Disney’s new streaming service “Disney+” is still rolling out new original programming, and one of the newest ones for this year is Diary of a Future President. The series is a comedy following 12-year-old Elena Cañero-Reed (Tess Romero) as she navigates middle school and works to someday be president of the United States. As seen from Disney+'s last attempt at a sitcom aimed at children, it was only a matter of time before we came across something “progressive.” In this case, it’s reminding people that climate change will destroy the world.
Although Elena eventually does become president, as seen in the pilot, the January 31 episode “Disaster Relief” has her struggling to find her “raison d'être,” or her reason for being. Since everyone else at school seems to have found their own thing, she’s desperate to become good at something. Sure enough, an opportunity arises in her science class. All this comes courtesy of her very butch, fear-mongering science teacher Ms. Gregory (Jen Kober) who reminds kids that “to say the end of the world is near is optimistic.”
Ms. Gregory: Before we start talking about the cataclysmic demise of this planet, I’m looking for a Hurricane Watch Captain. This lucky student will track storms with me, and we’ll collect non-perishable items in the event of a hurricane.
Elena: Sasha, this is it. My raison. It’s calling out for me to pluck it from the trail mix of life.
Sasha: Hurricanes are your reason for being?
Ms. Gregory: And hurricanes will only increase in the coming year and for many years to come. So, hey, you’ll be busy. Any takers?
Elena: Me. I will serve as Orange Bay Middle’s Hurricane Watch Captain.
Ms. Gregory: Wow, I really thought it was gonna go unfilled like it has for the past two years. Okay, great. Well, the position comes with this captain’s hat.
Ryan: Wait, free hat? I wanna be captain.
Ms. Gregory: Two takers? God, I’ve got to tell my therapist about this. This is unprecedented. The job’s not big enough for two people. Hmm. We’ll have a stump speech. Tomorrow, at the xylophone assembly, you’ll each convince the school why you should be Hurricane Watch Captain.
Elena: I promise to give a speech that will make students as passionate about hurricanes as I am.
Ryan: Okay, I’ll talk in front of people.
Ms. Gregory: Okay, great. To say the end of the world is near is optimistic.
Elena: No one was going keep me from my raison. Especially not Ryan.
The only thing comedic about this scene is how often these world-ending prophecies are wrong. Even the show proves this doomsday attitude wrong since it literally gave us an image of Elena as a fully functioning adult in a perfectly stable world decades later. Of course, being wrong never stopped the media claiming we’re somehow months away from destruction before, and it’s not starting now.
What’s worse is that this is specifically aimed at a young audience. Considering climate change activists seem to now take cues from children, it’s not a big surprise they're the targets, but it’s still just as disheartening. I can’t think of a single thing that prepares kids less for the future than screaming at them that we’re all going to die. And they wonder why we don’t take them seriously.
Diary of a Future President isn’t the groan-inducing mess that High School Musical: The Musical: The Series ended up being, but it’s skirting dangerously close to the same path. If this is what passes as original material for Disney+, 2020 is not looking much better. All it has is a better title.