- “It feels like a party e-ver-y-day, hey Jessie!”
- ―Lyrics from the show's theme
Jessie is an American sitcom which premiered on September 30, 2011 on Disney Channel. The series was created and executive produced by Pamela Eells O'Connell and stars Debby Ryan as Jessie Prescott, a small town Texas girl who moves to New York City and becomes a nanny to a high profile couple's four children played by Peyton List, Cameron Boyce, Karan Brar, and Skai Jackson. On March 11, 2012, Disney announced that Jessie had been renewed for a second season and that a telefilm based on the series was in development. Filming for the second season began on July 9, 2012. Season 2 premiered on October 5, 2012.
On March 28, 2013, the series was renewed for a third season, with production resuming in July 2013. Season 3 premiered on October 5, 2013. On April 16, 2014, according to ABC News, Jessie will get engaged in a four-episode arc that will conclude the season in the fall, marking the first time a Disney Channel lead character has gotten engaged.
The series follows Jessie Prescott, a 19-year old small town girl with big dreams who, rebelling against her strict Marine Sergeant father, decides to leave the military base in Texas where she grew up and moves to New York City. She accepts a job as a nanny and moves into a two million dollar penthouse on the Upper West Side with the wealthy Ross family which includes: jet-setting parents, Morgan and Christina; and their four rambunctious children: Emma, Luke, Ravi and Zuri; along with the family pet (and Ravi's companion) Mrs. Kipling, a seven-foot monitor lizard. With a whole new world of experiences open to her, Jessie embarks on new adventures in the big city as she grows to rely on the love and support of the children in her care. Assisting her are Bertram, the family’s sarcastic butler, and Tony Chiccolini , the building's 20-year old doorman.
The series was created by Pamela Eells O'Connell who'd had previous experience with the "nanny" sitcom formula, starting her career as a writer on the series, Charles in Charge and serving as co-executive producer on The Nanny, before working with Debby Ryan on The Suite Life on Deck. O'Connell is said to have developed Jessie specifically to showcase Ryan's talent. In an interview with the Star-Telegram, Ryan explained how the concept originated - "(O'Connell) and I were throwing ideas back and forth when The Suite Life was coming to an end, and she came up with this. I was absolutely captivated. Then Disney looked at the script and the showrunner (O'Connell) and myself and they were like: 'Awesome. We like it. You're on in the fall'". In interviews with Variety, Disney CEO, Gary Marsh spoke of working with Ryan again, - "It's been thrilling to watch Debby grow from an unknown actress to one of our top stars. Debby is a talented young actress who connects to a wide fanbase because she's genuine, relatable and aspirational all at once. Our viewers have followed her from The Suite Life on Deck to 16 Wishes, and we're pleased to be working with her again."
With Ryan signed on, Disney Channel began the search to cast the Ross family in May 2011. Before casting was finalized, there were numerous differences in the original concept for several of the characters. The role of mother to the Ross children was originally a photographer named "Pandora", the role of eldest daughter, Emma was originally named "Anabel", the role of Luke was originally a boy adopted from Korea named "Hiro" and the role of Ravi was originally a boy adopted from South America named "Javier" who had a pet capybara instead of a monitor lizard. Some have speculated that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, as a prominent celebrity couple with a multicultural adoptive family, may have been one possible inspiration for the series. In an interview with the Boston Herald, O'Connell described her inspiration, saying - "I thought the celebrity parents and gorgeous penthouse would be glamorous, and a nice contrast to Jessie’s more modest Texas roots. That fish out of water element makes for good stories, and I was inspired by many families who have adopted children of different ethnicities."
After casting was finalized and changes were made to several of the characters to suit the actors chosen, the series skipped the pilot phase and was put directly into production. Filming began in June 2011 on Stage 3/8 at Hollywood Center Studios which, prior to start of production, served as the soundstage where the Disney Channel series, Wizards of Waverly Place was taped. Thirteen episodes were originally ordered for the first season, but while the show's first season was in production, Disney Channel ordered an additional seven episodes bringing the total number of episodes for the first season to twenty. When asked about the atmosphere on set during an interview with MSN TV, Ryan described her relationship with the young cast - "I definitely feel like a nanny! They are smart kids, but they're real kids. They like to have fun. My policy is: We can play hard, as long as we work hard, and because we work hard, we need to play hard."
Austin & Ally crossover
In November 2012, Disney Channel announced that the show will crossover with Austin & Ally as a one-hour special episode titled "Austin & JESSIE & Ally All Star New Year." It aired on December 7, 2012.
Good Luck Charlie crossover
In November 2013, a crossover between Jessie and Good Luck Charlie aired. It was a one-hour Christmas special titled, "Good Luck Jessie: NYC Christmas." It aired on November 29, 2013.
Cast and characters
- Jessie Prescott (Debby Ryan), an idealistic and resourceful girl from a military base in rural Texas. Rebelling against her father, a strict Marine Sergeant, Jessie moved to New York City to realize her dreams, becoming nanny to the four Ross children. In the episode Cattle Calls & Scary Walls, her last name is revealed to be Prescott.
- Emma Ross (Peyton List), a bubbly, somewhat ditzy, cynical girl, eager to reorder the world to the way she sees fit. Emma is the oldest and the sole biological child of the Ross kids. It appears in Season 1 that she spends most of her time with Zuri, and doesn't appreciate Luke as much as her other siblings.
- Luke Ross (Cameron Boyce), a clever prankster who was born in Detroit and has a passion for video games and break-dancing. He considers himself a ladies' man, having taken a liking to Jessie in particular. Luke is the second oldest child of the Ross children. It seems that in Season 1, he spends a lot of time with his brother, Ravi, and has a close frenemy bond with Bertram. Even though he fights mostly with Emma, he still gets along really well with Zuri.
- Ravi Ross (Karan Brar), an intelligent and gentle boy from India and the newest adoptee of the Ross family. He is imbued with the culture of his beloved homeland, but is thrilled with his new life in America. He is the second-youngest of the Ross children. In Season 1, he seems to spend most of his time with Luke, but appreciates his sisters the same. In "Creepy Connie's Curtain Call", he starts befriending Creepy Connie.
- Zuri Ross (Skai Jackson), a quick-witted girl adopted at birth from Africa. She is highly creative and has many stuffed animals and imaginary friends. She is currently the youngest child of the Ross children. In Season 1, she has close bonds with Jessie and Emma, although she does appreciate her brothers as well. In Cattle Calls and Scary Walls, it is revealed that Johnny Depp is her godfather.
- Bertram Winkle (Kevin Chamberlin), the grouchy and often lazy butler of the Ross family, who begrudgingly helps Jessie navigate her job as nanny to the four Ross children. In one episode, his hoarding obsession is revealed. In "Tempest in a Teacup," it is revealed that Bertram is claustrophobic. He also has a passion for opera music. Even though the Ross kids will get on his nerves sometimes, he deeply cares about them.
- Tony Chiccolini (Chris Galya), the good looking doorman in the building where the Ross family lives who has strong feelings for Jessie but helps her navigate her adventures in the big city. He also starts to date Jessie in episode 13, of season 1.
- Morgan Ross (Charles Esten), father to the four Ross children and a famous movie director.
- Christina Ross (Christina Moore), mother to the four Ross children and a former supermodel turned business magnate.
- Mr./Mrs. Kipling (Frank) is the Ross family's house pet, a seven-foot Asian water monitor lizard that is brought from India by Ravi when he came to America.
- Mrs. Rhoda Chesterfield (Carolyn Hennesy), the cold-blooded head of the condo board in the building where the Ross family lives, and the main antagonist of the series. Her first spat with Jessie and the Ross clan involved Mr. Kipling tearing her clothes up in the elevator. She basically hates anyone who is not rich, who is under 18, or who is less self-absorbed than herself. This sadly doesn't stop her from repeatedly hitting on Bertram, or lavishing too much affection on her chihuahua, Zeus.
- Officer Petey (Joey Richter), a police officer who is strangely obsessed with the performing arts. In fact, he wanted to be an actor.
- Nanny Agatha (Jennifer Veal), an ugly English nanny who forbids Jessie from taking the Ross kids to Central Park. She ends up putting pictures of Jessie online that makes her look like a bad nanny. She has a twin sister Angela (Jennifer Veal) that she cannot stand, who nearly manipulates her way into replacing Jessie so she decides to tell the truth and help Jessie out.
- Connie Thompson (Sierra McCormick), known as "Creepy" Connie is an evil girl who has a 100% crush on Luke. She appeared in the episode "Creepy Connie Comes a Callin" when she tutors Luke but also tries to flirt with him. Then, she appeared in the episode "Creepy Connie's Curtain Call", when she auditions for the school play written by Jessie. She does bad things to the lead girl actor, so she can get the lead role and a kiss with Luke. In the episode "Creepy Connie's Curtain Call", she starts befriending Ravi. She also seems to love Harry Potter.
- Mackenzie (G. Hannelius), known as "Mad Mac", is an actress on the show, but she worked with Connie unaware that she was planning to kidnap and marry Luke.
The pilot episode of Jessie was released as a free download via the iTunes store one week prior to its Disney Channel premiere. Making its official debut on the Disney Channel on September 30, 2011, the series became the network's most-watched premiere on a Friday since September 2008, when The Suite Life on Deck debuted. The premiere of Jessie ranked as the No. 1 telecast at 9 p.m. with a total of 4.6 million total viewers in the target demographics, scoring 2.3 million viewers among kids 6-11 and 1.8 million viewers among tweens 9-14, with an average of 887,000 viewers among adults age 18-49. The most watched episode of Jessie is "Star Wars" with 7.32 million viewers and the least watched episode is "The Kid Whisperer" with 2.29 million viewers.
|2012||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Series – Supporting Young Actor||Karan Brar||Won|
|2013||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Series – Supporting Young Actor||Karan Brar||Nominated|
|BAFTA Awards||Kid's Vote – Television||Jessie||Won|
|2014||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Program (Series or Special)||Karan Brar||Nominated|
|2014 Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite TV Show||Jessie|
|Favorite TV Actress||Debby Ryan|
|2014 Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV Actress: Comedy||Debby Ryan|
|British Academy Children's Awards||Kid's Vote – Television||Jessie||Won|
|2015||Young Artist Award||Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series||JJ. Totah|
|2015 Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite TV Show – Kids Show||Jessie||Nominated|