6 life lessons I learned from ‘That’s So Raven’

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the airing of the final episode of That’s So Raven. One of the first and definitely the best Disney Channel sitcoms, Raven-Symone (The Cosby Show, The View) starred as an extremely confident but bumbling psychic teenager living in San Francisco. Sure, it was just a silly sitcom, but I got a lot out of it — and that stuff just sticks to a person. 

1. Don’t do things you don’t want to do because you think you might eventually like them because you probably never will.

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Okay, that sounds filthy, but listen. I discovered Raven after watching a terrifying avant garde horror movie called Tideland. Jeff Bridges plays a rotting corpse and his young daughter doesn’t understand that he’s dead. It’s terrible, it’s gross, and I turned it off for a second. Looking for something to clear my head and restore my spirit, I discovered That’s So Raven on the Disney Channel. Raven-Symone had such screen presence and natural comic ability, a modern-day Lucille Ball with a little Carol Burnett thrown in. I didn’t go back to Tideland. I watched like three episodes of That’s So Raven instead. I still haven’t watched a horror movie — because they make me uncomfortable and upset. Comedy, however, is the greatest thing in the world and I’m going to stick with that.

2. Favor friends before lovers (at least when you’re young).

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The show’s core was the trio of Raven and her friends Chelsea and Eddie. This is leading by example: When you’re a teenager or in your 20s, focus on friends, not crushes. Okay, Raven was often thirsty for some dude (that guy Devon, usually), but her friends always took priority and precedence. Your high school crushes and romances will inevitably be over quickly; friendships stay with you for life.

3. Process information before you act.

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Raven makes the same mistakes in almost every episode of That’s So Raven. She gets one of her psychic visions, immediately thinks she knows what’s going to happen, and then springs into action to stop it. (Say, she sees her two best friends kissing, or thinks some guy is going to propose.) Of course, it’s just sitcom hijinks: Raven blows a random detail out of proportion, or she’s just a victim of her own woefully incomplete visions. Be a confident person of action like Raven, sure, but it’s always a good idea to vet your theories and gather more information before you decide how to proceed.

4. Find your people.

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Raven has psychic abilities, albeit minor ones, and ones she always misinterprets or uses incorrectly. That’s still a superpower, and something that is going to make a person feel different and isolated. But there’s that one episode where Raven gets together with a secret club of secret psychics. She thought she was alone, but she wasn’t alone — Raven found her tribe. Somewhere, somehow, there are people out there like you, and where you belong. (For me, it’s obviously people who read articles about That’s So Raven.) 

5. Being fat isn’t funny, but fat suits are.

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That’s So Raven is a classical sitcom in that its plots are a bit formulaic: Raven gets a psychic vision and has to act quickly to prevent events she assumes are going to happen from happening. It often involves some high-concept physical comedy, like when Raven pretends to be her own mother to go to a dreaded parent-teacher conference. Raven dons an unnecessary fat suit and large coat. Why did you do that Raven? There are easier, more realistic-looking things you can do to disguise yourself! Why did she do this? Because while actually being overweight isn’t funny or even notable, a person in a fat suit definitely is.

6. Be resourceful.

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Remember when Raven found herself working the very busy concession stand at a movie theater for some reason? There’s way too much popcorn butter in play, and Raven, thinking fast, collects it in her boot. It is a butter boot. Should you ever be in a too-much-liquid kind of situation, butter related or not, this is a thing you can do and save the day like Raven.

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