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April 19, 2014

Disney Channel's 'Jessie' breaks romantic ground

First time for a lead character on the kid's channel to become engaged

(Continued)

But Jessie's decision to marry young is not out of step with her and Dun's social circle.

"In the last year, we have seen close friends, five of them, get engaged, five. ... One couple is getting married next month and they are both 20, a year younger than me," Ryan said.

She sees marriage and commitment as "delicate" topics for the young viewers who watch her character for clues to growing up: "Your principal character is deciding whether or not she should start her life with a man."

Although romance is not something young viewers necessarily can relate to, Bonnett said, there are elements of the story that can have meaning for them.

"Our audience isn't dealing with somebody proposing to them, but they are dealing with choices they have to make in their life, and thinking things through, following their heart and wanting to make the right choice," he said.

Jessie and Ryan were the right combination to break ground for the channel, he said. Viewers have watched Jessie "blossom" and have seen the actress grow up over the past half-dozen years on Disney Channel programs including "The Suite Life on Deck" and the TV movie "16 Wishes."

The actress has her own firm views on what saying "I do" represents.

"It's not about the dress, it's not about the wedding. It's about the marriage. That's something we lose sight of when we're so young and all we want to do is dress up and play fairy tale," Ryan said.

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