Saturday, March 28, 2015

Episode Review: Girl Meets First Date (#1.20)

Hey everyone, I'm Sean. You may know me as ConfidenceKBM, author of the recently completed Boy Meets World Reviewed. I'll be teaming up with Christian here to talk through the increasingly divisive Girl Meets World, starting with episode 20. We're in figure-it-out-as-we-go mode for these team-reviews, so for this first attempt I'll just give my general thoughts then pass it over to Christian for his own thoughts and commentary on my thoughts, and continue that with a couple more passes back and forth.

Christian uses the default font in purple, so I'll be using this different font in gold. Let's get this world meeting started. No snacks will be provided at this time.

I don't know if this dead horse is still worth beating, but nothing that Cory does in the first two minutes resembles anything a real teacher would do. And it's fine, it's fun, but one of the core themes of Boy Meets World was how important yet undervalued teachers are. But now in GMW the teacher is simply a court jester for the students to throw rotten vegetables at. So that's upsetting, but like I said, dead horse. The highlight of the opening is Farkle's Belgium reaction, which actually made me laugh out loud for once. Unsurprisingly, it's an action resembling his father more than himself.


Looking at the episode as a whole though, this was one of their stronger efforts. Jacobs has proven that he understands teenage dating, and everything after the point where Lucas actually asked Riley out was pretty great, even though the date itself was cut painfully short. I was worried early on that we were getting a rehash of My Best Friend's Girl (BMW 3.01) when Maya asked Lucas out, since a lot of this season has been rehashes of Boy Meets World episodes, but that turned out not to be the case for the most part.

Probably the biggest flaw here is the dynamic between Maya and Joshua. They're trying very hard to sell us on Maya being heartbroken over Josh, but she knows nothing about this guy. It's obviously just physical attraction, and that's been the punchline of their conversations in every previous episode. But now I'm supposed to believe she's all broody and emotional over him? Sorry, I'm not buying it.


Auggie and Ava did their typical awful nonsense that makes me question every life choice that led me to watching it. That's all I wanna say about them. One last complaint is Cory being an overprotective father. WHY DOES EVERY SHOW HAVE TO DO THIS? IS IT THE LAW? DID THEY SNEAK THAT INTO THE PATRIOT ACT OR SOMETHING? The biggest question for me is, who the hell is it for? What audience do they think they're appealing to by writing Cory as an overprotective dad? Alan did the same thing to Morgan, and both times it's just like, why? Who? Who wants this?

So what did I like? Farkle's love of Belgium is worth mentioning again. Maya's initiative in asking out Lucas is awesome, as we've come to expect from her. I liked Farkle's pre-date jitters, and it would have been nice to see at least a hint of nervousness in Lucas, or, I don't know, some sort of emotion at all, but that's just asking for too much. My favorite part is the kiss. The Riley we saw in episode one never would have done that, so we've got definitive character growth as well as female empowerment. More than that is the fact that they're on the subway. It's not a candle lit romance novel of a date, it's just “we like each other and here we are, mwah.” One of the biggest things I took from the early seasons of BMW was Jacobs telling us “Look, dating is really not that scary, and it's really not a big deal.” And we're seeing that now in this episode, so I'm definitely a fan.


Just as a final thought, HOLY MOTHER OF THE GOD OF CONTINUINTY. Topanga's inability to pinpoint her first date with Cory is the best thing in the whole series. As a seasoned Boy Meets World veteran, it is incredibly gratifying to have Michael Jacobs poking fun at his own jumbled timeline. Especially the llama pen, I never in a million years thought we'd ever hear about that again. Five stars, A+.

Your move, Christian.


Thanks Sean, and welcome aboard! Unsurprisingly, you've hit on a lot of the things I thought about this episode as well. The joke about the constant retconning of when Cory and Topanga first got together was absolutely excellent, and is just the latest in a couple jokes they've given Copanga this year that lampoon some of the silliness of the original show. Boy Meets World was always a surprisingly meta show, especially for its time where shows didn't really do that much. Nowadays, in this age of shows like 30 Rock, Community, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it's become much more common and so it's nice to see Girl Meets World do that as well. I love that Topanga's list incorporated almost all the ones we ever heard for them over the years in BMW, as well as some new ones that we can pretend had been their retconned first date if we had been watching through the years of 2001 to 2013. 

So, great. We've got two paragraphs on one joke now. Nice.

Like you I thought we were going to get a "My Best Friend's Girl" reprise and the reason is because... for a second they did a "My Best Friend's Girl" reprise. And then they just dropped it. There was ultimately no reason whatsoever that Maya asked out Lucas  --  it didn't spur Riley into action because Lucas was the one who eventually asked her out, and the trickery only lasted like 15 seconds until Maya explained herself. You could have cut all of that happening from the episode and changed nothing. Ultimately, I'm left wondering what the point of it was. Was it a reference to that episode just for the sake of referencing that episode? If so, I think it was poorly handled. 




Still, it's better this than if they had dragged out that story since we all knew what Maya was doing. The show has pushed the Miley relationship so hard that it would be impossible for us to think Maya would do this to Riley. In comparison, back in early Season 3? Yeah, I could buy Shawn pulling this. He was a high school lothario, he had a habit of doing things without understanding the effect it would have on others, and Copanga wasn't as sacrosanct. That gave the story real stakes.

Anyway, I hated everything about Lucas in this episode, and Lucas and Riley's date. It's weird how this show could be so chock full of quirky characters, and yet have a young male lead that's just so aggressively cardboard. It's like they're going out of their way to write him that way, sometimes. Everything he said sounded fake, every line delivery rang false. Perhaps most of all, I just don't buy his friendship with the other three. With the possible exception of Maya, I feel like he doesn't get them. And Riley most of all. If I was a preteen boy, the reason I would like Riley is that she's quirky and energetic and awkward and spastic. I'd find her, for lack of a better word, 'adorkable'. But when Riley does those 'adorkable' things, it's like Lucas doesn't even... register that they're going on. He doesn't acknowledge them, he doesn't seem charmed by them, he just smiles blankly and recites Disney Prince platitudes. 


Look at him. He is EMPTY, guys. There's no light in those eyes.


Because Disney Prince platitudes are all he's capable of. Why'd they abandon the date so quickly? Because there's simply nothing there on his end that would allow us to write the date. He asked her out in a gentleman-ly fashion, he said stilted lines about not ever forgetting this moment, and that's... all he's capable of. So... date over, I guess? There's no dynamic between the two that could allow us to actually see how such a date would play out.  I don't know, you say Michael Jacobs is good at writing teen dating, and yeah we've seen some elements of that, but... this rang false to me. You say he showed us that teen dating doesn't have to be such a big deal, but on multiple occasions Lucas and Riley promised to remember moments of their crapfest date for the rest of their lives. 

On another note, I don't mind Cory in 'overprotective Dad' mode, because while it's a cliche, that is how Cory would react. The problem is that they'd make other fathers act like that, but Cory himself is fine. He hates change, he hates that she's growing up and will leave him, he hates not being the center of everyone's universe. That's a crucial character trait of his, so they can't not have it be there. But it wasn't per se, a crucial character of Alan's. Still, I do think this is an art imitating life thing. My understanding is that almost every father simply is overprotective about their daughter starting to date. 




I haven't gotten to Maya and Josh (and Josh's stupid cap) but I actually kind of liked it. It all rang a lot truer to me than Riley and Lucas' thing. Are Maya's feelings toward Josh surface level and not deserving of the level of angst she felt over it during this episode? Sure. That's middle school for ya. I thought everything there - the heartbreak, the hypocrisy on Josh's end, the shallowness, the unthinking cruelty of Maya up and abandoning Farkle to go flirt with Josh, all of it, really worked for me. And I also enjoyed how the college girl (whose line of "I'm going to be a junior, junior." was great) was totally immune to Josh's charms. I knew Shawn Hunter. Shawn Hunter was a friend of mine. You, Josh Matthews, are no Shawn Hunter. 

What say you to all that? And also, this is the de-facto first season finale. There is technically one more episode in the season, in three weeks, but that's a crossover episode with Disney Channel's Jessie (....hurrah....) that won't be advancing any storylines or anything. How does it rate? Both on its own, and in comparison to Boy Meets World season finales? BMW had some strong ones. 

You're spot on about the meta humor, BMW was definitely ahead of its time. *Obvious Eric Hollywood reference.* 

The "moment we'll remember forever" thing does sort of betray my "not taking it too seriously" idea, you're right, but I would argue that it falls in line with "art imitating life." Kids say that stuff to each other all the time. On the scale of outrageous relationshippy things kids say to each other, this one's not that bad. I'll try to clarify what I was saying. I went into this episode knowing that Lucas would be cardboard and the relationship would be Disneyfied. So I think, for me, it was a matter of evaluating Jacobs's ability to shine through those givens, and I was satisfied. Maybe my expectations were just low.

Josh's hat is an abomination, that's for sure. I was hoping you'd mention Maya ditching Farkle because I'm still not sure how I feel about it. My first reaction was total outrage, I couldn't BELIEVE she would ditch one of her closest friends to comfort a guy she barely knows who just got ditched. I was going to write that in my first segment, but... surely Farkle knows deep down that this isn't a real date, right? He's a reasonable guy. So I'll just say that I feel however Farkle feels about it. If he's outraged, I'm outraged, but if he understands that Maya isn't actually on a date with him, then yeah.



Regarding "that's middle school for ya," it's not really about the anguish, it's about the shift in the writing. I would be totally fine if Maya had been tormented by this shallow attraction in the past, because you're right, that's reality. "Shallow teenage infatuation that Maya thinks is real" is a dynamic that works that we can all relate to, I totally agree. But prior to this episode it was always "The joke is that Maya will never get him and everybody knows it, including her." Either dynamic is perfectly fine on its own, my problem is that they've instantly switched from one to the other.

I did not know this was the effective finale.  Crossovers are almost universally a bad idea, so I am not looking forward to that. I Dream of Feeny was decent, but I think it's fair to say that Boy Meets Girl was the "effective finale" of BMW's first season. So comparing that to this, they both did a good job drawing a clear line from where we started to where we are now. The main character made progress with the guidance of their best friend. Both have a feeling of a completed arc, which is great, but I might say that Boy Meets Girl was too neat. In this episode, we've got our end-of-arc kiss, but also Maya's cliffhanger/uncertainty/lack of completion. We've also got ongoing threads to look forward to, like Farkle's continued quest for love, and everything with Shawn. (And threads we're not looking forward to, like the inevitable recurrence of Hell Queen Ava.) So yeah, a completed arc, an incomplete arc, background stories to look forward to, it's a skillful execution from an experienced showrunner.

So, it's been brought to my attention that the finale "Girl Meets What the What" is not a true cross-over, but simply features the actress who plays Jessie, as part of a special week of shows that cross over actors and not characters. Sorry for the confusion. This presumably means, then, that Rowan Blanchard and/or Sabrina Carpenter will wind up on some other Disney Channel show. Might be worth a watch.

It's funny, you're right that "Boy Meets Girl" does feel like the finale, even though it's not. BMW has a few of those actually. I often think of "The Happiest Show on Earth", for instance, as being the Season 3 finale what with the finale-like reunion of Copanga and being on-location, but the (superior) Brother/Brother is. But yeah, I almost think "I Dream of Feeny" as a finale may have been included because, as I recall, the show was in danger of cancellation in the first season, and "I Dream of Feeny" may have served as a more effective series finale at that point, as Cory and Feeny's dynamic was the crux of the show in Season 1. 

Anyway, as for this, yeah, it does sort of bring a Lucas/Riley arc to a close. I almost wonder... what took them so long? They've clearly liked each other all year, he's already ridden off with her on a white horse, why stall? Still, at least that's over with. Even in this episode, though, the only person Lucas shared any chemistry with was Maya. I'm sort of at the point where I think, even if the writers are aware of it, they're not going to course correct and will just keep on keepin' on with Riley/Lucas to avoid the ugliness that might come out of a situation where Lucas wants to be with Maya instead. But I'd, personally, like to see such ugliness. Boy Meets World never did an honest-to-god "Cory and Shawn like the same girl" storyline - every time you thought they were, it would turn out not to be that. And it's a thing best friends go through, and it's tricky as hell for all involved. I'd like to see that. 

What are your Maya/Lucas thoughts, since this is the first time we have you to weigh in on it? My basic thought process is that it's the best use of Lucas if we have to have him, but I'd still rather we just didn't have him.

I guess I didn't see the Maya/Josh switch as being so drastic. I mean, she was sad, like anyone would be if their crush with someone else. But she didn't seem unduly devastated, and it didn't seem to be out of line with their previous interactions in which Josh's rejection of her wasn't ever about there being someone else he was interested in. Take it from a guy who just got dumped last weekend, it feels nicer when they tell you it's for personal reasons not having to do with there being someone else, even if I know that odds are there probably is. Ignorance is bliss! Sometimes you don't know how much something sucks until you see it. 

Oh, I didn't talk about the Auggie/Ava wedding story. I guess because I sort of forgot about it. Um... it... sure did happen. But yeah, no one cares. Ava is just something for Topanga and Auggie to do. I'm sure not into it. I've heard she's back in Season 2, which... why? I feel like it's time to Morganify Auggie. Use him when necessary in a story about Riley or Cory, otherwise just have him sitting there during dinner scenes. No more stories of his own. 

Any final thoughts? What kind of rating system are you going to use for these? 

I absolutely meant to say something about Maya/Lucas, but somehow that slipped through the cracks. I'm completely on board. The only time Lucas isn't cardboard is when he's trading insults with Maya. I'm sure the writers are aware of it, but they're probably too scared to actually do anything about it. If anything it'll be a rehash of Hogs and Kisses, which... might not actually be bad, since Riley's concerns would be justified.

I think I'm all set for this episode. Ratings are tricky. I guess I have to stop and wonder what our goal is with ratings. At the end of the day, it literally does not matter if the content is terrible or amazing, I'm still going to watch every episode, you're still going to watch every episode, and probably everyone reading this is going to as well. So if we can't influence viewership, what can we influence? I think rewatchability is a good one. So I say you keep your old rating system, and then we add to the bottom of it whether we each think the episode is worth watching again in the future. This episode gets a "no" from me on that. Nothing this season has really hit that mark for me, except maybe the scenes with Shawn, but that's basically cheating.

Episode Rating: B
Episode MVP: Rowan Blanchard (but solid showings from Sabrina and Danielle)
Would I rewatch? Probably not. 

Alright guys! So ends our first conversational review. What did you all think? I think it turned out pretty well. There's not a new episode until April 17th, but in the meantime I think we may try to do different topics weekly(ish) to keep the fun rolling! 

Next time.... we look at the season as a whole and review it accordingly! Seeya there! 

17 comments:

  1. The next episode isn't a crossover with Jessie, Debby Ryan plays an entirely different character.

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  2. Also just a bit of trivia, the actress who played the college girl was also on Good Luck Charlie for a number of episodes.

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  3. Love this new review format. The conversation works so much better for a show like this. Nice job guys/girls/whatever the case may be.

    As for the finale, I really liked it. I'm officially done with the Ava character. Her schtick is cute 2-3 times at best, but now it's just plain annoying. I hate saying that about a 5 year old's character, but sorry, its the truth. Through Season 1 of Girl Meets World, teacher Cory just hasn't worked as well as I, and probably Mr. Jacobs, had wanted it too. You can't ask him to be Feeny incarnate and Corey Matthews at the same time. They don't mesh. I think from now on it will almost be easier for them to allude to his teaching, rather than show it. Its failed more often than it has worked. Yet, one of my favorite jokes happened in the classroom in this episode when Cory says of Lucas "He's 36!" I know his looking older than the others has been a point of contention for some. Didn't mind overprotective Corey, simply because that's a feeling all dads have, and Cory's is just magnified due to the fact he's, well...Cory.

    Lucas, what are they doing with you? I'm sure Peyton Meyer can act, or they wouldn't have cast him, but they have done him exactly 0 favors with this archetype they are asking him to play. They have never had a guy with no flaws on Disney Channel. I can't remember if this "Disney Prince Platitudes" has ever been a thing. I mean, there have been guys who are nice to a fault, but never a living piece of cardboard that Lucas has been. Its very frustrating, cause I think this Riley/Lucas relationship could be good.

    The kiss was perfect. Short, sweet, and something I can buy coming from kids their age. A little shocked we got this kiss "closure" so soon as Disney is notorious for building to that over the course of multiple seasons. Glad we got it, though.

    No issue with Maya leaving Farkle to sort of console Josh. Maya really didn't consider it a date, despite giving Farkle "84%", and Farkle knew that as well. I'm still interested in how this Maya/Josh thing will play out. Could be fun, or could be hard to watch. We'll see.

    Episode grade: A
    Season 1 grade: B- When this show is good, its really good. When its bad, its hard to want to watch. I can't wait for Season 2, as I think their bad can get better, and their good can become really great.

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    1. Oh, and Episode MVP: Rowan Blanchard, Season MVP: Sabrina Carpenter.

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    2. You're right about the kiss. Every teen-oriented show is notorious for teasing "the main pairing" for millions of years. They could have easily milked WILL RILEY AND LUCAS??? for many more seasons, and I have massive respect for this show for taking the plunge.
      (you're also right about the rest, but I don't have anything to add :P)

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  4. What are you talking about? The next episode ("Girl Meets What the What") is NOT a crossover with Jessie!

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    1. Okay... Sorry.... I was under the impression it was.

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    2. Based on photos and the plot description released so far the episode will unfold like this: Riley and Maya go clothes shopping, where they meet a crooked sales girl named Aubrey (played by Debby Ryan of Jessie) who convinces the girls to spend more than what they originally intended. Then something happens to make them realize they've been had, so they go back to the store and try to ask for a refund by Aubrey won't do anything. Then Evelyn Rand/Crazy Hat Lady (no, seriously, she's in the episode, the photos confirms it) happens to be by and she gives one of those speeches that she gave Farkle to Aubrey about, well, exactly what she said to Farkle in Girl Meets Crazy Hat.

      It pretty much sounds like this is going to combine the awfulness of Flaws with Crazy Hat for a special confluence of mediocrity so I'm not exactly looking forward to the episode. Maybe it'd be more interesting if they gave the Aubrey role to Peyton List who plays the oldest daughter on Jessie instead?

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  5. It was implied in the holiday episode that Josh and Maya have known each other since they were kids (plus the writers said it too).

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  6. In regards to what actors will crossover with other shows, Cory Fogelmanis will be on I Didn't Do It during the same weekend, so unfortunately it won't be Sabrina or Rowan.

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  7. Also, sorry about getting dumped, it sounds like you're taking the experience in stride though!

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  8. Just a couple of quick things since you guys added some more to the discussion. I don't think this is a cut and dry end to the Riley/Lucas arc, just more of a pause for the time being. Hopefully they are pausing it to write the Lucas character in a better fashion. Yet, you can't fake chemistry, and Lucas/Maya have that in spades, and I too would love to see an episode, or two, where they are faced with that scenario. Yet, as noted above, the writers have already forecast how that will end up. Maya would never hurt Riley, intentionally or otherwise, so the tension in a potential Riley/Lucas/Maya triangle would be very short lived.

    Also, in an continuity issue, the college adviser referred to Josh as "junior". Now, not to go into a diatribe about this, but what did that mean? Did she mean "junior, as in somebody younger than her, or in terms of his level in high school. The only reason I bring this up is if its the latter, then we have a weird issue on our hands. Maya is in middle school, and Josh is a junior. That's not just 3 years, that's kinda creepy. The writers on Twitter today told a fan to ignore the continuity problem. Should we ignore it, or should the writers address it?

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    1. I think it was just a play on words since she's a college junior. Also if he's just 17 he could be a high school junior himself but still scouting college campuses.

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  9. From what I saw, when Riley went to comfort Maya, Farkle was smiling. He doesn't mind that Maya left him. Not really. Because he doesn't care about Maya. He doesn't care about Riley. He cares about Maya AND Riley. You've talked about him just hitting on them and you seemed to talk about it as a bad thing. But I don't think so. He's known Riley and Maya all his life too. You've got Minkus, who just wants to be with Topanga no matter what. And then you've got Farkle, who just wants Maya and Riley to be happy. I think he wants to have a friendship like they do. If Riley dated Lucas and Maya dated Josh, he'd be happy for them. He'd be upset, sure, but he'd be happy for them. Farkle's my favourite character this season I think.

    And Auggie. I like Auggie. He's not like season 1 Morgan. Season 1 Morgan shouted a lot (no offence Morgan). But Auggie's shown himself to be smart. And caring. And I mean the Ava thing is annoying, but he wants what they have. Cory and Topanga. Plus, they might actually make Ava a more likeable character (at least to me) if they bring more of her mum in. That's the reason she is the way she is. And one day, she'll be a better person.

    Also, Topanga missed one of the most important events in her son's life. :)

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  10. literally will friedleNovember 3, 2016 at 12:54 AM

    I got through the rest of season one a couple days ago but I've been busy listening to the extended theme on repeat ~17 hours a day <_< a friend of mine and I are going to cover it, assuming he records the vocals (I PLAY A SHITLOAD OF INSTRUMENTS YOU GUYS), so I've been learning it (well, I recorded everything in an afternoon because it's super simple, but IT'S SO GOOD) and whatever

    anyway

    Ava is the fucking worst. I get that they think her singing "AAAAAAVVVVVVAAAAAAAA MOOOOOORRRRRRRRGEEEENSTEEEEEERRRRNNNN" is like a catchphrase or some shit, but it's annoying. Just please, please stop. Tell me she's gone in season 2 ;_;

    Anyway, so much of this episode was...eh. I don't like the Josh plot, mostly because I just find him annoying. that fucking HAT was awful anyway whatever josh sucks

    lucas is a non-character so i don't really care about him and riley, but at least they didn't tease it for a few years. it's not quite a newsradio thing (IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN NEWSRADIO GO WATCH IT NOW IT'S AMAZING) but it was decent

    The Belgium joke was pretty dece <_<

    Last remark: whoever did Maya's hair for her non-date with Farkle did a terrible job. Like, Sabrina Carpenter is a beautiful young woman <_< (it's less creepy now that she's almost 18! alright it's creepy sorry) but her hair looked weird >_>

    anyway topanga is getting better also so yeah

    this was a terrible comment i'm so sorry

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