Why We Still Love “Lizzie McGuire” Even Though It Aired 20 Years Ago

Shows like “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” and “The Office” are beloved by many generations, but it’s easy to forget how rare it is for a show to remain popular years after it ends. While maybe it hasn’t reached the echelon of “classic,” there is one show that has remained quite popular and beloved – “Lizzie McGuire.”

By Meghan Dillon3 min read
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Starring Hilary Duff as a teenage girl named Lizzie, it was one of the Disney Channel’s most popular shows of the early 2000s and is still loved by fans today. Its lasting popularity can be linked to 2000s nostalgia, how wholesome the show is, and how relatable Lizzie was as a protagonist.

2000s Nostalgia Is So Hot Right Now

We all know that Millennials are crazy nostalgic about the ‘90s and 2000s, so much so that it’s popular for brands and media companies (*cough* every reboot ever) to take advantage of it. Instagram accounts like @doyoulovethe2000s have hundreds of thousands of followers, and TikTok stars like Kate Steinberg (@itskatesteinberg) and Erin Miller (@overthemoonfaraway) have both gained over a million followers by posting hilarious yet nostalgic content for Millennials. Much of Olivia Rodrigo’s popularity among Millennial fans is because her style (in both fashion and music) echoes some of our favorite trends of the early 2000s.

Very few shows capture the essence of the early 2000s like Lizzie McGuire, and it’s why we still love it nearly two decades after the last episode aired. It’s comforting and brings us back to simpler times.

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Lizzie McGuire Represents the Wholesomeness of the Era

Lizzie McGuire follows Lizzie and her best friends Miranda and Gordo as they navigate their early teen years in seventh and eighth grade. The best part of this show is that the characters act like real teenagers of that era. We watch them navigate stress from school, siblings, crushes, bullies, and the desire to want to be independent as a teenager. 

It was one of the most wholesome shows of its time (and possibly of all-time), even including Lizzie’s relationship with her parents. While Lizzie is a normal teenager and occasionally rebels against her parents, the show does a great job showing the guilt she feels when she does so (there was nothing quite as terrifying as hearing your parents say “I’m not mad, just disappointed” as a teenager) and she has a great relationship with both of her parents.

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Many of us noticed this while rewatching the show as adults. Kelsie Gibson of PopSugar writes, “While Lizzie's parents seemed dorky and overbearing when I was younger, I realize now how smart and caring they actually are. They are constantly thinking of ways to teach their kids valuable lessons by using reverse psychology and always have the best advice. Not gonna lie, I cried over quite a few episodes as I rewatched the series with my own mom. At the end of the day, all Lizzie's parents want is to be close to their kids and help them with life's biggest struggles. Who doesn't want parents like that?”

Lizzie McGuire Accurately Demonstrated the Awkward Teen Years 

Unlike current teen shows like Euphoria, Lizzie acted her age and provided audiences with a character they could both relate to and see as a good role model. Nina Martin of A Collective Mind says it best. She writes, “I think one reason the show was popular then (and now, according to some reviews I read online) is that it dealt directly with real teen life. No superpowers or secret identities. Just a normal girl. Adolescence can really suck sometimes, especially when you have annoying family members, bullies at school, or a broken heart to deal with. These are just examples of some of Lizzie’s growing pains, things that I was experiencing at the same time in real life. The show also dealt with heavy topics that were often taboo at the time, like eating disorders and depression. In a lot of ways, Lizzie and I grew up together.”

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Lizzie’s authenticity included the awkward teenage phase. Though teenagers today are still awkward, the rise of social media and YouTube tutorials has made it easier for them (at least on this very superficial level) to access current fashion trends and learn how to do their hair and makeup. Like many of us Millennials, Lizzie didn’t have any of that, making her teenage years painfully awkward. This led to some hilarious moments (the episode where she wanted to buy her first bra but didn’t know how to look for one will forever remain iconic), and it helped with both her likability and relatability.

The best part about Lizzie was that she was played by Hilary Duff, who also saw herself in Lizzie. She told Bustle, “I was too young to do a character dive on Lizzie. I think I was just playing myself. And I really related to that girl. She was me, and I was her, and that was that.”

What’s interesting about Lizzie McGuire was that the show was very realistic, but the movie was completely over the top. What kind of school sends kids on a trip to Rome for eighth-grade graduation? How did a 14-year-old manage to impersonate a pop star in a foreign country without her chaperones noticing? And don’t get us started on Paolo. Everything about him was both sketchy and unrealistic.

lizzie mcguire hey now dreams

However, I think the movie worked because it played into every teenage girl’s desire for adventure. Any young girl (and most adult women) would kill to have a summer adventure in Rome, and the relatable Lizzie living out all of our American teenage dreams is what makes the movie so enjoyable. 

Closing Thoughts

Lizzie McGuire is not only one of the most iconic shows from the early 2000s but gave us one of the most relatable and wholesome characters of our generation. Though nostalgia plays a role in the show’s continued popularity, the character of Lizzie herself is what keeps us going back to watch it again and again.

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