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Series / Sydney to the Max

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"The more things change, the more they stay the same".

Like father, like daughter, we don't always agree,
But looking at you is like looking at me,
The more things change,
The more they stay the same!
Like father, like daughter, from different times,
Taking all the best, from your decade and mine,
The more things change,
The more they stay the same!
The more they stay the same!
Opening theme, performed by Ruth Righi and Dan Conklin

Sydney to the Max is a Disney Channel Kid Com created by Mark Reisman, starring Ruth Righi and Ian Reed Kesler.

Set in the present day with flashbacks to 1992, the comedy revolves around middle schooler Sydney Reynolds who lives with her single dad Max in the house he grew up in, along with her progressive grandmother Judy - three generations under one roof.

Sydney navigates life in middle school along with her best friend Olive, often getting into comical situations. Max tries his best to understand and support her. Sydney's present-day antics mirror the situations 12-year old Max got himself into in 1992.

The series premiered on January 25th, 2019. It was renewed for a second season on May 23, 2019 which began with a Christmas episode on December 13, 2019, followed by the rest of the season starting March 23, 2020. A third season was commissioned on November 21, 2019 and started airing on March 19, 2021, eventually ending on November 26, 2021. Ruth Righi confirmed on January 1, 2022, that the show was cancelled and will not be returning for a fourth season, possibly due to moving on to focus on her role in the new Disney Junior show Eureka!.

Sydney to the Max contains examples of:

  • The '90s: The decade in which Max grew up in. The series often features flashbacks to the 1990s.
  • Absent Animal Companion: The end of "Who Let the Dogs In" has Sydney find Max's old pet turtle, Hawk, hiding in the walls, and he allows her to keep him. However, Hawk hasn't appeared since that episode.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In one episode, Grandma Judy tells Sydney that someone she knows thinks all cats are witches, supposing that he watches too much television. Her actress Caroline Rhea starred on Sabrina the Teenage Witch with a cat who once was a witch.
    • In the Halloween Episode, she is not only dressed as a witch but jokes that she wishes she had a talking cat. When Max says cats don't talk, she says "They do in my world".
  • An Aesop: Every episode has one, relating to the problem Sydney has throughout.
  • Age Cut: Sometimes used on Max when the episode transitions to (and sometimes from) the flashbacks, combined with Match Cut.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: In "The Hunt for the Rad October", Sydney changes her mind about giving up trick-or-treating when a girl dressed as a strawberry gives her this mention:
    Strawberry Girl: Thanks. I don't care what anyone says, Halloween's the best.
  • Ascended Extra: A younger version of Sydney's late mother becomes a recurring character in Season 3 as part of the overarching arc where Max slowly gains the confidence to confess his love for her.
  • Baby Talk: Maggie, the woman Max dates in "Can't Hardly Date", is a huge offender of this trope.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • "As Bad as She Gets" is set on Max's birthday.
    • "Going the Green Mile" for Emmy.
    • "Thirteen Candles" switches between Sydney and Maxs 13th birthday.
    • "The Bat Mitzvah Planner" for Olive and Leo.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Shows up frequently.
    • "Night Not at the Museum": Sydney chooses to accept her punishment, meaning she misses the Pop-Up Cake Museum and won't be able to see it again for probably a long time, but she's on better terms with Max.
    • "Baby One More Rhyme": Sydney's song doesn't get picked, but Ricky says her song is only suitable for her, which inspires her to be a singer and songwriter.
  • Bottle Episode: The A-plot of "I Know What You Did Last Sleepover" takes place completely inside the Reynolds house.
  • Break the Haughty: Sydney has one hit her in "Night Not at the Museum" when she hears Max's voicemails and realizes he really does care about her, thus she gives up and accepts her punishment, meaning she misses the Pop-Up Cake Museum.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In the 90s subplot of Season 3, Max finds confessing his feelings to Alisha totally difficult. One time he tried IM-ing his feelings to her over the computer, but he accidentally tells another random boy who had a Friendless Background, and makes him his best friend.
  • The Chessmaster: Sophia's mother is this toward Max as well as a Control Freak. She manipulates Max into supporting the phone ban when she brings up test scores dropping due to being distracted, and she's the reason why Sydney's attempts to get out of missing the Pop-Up Cake Museum fail.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The Season 2 finale "Thirteen Candles" reveals that Max and Alisha, Leo's cousin, met at his 13th birthday. Their friendship continues in Season 3, when Alisha (and her parents) move in temporarily with Leo and his family.
  • Christmas Episode: "How The Syd Stole Christmas" in Season 2.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Max accidentally drops underwear with his name written on it in the hallway at school.
  • Cool Old Lady: Sydney's grandmother, Judy, is said to be hip and progressive. Max often has to rely on her in order to better understand Sydney.
  • Control Freak: Sophia's mother Angela has this attitude, usually toward Max.
  • Cousin Oliver: In the middle of Season 3, Sydney's spunky 7-year-old cousin from Georgia, Lexi, moves in with the Reynolds for the summer.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Ruth Righi performs the theme song with Dan Conklin.
  • Downer Ending: At the end of Season 3s Boy Story, Sydney and Harry put a pause on their relationship when Sydney realizes that spending all her time with Harry is preventing him from making new friends.
  • Drop-In Character: Olive, who constantly spends time at Sydney's house because of the chaos her four brothers cause.
  • Ear-Piercing Plot: The episode "Never Been Pierced" deals with Sydney wanting to get her ears pierced like Sophia, but against Judy's wishes. She secretly gets them pierced while on an outing with Mrs. Harris, but when Judy decides to go along with it, Sydney freaks out and has the cashier pretend she's getting pierced for the first time so Judy doesn't suspect a thing. But then Mrs. Harris comes in and reveals Sydney already got pierced behind Judy's back, and Sydney was in for it.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Sydney's hair changes partway into Season 3, having ditched her straight hair for a crimpy African bun to get more in touch with her Black side and wearing it naturally.
  • Feud Episode:
    • "I Know What You Did Last Sleepover" for Sydney and Olive.
    • "My Best Friend's Ending" for Emmy and Sophia.
  • Final Season Casting: Sydney's cousin Lexi from Georgia was introduced in the final episodes of the final season.
  • First Period Panic: In Season 2, Sydney drops out of a concert because shes afraid of having an accident and revealing to the rest of the school that she got her period. Fortunately she reconsiders when she finds out one of her friends has been hiding her period because of her embarrassment and she realizes its nothing to be embarrassed about.
  • Flash Back: The series features flashbacks to the '90s, when Max was a kid.
  • Flash Back Echo: The show's flashbacks with Max parallel what's happening with Sydney in the present. For example, in "Can't Dye This", Sydney tries to rebel against Max and dye her hair, while in the flashback, Max tries to rebel against his mom and bleach his hair so he can join a skateboarding gang.
  • Foregone Conclusion: In the 90s subplot, Max has to confess his feelings for Alisha and the two have to become a couple at some point later in the series, given that Sydney exists in the present day.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Sydney is the Team Mom, Olive is the smart but brash one, Emmy is The Ditz, and Sophia is the tomboy.
  • Good-Times Montage: One occurs in "Who Let The Dogs In" as young Max spends time with his pet turtle Hawk.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In "As Bad as She Gets", Leo considers moving back to Portland and setting up an office there, but his son LJ doesn't want to move as he will miss his friends back home. So Sydney and LJ steal bikes from the store to make them appear as bad influences in an attempt to cancel the move. Their plan works too well - not only does Leo call off the move, it nearly destroys his and Max's friendship.
  • Green Aesop: The main lesson of "Going the Green Mile".
  • Happy Birthday to You!: In "Thirteen Candles", the young Alisha sings this at Max's thirteenth birthday.
  • Half-Arc Season: The 90s subplots in Season 3 have a more serialized plot line which showed how Max fell in love with Alisha and slowly gained the confidence to confess his feelings for her.
  • Hypocrite: In the first episode Judy called Max unreasonable for not letting Sydney dye her hair. The flashbacks show Judy not letting Max dye his hair when he was Sydney's age.
  • Like Father, Like Daughter: The main point of the series revolves around this trope, as it's meant to highlight just how similar Max's daughter is to him.
  • Local Hangout: Reynolds Rides, the bike shop Max works at.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title is a pun on a '90s movie or song.
  • Informed Judaism: Olive was said to celebrate Hanukkah in the Christmas Episode, making her Jewish. Further revealed in "The Bat Mitzvah Planner".
  • Invisible Parents: Olive's parents have yet to make appearances, aside from mentions. Same goes for Leo. Olive's mom appears in the episode "Rock the float".
  • Meaningful Rename: Sydney's friendship circle was originally called the "Dream Team", but to Emmy's request, she renames them the "Four Amigas" so it sounds better.
  • Missing Mom: Sydney's mother Alisha passed away five years prior to the show.
  • Multinational Team: Sydney (half-Black), Olive (Jewish), Emmy (half-Latina) and Sophia (American).
  • My Hair Came Out Green: In "Can't Dye This", Sydney tries to dye her hair and it comes out rainbow-colored. In the episode's flashback, Max tries to bleach his hair and it comes out red.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted with extreme prejudice in the episode "Girlz II Women", which is about Sydney having her first period, making it the second Disney show to so much as mention the topic since Best Friends Whenever. What makes this so unprecedented is how this episode marks the first time periods are discussed in detail as opposed to a passing mention, and ends with a life lesson on how Sydney shouldn't be ashamed of it.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: In "Can't Dye This", Max accidentally kisses a student instead of Sydney. Olive keeps reminding him of it by sending him GIFs of the incident.
  • Playing Sick: In "Caved and Confused", Judy pretends Sydney is sick so she can cover for her as she watches Hot Shot Chef with Max.
  • Plot Hole: Sydney says in "Can't Hardly Date" it has been five years since her mother died, but the flashback to the last Christmas with her in the Christmas Episode and "Thirteen Candles" say she died four years ago, which could be impossible as she should already be dead by this time.
  • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: Being a series that involves flashbacks to the '90s, there's a good amount of '90s references in the episode titles:
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: According to the wiki site for the show, Sydney was intended to be a skateboarder like her father was when he was her age. However, this changed when the writers realized Ruth Righi (Sydney's actress) could play the bass guitar and couldn't ride on a skateboard.
  • The Reveal: The season 2 finale reveals Leo and Alisha are actually cousins meaning Leo and Max are actually cousins in law
  • Shipper on Deck: Olive, Emmy and Sofia to Sydney and Harry. Also Judy to Max and Alisha in the past.
  • Shout-Out: Multiple:
  • Sick Episode: "Little Shop of Reynolds" deals with Max catching the flu right before he is to host a sale at Reynolds Rides.
  • Slumber Party: "I Know What You Did Last Sleepover" has Olive stay over at the Reynolds' house for a week while her parents are away. It quickly falls apart when both Sydney and Olive discover each others' odd differences in their family.
  • Spit Shake: Max and Leo do this after making a pact to remain best friends no matter what their futures may hold.
  • Strictly Formula: Every episode follows a similar plot: Sydney wants to do something but Max declines, but she proceeds to do so anyway behind his back. Flashbacks to Maxs childhood in 1992 show he had the same situations as Sydney did with similar results. When Max out Sydney disobeyed, he explains about the same problem from his childhood and the two make up with each other.
  • Take Our Word for It: Every time the characters watch TV, we never actually see what they're watching. Examples would be the Doll of Death movie in "Adventures in Babe-Sitting", and the Hot Shot Chef show and Ricky Angelo musical Doo Wop Days in "Caved and Confused". A non-TV example would be the Sixteen Oranges concert in "The Parent Track".
  • Talking in Your Sleep: One of Olive's bad habits. Sydney does not take this okay.
  • Team Hand-Stack: The Four Amigas have one together whenever they agree on something or vow to do things right.
  • Time to Move: In "As Bad As She Gets", Max gets a visit from the adult Leo who announces hes moving back to Portland to be with his friend more. However, Leo's son LJ doesn't want to move and enlists Sydney and Olive in sabotaging the plans; unfortunately, the results are too good.
  • Tiny Schoolboy: Max is noticeably shorter than his 8th grade classmates at the start of Season 3.
  • Very Special Episode: To date, these have occurred Once a Season.
    • "You've Got Female" is one about women's rights.
    • "Girlz II Women" centers around the women's menstrual cycle and the consequences of such.
    • "Do the Write Thing" focuses on microaggressions.
  • Wham Line: "Growing up we almost lost the house a few times, I didn't tell you because a kid shouldn't have to worry about that." Suddenly all the times it seemed like Judy was being unfair made sense.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Leo has yet to appear as an adult in present day, but where he is now remains to be seen.
    • In "As Bad As She Gets," its revealed that Leo runs a tech company, lives in San Francisco, and has a son around Sydney's age.
  • You Are Grounded!:
    • In the first episode, Max tells Sydney she's grounded after catching her dying her hair behind his back.
    • The plot of "Night Not at the Museum" revolves around Sydney being grounded by Max for missing one too many curfews, leaving her unable to go to the Pop-Up Cake Museum which is for one night only.


Video Example(s):


Find My Own Way

Sydney performs her song for Ricky Angelo showing how far she's come and longs to find who she truly is.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / IAmBecomingSong

Media sources: