Tuesday, December 9, 2014
A Word About Eric Matthews
But from everything I've heard or seen about the episode featuring his return, "Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels", I'd sort of rather it didn't happen. I'd take no Eric before I'd welcome that Eric.
My favorite seasons of Boy Meets World are the middle seasons - say, Seasons 3 through 5, with Season 4 representing, for me, the absolute pinnacle of the series. Cory, Shawn, Feeny, Topanga, Alan, it's everyone at their best, it's hilarious, and the cast hasn't been infused with weaker characters like Jack, Rachel, and Angela. And it's in that season that Eric truly shines. He's still hilarious and eccentric and off-kilter, but he's also... a person with struggles. A young man who'd grown up and slid through life doing the bare minimum, getting by with good looks, charms, wit, and the help of friends and family. Suddenly he was thrown into the real world and is forced to sink or swim - learning that no one's going to bail him out and all that 'hidden potential' he'd heard so much about doesn't mean dick if you don't do anything with it. And so, he was forced to pick himself up by his boot straps and make his life be what he wanted it to be. It was a tremendously written arc, made Eric a serious character, and yet... it diminished his hilarity not one bit. This was the season of The Good Lookin' Guy, the season of "Shallow Boy", the season of him wanting to join a cult for the hugs. Eric could be a real person and the show's biggest source of comedy.
And then, of course, well, we know what happened. All of Eric's humanity was stripped away in favor of being a complete and legitimate psychopath. No one like Eric of Season 7 could possibly exist, and if he did, everyone would hate him and have him committed. All serious and emotional arcs got shifted over to Shawn, and Eric was left with nothing. And "Plays With Squirrels" represents this totally. Is it funny? Absolutely. It was a funny way for Eric to have ended up in a FAKE future in ONE episode for ONE scene. Great stuff.
But all indications from the episode title and a recently released cast picture imply that this is the fate that Eric Matthews ACTUALLY ended up with. 150+ episodes of character development, of growing and struggling... and yeah, he's just a hermit who married a moose and hides lollipops in his beard. But nevermind that it's a waste of Eric's potential and hard work, nevermind that Eric only became a hermit because everyone stopped being friends and that future was kept from happening, nevermind that it was a fictional dream sequence anyway that was never meant to be taken as Eric's real fate, nevermind that the original series, for all its flaws, still sent him off into the world as a successful college graduate, moving to New York, free of some of his handicaps like always relying on his dad to bail him out. Nevermind all that.
The real reason for my rage is that I missed Eric. We all missed Eric. It's been Eric the fans of Boy Meets World have been clamoring to get back. We care about HIM, the guy we knew for, like, 70 hours worth of story, not the joke fantasy character he played once for 10 minutes at the end of the show. Should Cory have come back as Cora the sassy waitress? Should Shawn have come back as Strider, his Kid Gets Acquanted With the Universe counterpart? No. We missed Cory and Shawn. Yes, Plays With Squirrels was really funny. But it was funny in context. Not because suddenly that's how we all wanted Eric to be forever.
I had hopes that this show might redeem the travesty that Eric became, but if he really is playing Plays With Squirrels (and they're REALLY making it look like he is) then it's worse than I could have possibly imagined and I legitimately feel betrayed by Michael Jacobs, Will Friedle, and everyone involved. I can't imagine being able to stomach this show further. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this is all a misunderstanding. Subterfuge to mask the real plot. I hope so. But I'm not feeling optimistic.