SynopsisThe series centers on the Duncan family, who are still adjusting to the "surprise" birth of their fourth child, Charlotte "Charlie" Duncan. When parents Amy (Leigh-Allyn Baker), a nurse, and Bob (Eric Allan Kramer), an exterminator, return to work, they ask their three older children - teenagers PJ (Jason Dolley) and Teddy (Bridgit Mendler), and ten-year-old Gabe (Bradley Steven Perry) - for help raising their little sister. At the same time, Teddy, PJ, and Gabe try to deal with school and typical social challenges.
The events of each episode become material for a video diary Teddy is making for her younger sister. Teddy hopes the videos will provide useful advice for Charlie after they have both grown up and Teddy has moved out. The series begins when Charlie is nine months old.
Cast and Characters
- Bridget Mendler as Teddy Duncan.
- Jason Dolley as PJ Duncan.
- Bradley Steven Perry as Gabe Duncan.
- Mia Talerico as Charlie Duncan.
- Leigh-Allyn Baker as Amy Duncan.
- Eric Allan Kramer as Bob Duncan.
- Logan Moreau as Toby Duncan.
- Raven Goodwin as Ivy Wentz
- Micah Williams as Emmett Heglin
- Shane Harper as Spencer Walsh
- Patricia Belcher as Estelle Dabney.
- Ellia English as Mary Lou Wentz
- Samantha Boscarino as Skyler
- Luke Benward as Beau Landry
- Cyrina Fiallo as Vonnie
- Tucker Albrizzi as Jake
According to former senior vice president of original programming for Disney Adam Bonnet, "A lot of the high-concept shows have kids in an extraordinary situation where the parent or adult takes a backseat, and sometimes the adult isn't as smart as the kid, or it's all about the kids putting one over on the adults. But we have a new show called "Good Luck Charlie" that has a very different kind of concept. It is very grounded, very relatable, and it's not about the parents being dumber than the kids. We try and mine as much comedy out of the parents as possible, but it doesn't mean the kids can't learn from the parents and get guidance from the parents.". Good Luck Charlie was created by Drew Vaupen and Phil Baker, who have been writing together since 1993 on shows ranging from Suddenly Susan to Sonny With a Chance The pair aspired to create a program that would appeal to entire families rather than simply kids. Inspired by the success of reruns of shows such as Full House and George Lopez with young audiences, Vaupen and Baker turned to family sitcoms. "We wanted to do a show about a family, to bring back a family sitcom and make it about a real family, not wizards, nobody's a pop star, nobody has a TV show," said Vaupen.
Good Luck Charlie's centric family, the Duncans from Denver, was carefully crafted for broad appeal. While the series is still told primarily through the viewpoint of the Duncan children, the children's parents, Amy and Bob, are less on the periphery and writers attempt to add scenes that adult viewers can relate to. For example, in one scene in the pilot episode, Amy confesses to Bob that she is overwhelmed with becoming a working new mother again. "She's not sure she can pull this off," says Bonnet. "And just playing that scene the way we did, a very real scene between husband and wife, kind of makes this show different. The writers also try to include jokes for adult viewers while remaining chaste enough for their young target audience. Unlike some previous Disney Channel series like Sonny with a Chance, Hannah Montana, or Cory in the House, both parents are present in the Duncan family. "It felt like the right time to have a show with two parents, to debunk the myth that Disney never has the mom in the picture," says Adam Bonnet, Senior Vice President of original programming for Disney Channel. "Because it is a myth." Because a series about rich and famous people might alienate viewers in a troubled economy, the Duncans were made middle-class. According to Gary Marsh, Entertainment President of Disney Channel Worldwide, "We want[ed] to do is acknowledge the reality of the times in which we live, where two parents work, where kids are expected to help out around the house in meaningful ways. Real-life issues happen. Everyone isn't living The Life of Riley all the time."
Broadening Disney Channel's appeal was also a concern while choosing the character's names and the show's title. "You want a title that says, a) this is a sitcom and, b) this is something that will interest the main demographic, but also we're trying to expand the Disney brand beyond just girls," Vaupen commented. The series' title was originally "Love, Teddy", the phrase Teddy had used to end her video diary entries during development. However, "Love, Teddy" feels immediately feminized and almost excludes boys," Vaupen said. "We also didn't want to have the word 'baby' in the title because that would exclude certain people." The Duncan baby was originally named "Daisy" during the development, but executives thought "Charlie", usually a boy's name, might attract more boys. In addition, the family's surname changed from "Holiday" to "Duncan" and the elder brother's name changed from "Casey" to "PJ".
Because Good Luck Charlie is low concept and character-driven, "the actors not only had to carry the show, they also had to have 'pitch-perfect' chemistry with each other to make the family dynamic believable." Bonnet says Disney Channel executives "just fell in love with" Bridgit Mendler, who stars as the series' protagonist, sixteen-year-old Teddy Duncan. "She has all the attributes of a Disney star," said Bonnet. Mendler first heard about Good Luck Charlie in late November 2008. After several rounds of auditions and cast reads, she secured the part in January 2009. Both Mendler and Jason Dolley, who plays Teddy's older brother PJ, have starred in previous Disney Channel series; Mendler had a recurring role on Wizards of Waverly Place while Dolley starred in Cory in the House and several Disney Channel television movies. Variety magazine's Brian Lowry says their careers "[reflect] the Disney Channel's knack for identifying young performers and rolling them from one project to the next, in a fashion reminiscent of the old studio system. "Eric Allan Kramer, who plays Bob Duncan, has previously guest starred in two Disney Channel series. Leigh-Allyn Baker, who plays Amy Duncan, has also guest starred on other Disney Channel shows. Baker says Disney had been "courting [her] for a while to play a mom", but she had always felt too young. "I kind of feel like hey, you know what? When I'm done with this stint, I'll actually be the age everyone thinks I am to be able to play the part." Baker, a new mother herself, was nine months pregnant when she auditioned for the role. Like most series involving baby actors, producers of Good Luck Charlie had originally searched for twins to play Charlie Duncan, the titular character and the Duncan's new baby. Hiring two babies would allow for longer work days without violating child labor laws as well as the ability to substitute one child for the other if one was unavailable. However, the show makers were unsuccessful in finding an appropriate set of twins and decided to cast Mia Talerico. Marsh says hiring Talerico, who was ten months old when she was cast, was their biggest risk while creating the show: "It's like flying without a net. She may have a bad day and we can't shoot and it'll cost us tens of thousands of dollars. But so far, so good. She's the most obedient actor I've ever worked with."
The series' premiere earned mixed reviews. Robert Lloyd of The Los Angeles Times described it as a "professional sitcom from sitcom professionals" with efficient jokes and typical sitcom characters, and situations which are "willfully arranged". However, Lloyd praised the series for offering a "contextually novel picture of a teenage girl taking care of her baby sister with a persuasive nonchalance and practical ease that transcends the strenuous comedy that surrounds it." Neal Justin of the Star Tribune said the "slapstick-heavy, laugh-track fueled sitcom" had no redeeming qualities other than "keeping your 11-year-old sedated for a half hour". Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Good Luck Charlie would appeal to kids, but not adults. "Parents have seen the same sort of show done before and better in ABC's 1980s-era TGIF lineup," wrote Owen. Contrarily, Brian Lowry of Variety magazine said Good Luck Charlie was "a surprisingly refreshing throwback to ABC's "TGIF"-style sitcoms" He commented that while the series did not "push sitcom boundaries", it was "sprightly" and "pleasantly handled".
The series premiered to 4.6 million viewers, making it the highest-rated series premiere for a Disney Channel Original Series since The Suite Life on Deck in 2008, and the week's highest-rated cable program.
Although a Soundtrack for the show was not released, several songs were produced for the show.
- "Hang in There Baby", performed by Bridgit Mendler, was written by Aris Archontis, Jeannie Lurie and Chen Neeman. The premiere was on Radio Disney in March 26, 2010. It was included in the Walt Disney compilation Make Your Mark: Ultimate Playlist, in 2012
- "One Step Closer", performed by Shane Harper, is featured in the episode "Battle of the Bands" as the song that Spencer performs in a Battle of the Bands contest that Teddy, Skyler, PJ, and Emmett also compete in. The song can be found on Harper's self-titled album.
- "I'm Gonna Run To You", performed by Mendler, was and featured in the movie Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas!. It was written by Mendler and Jamie Houston and produced by Houston. The song was released as a promotional single on November 18, 2011. The official music video premiered on Disney Channel on December 2, 2011. It was directed by Arlene Sanford.
- "You're Something Beautiful", performed by Mendler, was featured in the 1-hour special episode, "Special Delivery". The song has not been released in any form.
- "My Song For You", performed by Mendler and Harper, was featured in the Season 3 Christmas episode "A Duncan Christmas". The song included in the Christmas compilation Holiday Playlist, in 2012. "My Song for You" peaked at number two on Billboard Kid Digital Songs and three on Holiday Songs
- "Your Song", originally by Elton John, was covered by Mendler and Harper to Season 4 episode "Good Bye Charlie". The song has not been released in any form.