What’s Wrong With Girl Meets World

This past Friday, something amazing happened. I sat and watched a show I never could have imagined existing. It was the FIFTH episode of Girl Meets World. The sequel series to the show that helped me survive middle school. Nothing about the episode itself was very special, just the fact that it exists! There was Cory Matthews, the one character I identified most with in my youth, standing next to Topanga (!), my first real crush. They’re married and have kids! My childhood and adulthood just smacked into each other, and the effect was fun…but not great.

Believe me, I’ve been watching this show since the first episode was released online. I was SO there. Hell, I was there when the trailer first premiered. I even made a REGGIE RETRO video about it.

I haven’t chosen to write about it until now, because I haven’t really known what to say. Well, except for Reggie’s reaction to the first episode:

Over the course of five episodes I’ve watched this perfectly adequate children’s show with a tinge of nostalgia, a pinch of annoyance, but lots of fun. It’s cute. Very rarely does it go beyond the point of being cute. Not to say they don’t try. There have been plenty of scenes where you can tell the creators behind the show are trying to push it beyond the confines of the Disney Channel. They want to talk about important issues, but have to dance around it with flashy Jazz-Hands and goofy faces.

All that is fine. The later seasons of Boy Meets World went to some terribly cartoony situations. That’s what the show feels like – The final season of Boy Meets World, made for the Disney channel.

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Speaking of Disney Channel, a lot of fans hated the fact that the show would be on a children’s network. Boy Meets World, they say, tackled big issues in a serious way, showing kids what the real world was like. Disney would NEVER let that happen! Well, that’s not exactly true. After all, TGIF was a block of family shows on ABC which was owned by Disney. Re-runs of the show air on Disney, and ABC Family all the time. And it isn’t like BMW didn’t have some childish stories. Remember the one where Cory was zapped back in time for the Cold War?

Yes, I doubt they’ll have any stories about teenage drinking, or how rumors about sex can ruin – or make- your reputation. And I can guarantee they won’t come close to the time when Eric had to listen to his mother read a story about the first time she had sex with his Dad. These are things I can accept for two reasons.

1) I’m not a child and the show isn’t for me.

2) That’s not what’s wrong with the show.

My biggest problem with the show USED to be that Cory is just Cory, (actually I like the way my Dad put it, “It’s Ben Savage acting as Ben Savage acting as Cory Matthews”) Topanga is just Danielle Fishel, Riley is just girl Cory, Maya is just girl Shawn, and Farkle is…kind of Minkus, but mostly Farkle. That was until I noticed the missing element that makes the show still feel weak, like it’s not holding together.

There is no Alan Matthews.

Mr. Matthews was what grounded the original series. He had his goofy moments, just like everyone else, but he was the voice of reality in a lot of episodes. Mr. Feeny was the wise guide. Amy was the heart. Alan was the World. He was out there in the world that Cory was preparing for. He’d seen some Sh*t and made it through OK. Besides, he was the first TV dad, to me, that felt like a real Dad. He reminded me of mine. He liked to joke, have fun, he was supportive, and would let you know when you f*cked up, but always be there at the end of the day.

When he gave his end of the episode morals, it wasn’t always sappy Danny Tanner dribble. He spoke like a real Dad. Look at this scene. Even when someone takes advantage of someone his son cares about, he steps up and makes sure they step the hell off:

He wasn’t perfect. He had a lot of learning to do, and lessons to learn. Girl Meets World doesn’t have that. They try with the Cory/Maya relationship, but it doesn’t feel as earnest, or real. Maybe that’s because Ben Savage isn’t a parent, or because it’s Disney channel, but that grounded element, be it a parent or otherwise, is badly needed.

Girl Meets World is fun and cute. While not yet a perfect show, it’s still the best thing on the Disney Channel. And I can’t believe it EXISTS! I still pinch myself while watching it. THAT’S Cory Matthews. I’m still excited to see where it goes, and how it develops. Especially since Alan and the family will be in episode 13.

Overall, my message to Cory, comes in the words of his great mentor Mr. Feeny: “Well done, Mr. Matthews.”

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