Watching the series finale in January 2011 was utterly surreal. Hannah Montana began as a show, but it soon became an enormous franchise, and there was a time when I—and, I think, many other fans of the show—thought that it would never end; I never imagined back then that the Hannah Montana train would ever stop. Even today, I cannot imagine Disney Channel without Hannah Montana, as I formed my strongest impression of the channel during the Ribbon Era, which was entirely contained within the show's original run. When the show ended and the reruns stopped later on in 2011, I still continued to regularly watch Disney Channel for two more years, but the channel in those two years felt fundamentally off in some way; I did not feel the same way when, for example, Wizards of Waverly Place or The Suite Life on Deck ended, though I was still very saddened. It was like Hannah Montana was a part of the very essence of Disney Channel, and not merely another series that happened to run on it.

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This page last modified on 3 May 2021.