After 14 years, Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel), the couple who taught every current twentysomething about the nature of true love and the definition of “soulmate,” returned to the small screen to prove that their love is quite possibly what every single Disney movie EVER has been talking about for the last 70 years.
The Boy Meets World spinoff, Girl Meets World, centered around Cory and Topanga’s tween daughter Riley Matthews, premiered on the Disney Channel on Friday, June 27th, a date many had marked on their calendars since the show was first announced nearly two years ago!
Overall, Girl Meets World was a triumph — a little cheesy (though that’s to be expected, as the original had a charming cheesy center, especially in the earlier seasons. Plus, it’s on the Disney Channel, so there’s that…), but it perfectly captured the essence and feeling of the first season of Boy Meets World. It had a great balance of nostalgia and new. Cory is the new Feeny as Riley’s middle school history teacher, but the show is set in the village in NYC (as deduced by the various shots of “Bleecker Street” crosswalk signs), as opposed to Philadelphia.
Rowan Blanchard, who plays Riley Matthews, is really quite endearing; she pretty much nails the Cory Matthews awkward face …
… and she
rambles talks with a lisp is totally endearing and quirkily and adorable. The casting for Riley was pitch-perfect, which, as we know from the original cast, is the most important element of any successful TV show, especial a sitcom.
The downside? It did seem like they tried to pack too much into 20 minutes though, but this is how I view it: It was a baton-passing episode, from Boy Meets World to Girl Meets World. After all, it IS it’s own show and though the show did rely on the same BMW character types (Riley’s best friend Maya is the new Shawn Hunter, Farkle, the class nerd is the new Minkus), the characters showed a lot of promise for growth. This, however, is contingent upon the direction the writers take the show. The teen TV landscape has changed since Boy Meets World went off the air; now, every show with a tween/teen demographic on a major network is dripping with scandal, sex, and salacious characterizations. On the flip-side, too many Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows have dealt with fame and, in a post-Gossip Girl era, have been built around social media and “getting famous.” Good old fashioned family values mixed with rebellion and genuine tween growing pains — including gender issues (the infamous season 4 episode, “Chick Like Me”) — isn’t the norm, and should the writers stick to the original Boy Meets World formula, Girl Meets World should continue to carry the same torch as its predecessor.
Many fans of the original series aren’t too pleased about the “new direction” and claiming that there isn’t the same level of charm as the original series.
To that, I say this: name me a pilot of a half-hour sitcom where all the kinks were ironed out, every character was fleshed out, and was flaw-free. Even FRIENDS, a legendary sitcom many deem untouchable, had a flawed pilot. But it set up the beginning of the series. And FRIENDS was a different show in its 2nd season, more comfortable and settled, as was the original Boy Meets World. Just as any tween, TV shows take a while to grow and find their place. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ben Savage was quoted saying:
Well, the other thing we’ve been getting blowback from is, “I’ve seen the pilot and it’s not as good as Boy Meets World.” Well, if you judge a seven year show plus 14 years of buildup and hype, it won’t measure up. I think that Girl Meets World is a little seed and it’s going to grow. People forget that Boy Meets World took a little while to become the show that everyone loves. It took us a couple of episodes for us to find this show, so I hope our fans are patient with us and understand.
Bottom line, it’s important to give the show time to grow. Hell, Boy Meets World didn’t become a show with great depth until Topanga got a haircut (and the iconic line: “This outfit with this hair? Hello? Buh-bye…I am SO at the mall,” which I quoted ALL THE DAMN TIME. Don’t lie, you did too.)
But, In the end, it’s all about the heart. And that is something Girl Meets World has plenty of.
Well done, Ms. Matthews. I can’t wait to see what comes next!
What did YOU think of the pilot episode of Girl Meets World? Nostalgic or Nonstarter! Phenomenal or Fail? Sound off in the comments below and check out the next episode Friday’s on the Disney Channel!