The other night, I found myself debating the recent improvements to Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World while on my way to sleep. The recent changes being the increased presence of more of the original Boy Meets World cast. I found that while this is a more interesting path to dream land than counting sheep, it’s also one more firm step toward “I have no life.”
Still, those recent changes are kind of blowing my mind.
Girl Meets World picks up 14 years after Boy Meets World, ABC’s former TGIF staple that aired from 1993 to 2000. Original stars Corey (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) are now true adults raising their two children, Riley (Rowan Blanchard) and Auggie (August Maturo), in New York City. Naturally, just as Corey met world, Riley is well on her way to greeting her own world as well in this new manifestation of the show.
Ever the optimist—and often funktastically goofy— Corey had his best friend, Shawn (Rider Strong), sarcastic, moody, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Riley has Maya (Sabrina Carpenter), a pessimist, a girl from a broken home. She knows how the world works. Together, Riley and Maya are navigating their early teen years and learning valuable life lessons while wearing 17 layers of brightly colored, extremely fashionable clothing and accessories and combat boots that any reasonable person could never combine into an outfit worth looking at.
So it was the nostalgia that started me watching Girl Meets World. I don’t care about Riley and Maya learning the value of a hard day’s work during a day shift in the school cafeteria. Or learning about responsibility by babysitting Auggie. Or learning about history by role-playing the ‘60s. Or how you can easily learn that every person is insecure about something by having every person write that insecurity on a note card and taping it to their foreheads. (This happened.) Who cares?! What I care about is Corey and Topanga being in their early 30s, like me.
It’s the ‘90s nostalgia wave, and everyone of my certain age is riding the hell out of it right now. There’s the men of Full House doing yogurt commercials. The whole #TBT (“Throw-Back Thursday”) thing. Donnie Wahlberg is currently on four different television shows, two of which regularly feature his fellow New Kids on the Block bandmates and one of which is about the annual New Kids on the Block cruise. (This is something that happens.)
The powers that be at Girl Meets World are finally starting to catch onto this wave, because more and more original cast members from Boy Meets World are beginning to appear on the show and get more screen time, as are Corey and Topanga. And the show’s so much better because of it. That’s what’s got me up at night, debating Maya vs. Shawn, Corey vs. Riley, instead of counting those sheep, or you know, thinking about something important. Why am I getting so much enjoyment out of my childhood favorites reincarnating themselves? Why do I care? Why don’t I know any of the songs on the radio anymore? Why is there a New Kids on the Block cruise, and why haven’t I been on it?
In the recent holiday episode of Girl Meets World, the whole Matthews family, plus Shawn, reunites at Corey and Topanga’s. (Well, mostly everyone except for two siblings, notably Eric “Fee-hee-hee-eeny” Matthews. But give it time. He’s slated to appear this season.) It’s a Christmas celebration, but between all the presents and pies, Riley is troubled by the appearance of Uncle Shawn. He hasn’t been around much, and Riley feels he doesn’t like her.
In this present-day version of the show, whatever the issue is gets pretty quickly thrown out there, and after dinner and presents and a cute Corey and Shawn song and dance, Maya is confronting Shawn about him not liking Riley. Riley then has the idea to force Maya and Shawn to sit in her room and hash things out. They’re both from the wrong side of the tracks, so naturally, they’ll get each other eventually, and isn’t it funny how Riley can solve problems by inventing absurd interpersonal scenarios? That’s where Girl Meets World fails but where the increased addition of Boy Meets World rights the ship.
The Boy Meets World crew has already met world. They’ve been around the block, and they lend Girl Meets World a little of what it is otherwise sorely lacking, some seasoned reality. When Shawn ultimately reveals that what’s kept him away is the discomforting fact that his friends are getting married and having families and he’s not, everyone of a certain age gets that. The kids don’t totally get it, but there’s a sense in that moment that this is one of those things one learns on the way to meeting that world. A little gravity. Without it, Girl Meets World is just another overly peppy and painfully saccharine tween show with characters in silly situations and even sillier (and yet utterly fashionable) clothes.
I’m excited to see where Girl Meets World goes with the nostalgia factor mixed in. Of course, not nearly as excited as I am to rewatch and rewatch and rewatch Jimmy Fallon’s new Saved by the Bell cast reunion sketch (Zack!!!! Kelly!!!!!!!!!!!!! omggggggg!) Now if only there was an SBTB cruise…
(Image from screenrant.com)
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