Girl Meets World... Not for the Nostalgic Fan
Girl Meets World… Not for the Nostalgic Fan
By Adam Marcey
When it was announced a spin-off of Boy Meets World was in the works, I just about leaped out of my chair in my cubicle at the cubicle farm where I work and “whooped” with delight. I wanted to share the good news with all those that could hear, but suddenly realized I should be working and not reading articles on the internet, so I kept it to myself. But, I couldn’t believe that they were going to revisit the characters of one of my most beloved television shows of all time. I know I wasn’t the only one anticipating the release; however when I learned a few things, much of that anticipation turned into more of the skeptical kind of anticipation as opposed to the excited kind.
The first thing that starting to spin my cynical gears is the simple fact that the Disney channel would be airing the show. I think that the Disney channel does produce wholesome, quality programming for kids, but not for a 33 year old adult. It was also later revealed that the show would mainly focus on Cory and Topanga’s middle school aged daughter Riley. So it sounded like all the original characters I loved would be taking the proverbial back seat to Riley and a group of all-Disney-channel type circle of friends. The only piece of news that I found interesting enough to hold my anticipation was that Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel would be reprising their original roles and there would be at least cameo appearances of old cast members like Cory’s friend Shawn Hunter and their old mentor George Feeny.
So June 27th rolled around, and I found myself watching the pilot episode of Girl Meets World on the Disney channel at 9:45 at night, which I find to be an odd time to start a show, especially a premier. In my younger days 9:45 would have been early, but now I was thinking that it was about time hit the sack, which is sad in itself. Let’s just say that I was not impressed with what I saw. At all. So I waited a few weeks to watch the next episode, and my fears started to manifest in front of me: this was nothing like the original show and it was going to be a huge let down.
Now, I like to think that I have a solid head on my shoulders and that I don’t get caught up in hopeless day dreams and what-if scenarios, but a small part of me thought that it could be pulled off. But let’s be real here: Adults don’t watch the Disney channel, they might be the ones paying the cable company for it, but they’re definitely not watching it. This show is going to be produced for the younger fans already watching the Disney channel. Which I think loses half of the appeal of the original show already. Boy Meets World had a universal appeal to it, and Cory did have to face real problems kids his age eventually face on the show; whether it was Cory wanting the responsibility of a job to earn money but then realizing it was better to have no responsibility and be a kid for as long has he could, or having to deal with teenage relationships and the peer pressure of having sex too early or drinking alcohol (topics I don’t see Disney allowing on this show at all). But the stark reality is here: this show is not made for us 30-somethings that fell in love with Boy Meets World. It’s made for our kids or our nieces and nephews. It’s made for a generation that lives in the more complicated world of cell phones, easy to access internet, answers at your fingertips and constant connectivity. It’s for a generation that can’t hold its collective attention span for more than 5 minutes unless they’re playing a video game. Rest in peace T.G.I.F. television.
So with all that being said, what specifically do I not like? Well, the first point being the obvious references to “passing the torch” from Cory Matthews to Riley Matthews. In the pilot, Cory constantly reminds his daughter that she’s living in his world and not her own world yet, and the basic plot revolves around Riley proving to her parents that she has the responsibility to live in her own world, shown tangibly by Riley obtaining her own subway pass from her parents. Ok, super. Isn’t this supposed to be Girl Meets World and not Girl Gets Thrown into the Real World Already? Let’s not push the envelope too fast people. Obviously, getting her own subway pass doesn’t necessarily mean Riley’s all grown up, but it certainly plays off as such. Riley’s best friend Maya is also a way too obvious knock-off of Shawn Hunter, Cory’s best friend in the original show. Maya makes reference to having nobody at home to help her with homework, just like Shawn’s tumultuous home life. In the second episode, Maya complains that she doesn’t have a smart phone like everyone else, alluding to the fact that she or her parents can’t afford one, another obvious parallel to Shawn Hunter being poor and living in a trailer park in the original series. And lastly, the Maya character is basically a trouble maker who starts a homework rebellion in Cory’s classroom. Sound familiar? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of imagination put into the character yet and it’s almost as if the writers wanted her to be exactly the same as Shawn Hunter. An obvious method to dupe the old fans into liking the new show? Possibly. A few other points I don’t like: nobody has uttered Topanga’s name once yet (unless I missed it), Cory is conveniently his daughter’s teacher, there have been very few scenes of just Cory and Topanga together, and the cameos have been non-existent all but once so far. In this day and age, you have to hit the ground running. I know that there’s a full season ahead but shouldn’t my attention be captured and held from the beginning? But this all goes back to my original point: this show was not made for me and my generation.
Not all was lost. There were a few things I did like about the first two episodes; the main one being that Ben Savage still can be Cory Matthews. Although his character in this show is a Dad, every once in a while you can still see the old crazy, neurotic Cory Matthews come out which immediately gets me thinking about the old show. The character of Farkle comes across as funny and charming at points, although slightly over-the-top. The Farkle character is also the son of original character Stuart Minkus, whose role will be reprised by original cast member Lee Norris, which is great. And of course the 5 second appearance of non-other than George Feeny at the end of the pilot tickled my nostalgic taste buds. In these moments, I feel like I’m sitting in my living room 20 years ago watching the show on my standard definition TV and can see my love of this show starting to unfold in front of me, but these moments are few and far between.
So if you’re like me, I’m sure you’re disappointed after watching the first two episodes of Girl Meets World. Simply put, this is not going to be the same show as the one we all fell in love with. But can Disney make this show stand out and hold up on its own merits? Only time will tell, but I’m not going to put much hope into it, let alone time. I have my own world to live in.