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Series / Sydney to the Max

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

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 the 1990s, the comedy revolves around outgoing 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.

As Sydney's preteen pursuits begin to expand with unexpected and funny twists, Max tries to get a better sense of the guidance, perspective and support she needs. Grandma, full of both parental wisdom and wisecracks, has a razor-sharp memory that proves Max's own teenage antics parallel Sydney's. Flashback scenes to a young Max and his best friend Leo juxtapose the funny predicaments invented by Sydney and her vivacious friend Olive.


The series premiered on January 25th, 2019. It was renewed for a second season on May 23, 2019 and a third season on November 21, 2019. The second season began with a Christmas episode on December 13, 2019, followed by the rest of the season starting March 23, 2020.

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.
  • Absentee Actor:
    • Sophia is seen without Emmy in "Never Been Pierced", "How Sydney Got Her Phone Back" and "Night Not at the Museum".
    • Emmy is seen without Sophia in "'Mo Grandmas, 'Mo Problems".
  • 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.
  • Advertisement:
  • Adult Fear: In "Night Not at the Museum", Sydney is upset with her father for missing too many of her curfews and decides to go out to a special one night event she was going to miss. She then listens to the messages on her phone from the previous night where her father is frantically trying to get a hold of her, his calls becoming more desperate and worrying. Sydney then realized how her father felt and why he reacts so much when she is late.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Shows up frequently.
    • "Night Not at the Museum": Sydney chooses to accept her punishment, meaning she misses the 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.
  • 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.
  • Christmas Episode: "How The Syd Stole Christmas" in Season 2.
  • 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.
  • Drop-In Character: Olive, who constantly spends time at Sydney's house because of the chaos her four brothers cause.
  • Feud Episode:
    • "I Know What You Did Last Sleepover" for Sydney and Olive.
    • "My Best Friend's Ending" for Emmy and Sophia.
  • First Period Panic: In Season 2, Sydney drops out of a concert because she’s 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 it’s 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.
  • 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 destroys his and Max's friendship.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: In "Thirteen Candles", the young Alisha sings this at Max's thirteenth birthday.
  • 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.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title is a pun on a '90s movie or song.
  • 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".
  • Missing Mom: Sydney's mother passed away five years prior to the show.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Max is White while his late wife Alisha was Black, making Sydney biracial.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Overprotective Dad: Max is said to be overprotective and doting to Sydney.
  • 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:
  • The Reveal: The season 2 finale reveals Leo and Alisha are actually cousins meaning Leo and Max are actually cousins in law
  • Salt and Pepper: Max and Leo. As an inverse of the stereotypes, it's Leo who is the uptight one and Max who is the rebellious one.
  • 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.
  • 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 Max’s 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".
  • Team Hand-Stack: The Four Amigas have one together whenever they agree on something or vow to do things right.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: A variation of four that Sydney forms with Olive, Sophia and Emmy. Their group is called "The Four Amigas" as requested by the last of them.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • "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.
  • 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," it’s 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 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:

Main / IAmBecomingSong