Remember when the only problems in life involved getting out of school and having your homework done in time to watch Disney Channel’s shows and original movies? When Hannah Montana was living a double life, and Raven Baxter was seeing into the future? Disney Channel remembers. Ten years after That’s So Raven‘s final episode, Raven and Chelsea are back and ready for some good old fashioned shenanigans…with their children.
Raven-Symoné and Annelise van der Pol reprise their roles as Raven and Chelsea respectively, which is the number one strength Raven’s Home has going for it. It remains to be seen if other favorites from That’s So Raven will have guest appearances on the show (but it is likely,) so having the core two best friends from the original brings a sense of nostalgia. (Do a quick google search of Orlando Brown if you’d like to see why the actor who played Eddie wasn’t invited back.)
In the series premiere, Raven’s son, Booker (Isaac Ryan Brown) teams up with Chelsea’s son, Levi (Jason Maybaum,) and his neighbor Tess (Sky Katz) to convince his sister, Nia (Navia Robinson) of his new ability to see into the future. Meanwhile, Raven sees that a family disagreement is in the future and, in typical Raven fashion, decides to meddle in her kid’s school life. (Remember the That’s So Raven series premiere, when you went to a parent-teacher conference dressed as your mother to avoid having your mom meddle in your school life, Raven?!)
There’s enough humor in the show geared towards its older viewers, but Raven’s Home is primarily aimed at the new generation of Disney Channel watchers. The kids are a lot younger, and their situations (at times) mimic those we’d expect Raven to find herself in, but on a tamer level. It does a better job of making you want to watch That’s So Raven than the new show, at least if you’re a millennial.
Scenes with Raven and Chelsea are where the show shines, getting back to its roots and amping up the comedy. Chelsea is as dim-witted as ever, which makes for easy laughs that don’t feel as tired as some of the jokes made with the kids (namely, a groan-worthy fart joke.) Chelsea is still a beautiful balance of being the dumb one and the smartest person in the room, as she sets a toaster on fire in one scene, but is also the voice of reason when she jokes that Tess’s mom shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car after running into three mailboxes in another scene.
Speaking of Tess: why is the Cash Me Outside girl on Raven’s Home? The character of Tess has her moments, but judging from the premiere, she’s a one-note joke that is very quickly going to grow old. Tess is the archetype ‘mean but lovable’ character, as she picks on Levi, but also has his back. As for actual school-ground nemeses, Raven’s Home has yet to find its Alana. (‘Member her?!)
Raven’s children are both halves of her personality: Nia is Raven’s feminist, girl power half that is independent and outspoken. Booker is childish and attention-seeking, but oh, so lovable. When it comes to mother Raven, though, what happened?! Raven’s Home better explore what happened to her since graduating high school. The show opens with brief explanations that she and Chelsea both had marriages that went south, but little else is said – other than that Chelsea’s husband cheated on her and was arrested for tax fraud.
What happened to Raven’s fashion career? It’s likely that if you asked viewers of That’s So Raven when it aired where Raven would be in ten years, they wouldn’t say she was a struggling single mother sharing an apartment with her best friend and their three children in Chicago. I’d be more likely to believe that Raven was some fashion designer with a couture line and Chelsea was the one who worked as her assistant and housekeeper, as convoluted as that sounds. The show’s only explanation for what changed about Raven’s plans for the future is “Had my vision all worked out, but then life had other plans.” Considering this is in the theme song, there’s at least a sliver of hope that Raven’s previous plans for life will be touched on in the new series.
After meddling in her kid’s school life in a hilarious scene involving Raven twerking tennis balls off her booty (I kid you not,) Raven finds herself suspended from her kid’s school for three weeks. On the bright side, Nia ends up believing Booker that he’s psychic, and the two admit their love for each other. Just like on That’s So Raven, the visions seemed to cause more harm than good, but old fashioned love for one another fixed everything in the end.
Raven’s Home does a good job at bringing about nostalgia for the old show starring Raven and friends, but it also does a good job introducing the new characters that will carry the series forward. Nonetheless, its strengths remain in the hands of the veterans, and hopefully future guest star appearances will continue to make the show even better. Raven’s Home may appeal to today’s generation, but the millennials who grew up wishing they went to Bayside High with Raven and Chelsea will find the show is at its best when it focuses on the characters they already know and love.