Traveling back to Boy Meets World

At the age of six, I imagined that by the age of ten I would sit in grown-up desks with a basket under my chair.  I would be fairly autonomous, trusted to babysit, and develop lifelong relationships with my teachers.  I was under the impression that it was customary to fall in love by middle school while wearing either three different kinds of plaid or a floral hippie-dress.

From where did these fanciful ideas come? Can you imagine them coming from anywhere other than the absolutely unique, marvelous Boy Meets World? Take a moment and reflect on the show that introduced you to Cory, Topanga, Shawn, Eric, Morgan (…both of them…), Angela, Rachel, Jack, Harley Keiner, Griff (remember him? He was a short-lived, but particularly fun character), and, the infamous, “Fee-nay!  Fee-he-he-heenay!”

Travel back to the land of first loves, crazy 90’s clothes, that  odd phenomenon of not recognizing that “Topanga” was a strange name anymore.  That’s called Topangamnesia, and it’s one sign that you’re 1) amazing and 2) forever a part of the Boy Meets World family.  Remember, for just a moment, how it was said that Cory and Topanga met in at least three different ways, the fact that Topanga’s mom’s name (and the actress who played her, for that matter) changed halfway through the series.  Recall your heartbreak when Cory kissed that other girl whose name we’ve chosen to forget.  Take a moment to reflect, from a now-mature perspective, Alan and Amy’s parenting styles. Now go back and watch the entire series from start to finish instead of studying for finals… ahh….

If you haven’t yet devised, the show has a special place in my heart. I can recite chunks of lines, tell you what characters wore when a particular event took place, and break the show apart into three, very distinct periods (think about it for a minute – it was practically three different shows.  It’s denoted by the change in theme songs, all of which I know by heart). Like the majority of my generation, I “awe” every time I watch Sean and Trini set Cory and Topanga up on their first date.  I shake my head at Eric’s increasingly silly shenanigans.  I chuckle at the frequency of Sean’s deep moments (he has one in almost every episode.  Look for it.)  I was part of “Boy Meets World Club” in high school, for goodness sake.  The television program introduced me to the clever practice of narratives making fun of themselves (for example, the characters kidding  with each other about Feeny following them through school) and made me aware of Chaucerian sentence (the way in which a story is told) and solas (the moral) long before I knew the meaning of such lofty terms.  Boy Meets World wormed its way into the hearts and minds of an entire generation, so it comes as no surprise that Girl Meets World is stirring up strong and conflicted feelings.

I was a bit wary when I first heard of the plans to create a Disney Channel show about Cory and Topanga’s middle-school-aged daughter.  I still am.  I’m concerned the show will not do its predecessor justice.  I am worried that the continually lessening Disney Channel quality will ruin my memories of those I’ve begun to think of as my friends and mentors.  I have doubts, but I have hope as well.

“I don’t think, until the end, I had read a good review of Boy Meets World,” Will Friedle (who, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, played Eric Matthews on the show) is quoted saying.  That same quality that made critics detest the show was the quality that made the show worth watching in the first place, wasn’t it?  Boy Meets World was never meant to be “good” television.  It was family-oriented, clean, quirky, off-beat, character-driven, inconsistent, funny, naïve, and altogether lovable.  If you recall, in the episode in which Shawn was dressed in a white tennis outfit and confronted by his jealous girlfriend about hanging out with his best bud, he responds, while standing directly next to him: “That’s not Corey. That’s cake.”  Is that particularly well-crafted dialogue?  Arguably, no.   Is it precious, goofy, and oh-so-Shawn?  Undeniably, yes.

Boy Meets World taught me a ton about life, love, family, and the importance of friendship with a bit of schmaltziness.  There was the occasional cheesy bit of fun-to-make-fun-of dialogue, a glance held too long, or a forced expression.  Sets were (noticeably) reused and couples got married at unbelievable ages.  The same will probably be true for Girl Meets World.  That will just make it better.  It should be a bit awkward with a twinkle of forced-authenticity and corny punch-lines.  Part of Boy Meets World’s very identity is the fact that it’s so make-fun-able.  Girl Meets World should be the same way.  I’m excited to touch base with my old friends and their sure-to-be-a-bit-annoying daughter.  My only hope is that she uplifts children today the same way her parents did for our generation.

Photography credited to: ABCNEWS.go.com. No copyright infringement intended. 

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