The most important TV news of the week was, perhaps, overshadowed by Two and a Half Men’s titular half man Angus T. Jones and his sudden, spiritually motivated disavowal of the series that he’s starred in for ten years. So what could possibly be more significant than an actor calling his own show “filth”? New information about the Disney Channel’s Boy Meets World sequel, of course!
Girl Meets World—a follow-up to the ’90s ABC sitcom about adolescent (and later, young adult), PG-13 level tribulations that featured life lessons delivered by a wise, omnipresent neighbor/teacher/senior citizen BFF—is still in the early stages of development and will reportedly focus on the tween daughter of Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence, the original series’ main lovebirds. (Yup, that’s right, it looks like we finally have proof that Cory + Topanga = 4 Eva!)
While the sequel news broke earlier in November, this week it was announced that Boy Meets World actors Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel will be reprising their roles for the pilot. After the announcement was made, everyone across this great land started passionately high-fiving each other (figuratively but probably also literally).
That’s what’s most interesting about Girl Meets World—the Boy Meets World fan response.
First, people can’t stop talking about this show, including me right now, and weirdly, the conversation has been overwhelmingly positive, at least that’s the impression that I’ve been getting from the comment sections of all of my usual internet haunts as well as my own heart, which has fully embraced the idea of another Matthews child meeting the world. I say “weirdly” because the lack of skepticism about this new show flies in the face of everything I know about sequel announcements and science and whatnot. Aren’t we, as human being internet users, wired to distrust spin-offs, reboots, and this kind of mining of the beloved pop culture ephemera of our youth? Specifically though, why is it so easy to get behind this particular project?
Boy Meets World premiered on TGIF, ABC’s long ago defunct family-oriented programming block, in 1993. Was it a great show? My immediate, visceral response to that question would be, yes, it was one of the most amazing sitcoms ever in the history of life. But objectively, no, it wasn’t terribly impressive. It was fun, populated by likable characters and floppy-haired actors who I wanted to French kiss when I was 12 years old, but the humor was broad and there were strange holes in the series’ logic (Cory’s older brother Eric went from average intelligence at the beginning of the show’s run to loveable moron by its finale without explanation), which probably make it unlikely source material for a sequel.
Folks are getting excited about Girl Meets World because—duh—nostalgia! But just because we loved some old show doesn’t mean that we want a spinoff 12 or 13 years down the road. I really liked Denver, the Last Dinosaur when I was a kid, but do I want to see it remade or updated? Eh, sort of…but mostly, no. Anyway, what we’re seeing here is a very specific kind of TV based nostalgia that I don’t think will exist for kids who are growing up in 2012.
These days, there are hundreds of channels to choose from, so there’s nothing, I don’t think, that the vast majority of kids are watching at any given moment. But Boy Meets World, which ended in 2000, aired during the last decade where we didn’t have a ton of kid-centric viewing options. If you were an American, TV-watching youngster during the ’90s then I think it’s safe to say that your Friday nights revolved around the TGIF and by the end of that decade, Boy Meets World had become the lynchpin of the line-up.
Whether you loved the show or just sort of watched with indifference because nothing else was on, you did watch it and so Boy Meets World is this generation’s touchstone. And just as people who are in their late 20s or early 30s can look back at the inexplicable ’90s Pogs phenomenon with nothing but fondness because it was such an integral part of childhood during the era, the same is likely true of Boy Meets World. That has to be playing some role in all of this positivity.
There’s also the fact that a sequel, in this case, makes sense. While I don’t think anyone was out there petitioning the Disney Channel to continue the Boy Meets World saga, Cory and Topanga were married toward the end of the original series, so it only stands to reason that they’d start a family. The premise of this new show, then, isn’t’ forced or strange like a movie based on a board game and some of the original cast members are involved, so why wouldn’t we be down with it?
But also, I hope, that it isn’t too hard to be enthusiastic about Girl Meets World because people are putting the whole idea into perspective. Boy Meets World was funny, it depicted a very sweet best friend relationship between two of its protagonists, neurotic Cory and bad boy Shawn (Rider Strong), and it was a fixture in my life for my entire adolescence. But if this sequel turns out to be painfully unfunny or absolutely nothing like the original series, really, who cares?
Isn’t it just going to be kind of cool to see Ben Savage again?