Friday, January 8, 2016

Episode Review: "Girl Meets STEM" (#2.26)

Hey chaps! Welcome back! Have a good break? I did! Much fun and merriment and holidays and friends and parties and, most importantly of all, I received a PlayStation 4! Much Fallout 4 has been had.

But now, to business. So, I'm going to be honest, I'd never heard of this term 'STEM' before this episode. In school, I tended to get excellent grades in English and History, but pretty mediocre grades in Math and Science. I actually haven't taken a math class since junior year of high school I don't think. I went to art school. I was generally aware of the stereotype that boys were better at the sciences and girls were better at the humanities, and it kind of seemed to track and it never really struck me as super sexist just because neither of those seemed any inherently 'better' than the other. 

And my first instinct in this episode was to kind of take issue with the premise based on the partners we were shown. Farkle was paired with Riley, and Lucas was paired with Maya. Based on those pairings if, for some reason, they were given the preposterous assignment of "One person simply drops a marble, the other figures out everything." rather than just being told to work on it together... it kind of makes sense that Riley and Maya would be the dropper. That's how I'd divvy out those roles. Maya's horrible at school and doesn't try, Lucas is pretty good in school, Lucas would be the one doing the work. Riley's very good in school, but Farkle's, like, a scientific genius, so of course he would be the one doing the work if only one of them could. It's not that men are better than women in science, necessarily, just that Lucas and Farkle are better than Maya and Riley, respectively. And, if they weren't given this exaggerated assignment, I'm sure Farkle would have been more than happy to have Riley help (Lucas likely would have tried to illicit Maya's help to no avail)

Zay and Sarah paired up takes some of the credence away from that. Zay's kind of an idiot, and got all Ds and Fs at his last school. We don't really know anything about Sarah, but she's got glasses, so, she's bound to be smarter than Zay. But Zay's not a very well-drawn character, and it's possible they don't remember that anymore. 

What I would have done instead is probably put Lucas and Riley together. Both are established as being good in school, but not geniuses. So if Lucas just naturally assumed he would do the science (especially since if I had to choose one as being the more scholastically inclined, I'd choose Riley) then that would smack of sexism to me. I'm not saying they didn't still demonstrate sexism (I mean, it being straight-up every girl who dropped the marble does make it clear, even if it's a little tough to swallow) but I would have felt it more. It didn't feel sexist to me for Farkle to assume he's doing it.  

But, I'm very willing to hear other takes on the matter. 

As for the episode itself, it wasn't great. The assignment was so absurd that I knew it was going to be a Cory-esque lesson. So it felt like a lot of stalling until we got there. Really not much happened here, and so much of the middle with whatever the hell that sacrificing Yogi shit was felt like nonsense. Also, we thought Cory couldn't keep control of his class? Cory's fucking Feeny compared to Norton. There were explosions going off, things overflowing, kids were about to sacrifice one of their classmates, all while Norton was in the goddamn room.

It also just wasn't a particularly funny episode in general. I don't think I chuckled once. It wasn't in-your-face offensively unfunny or anything, but... it just wasn't funny.

I liked the Topanga/Auggie/Ava subplot a little more. While I'm not sure how I feel about Topanga being so callously unsupportive of Auggie because he did poorly in a soccer game (or maybe it brought back a little too many memories of my own father...) it is in character for her to be really competitive and not be in favor of under-achievers getting the same accolades as over-achievers. 

I think they dropped the ball with how they ended though. It's an interesting commentary on today's culture that Auggie could think he's doing fine and doesn't need to bother trying because every kid got a trophy so what's it matter? Kids are absolutely too coddled these days in certain respects, and this is one of them. 

But they ended with Auggie simply scoring a goal on Ava in the living room as if... that cleared that matter up. I would have, instead, liked Auggie to learn a valuable lesson about trying and achievement and why it's important to do your best. 

I think that's all I got for now.

Episode Rating: C-
Episode MVP: Rowan, I guess, I dunno. 

That's wild that you haven't heard "STEM" before. I've heard that, like, Ulysses is unreadable. That's sort of analogous right? 

Allow me to state my absolute disgust at making Norton into another puppetmaster. This was a perfect opportunity to get away from the Cory-style lesson that we all despise, but this was not an improvement in any way. They may as well have had Cory substitute-teach that class for the day. 

On the other hand, I believe the episode's heart was in the right place. The line that really resonated with me came from Norton, "Don't get disinterested." Or "don't lose interest," something like that, I don't want to go back and check. the point is, the target audience are at the age where it's cool and expected not to care about school, in particular the "nerdy" subjects. So I like this idea of smacking the kids in the face saying "Hey, this stuff is awesome, don't lose interest." Unfortunately, that theme didn't get the focus it deserved. Instead, the sexism/feminism topics got most of the attention. It felt really shoehorned in, most likely by Rowan. And look, I am completely on board with Rowan's agenda. There are very real barriers to entry for women in STEM fields. I have very close female friends with physics degrees and I've heard all about it. It is a real issue that deserves attention. But not for eighth graders. This is not a middle school issue. The people who need to hear this stuff are not watching Girl Meets World. The people watching GMW do need to hear "don't lose interest."

And that says nothing about the actual execution of those themes. Like Christian said, the experiment was nonsense, it should have been Riley with Lucas. All Riley had to say was "Farkle you already know this stuff, I want to learn science so let me do it." And it would have been over. Farkle and Lucas didn't make decisions based on gender, they made them based on wanting to get the shit done. But fine, even if the sexism aspect were set up properly, the ultimate implementation was completely garbled! "We are intelligent female scientists who deserve respect and equality, now please excuse us while we SACRIFICE YOGI." How can I take you seriously?! Your argument is that I should be taking female scientists seriously WHILE THEY'RE LIGHTING SHIT ON FIRE AND SACRIFICING YOGI?? It's like they had two completely different scripts for this episode and started flipping a coin to copy paste dialogue from each script into the final draft.  

It was a mess. We all knew it would be a mess, it could have been worse, but it was definitely a mess. I would never point to this and say "This is how you should treat women in science," and a lot of that comes from the fact that you can't address such a complicated and mature issue with a bunch of eighth graders. The only thing to take away from this episode is "Don't lose interest," but like I said it wasn't the main focus. 

Auggie's story was forgettable. He felt like a strawman, set up for Ava to tear down as a surrogate for Jacobs himself, "Why does he get the same trophy!?" I have never even heard of any sports league having the same trophy as a participation trophy. I'm willing to accept that they exist, but from where I'm standing, it doesn't quite sound like the epidemic Ava and Jacobs think it is.

It gets a C from me. Christian and I haven't talked about this one with each other yet, so be sure to check back here for more conversation updates on this post.

Sorry, should have updated before now. 

When I did sports back in elementary school, we all got the same kind of, like, participation ribbons which would look the same as a first place ribbon. Or, like, they'd give you some sort of pity award. Like I remember once for soccer in third grade or something (I was one of the handful kids who'd kind of stand around looking up at the clouds and not notice when the ball went by them) I got "Outstanding Goalkeeper", but I was pretty sure I'd never been goalie, even back then. But they had to give me something. So there was a lot of that kind of stuff. I was given lots of pity accolades in sports, actually. I was always aware it was a crock of shit, so it didn't make me feel good like Auggie. But, then, I also didn't really care either, I was there because I had to be.

So, basically, yeah, I think this is really a thing. And I think it's probably a bad idea. I was beyond saving, but other kids probably had a chance.

My main reason for responding was my uncomfortableness with the quickness with which a feminist message in this episode is dismissed as having been Rowan's misguided idea. You even did it, though you made it clear you had no problem with Rowan's so-called agenda, and I know that's true. But I don't even like this idea that she's this... Machiavellian figure with this agenda that she's making a priority above making this show, because I see no evidence of it. But nonetheless the narrative exists amongst the GMW fandom that Rowan's this militant figure with regards to feminism, which isn't fair for a number of reasons. One, she hasn't struck me as a militant anything. Secondly, being an ardent feminist isn't something that should be seen as militant. I have very little respect for people who don't identify as feminists. It simply means you believe men and women should have equal rights. If you don't agree with that, you probably shouldn't be here because I don't want you here. 

And I mean, to begin with, I think we're overplaying the amount of creative input Rowan Blanchard has on this series. And I certainly hope there are writers and producers of this series who would identify as feminists as well and thus a feminist message in an episode wouldn't necessarily have to come to Rowan - nor would it be more likely to come from her as a result of it feeling poorly handled. As always, Rowan is getting ripped on some message boards after this episode and "blamed" as if she wrote it or had anything to do with it other than doing her job and delivering her lines. I'm not sure who all these ardent horrible conservative Disney Channel tween sitcom watchers are, but they're out there and they hate her. 

Yeah that's fair. I don't know, who knows. Didn't Rider have input on Shawn's random bouts of artfulness? 

Did you end up watching this a second time? I think it deserves more discussion than we're giving it but we're both reluctant to look at it again. When are we going to get another good episode? I want to like this show again but I'm so bored. This one was definitely more palatable than New Years though. It's... back to the familiar formula, right, the "Close to being like Boy Meets World but the execution was bad and the teacher was Littlefinger," rather than Meets New Years, which was "A shitty Disney show." 

Someone mentioned in the comments that they loved Maya in this episode and I have to disagree. I do agree that this was better than emotional doe eyed in-love-with-Lucas Maya we've seen recently. Buuuuuuuuuut 99% of her lines were some variation on "lol I don't like science" and then the crowd goes wild. I get that they were setting her up as "the one who changes her mind" about science, but I didn't buy it at all. What exactly didn't she like about science at the start? What does she like about other subjects? Was she unaware that fire was involved in science before now? Why did she want to sacrifice Yogi? She had a lot of potential here to learn something valuable from Riley but all she did was whine and complain.

I didn't watch it a second time. You're right, we are in bad need of a good episode. The last good one was Texas 1, but that sort of gets ruined by the Texas trilogy ultimately ending on a pretty terrible note. Before that, the last objectively good episode was probably, like, Semi-Formal or something. Ever since then, this season's been more or less terrible. Season 2 was majorly front-loaded, all of its best stuff was at the beginning. The second half has been a travesty. Putting all its Shawn and Eric episodes in the the first 10-12 episodes was a mistake, it really should have been spread out. I haven't been excited about an episode in forever.


  1. If they had gone with the Lucas/Riley, Maya/Farkle pairings, there would be no episode. Yeah, there may have been a moment where Lucas made an assumption that Riley would drop the marble, but if she said she wanted to do the science, he 100% would've let her and then she wouldn't have been there after school to realize that every pairing sent the girl. And I don't think Farkle would've been able to motivate Maya to even drop the marble. So I do think that the Riley/Farkle pairing was necessary for the growth of the characters. I'm still convinced that Riley/Farkle (and Maya/Lucas, what with the whole "I can't see you," "Yeah, all this stuff is in the way" exchange) is the ultimate endgame and the love triangle is just a way of hiding it, but we'll see.

    1. I've always thought Riley would end up with Farkle and this episode solidified my views. I think they have amazing chemistry and make the cutest couple. Plus, they actually challenge each other. Lucas is such a boring one dimensional character,e has no flaws. I dont understand why anyone ever thought he'd be a good match for Riley. But I personally think Lucas was just a first crush for Riley and the writers have always intended her to end up with Farkle. Great writing if you ask me.

    2. The only time I like Lucas is when he's with Maya. She brings out something resembling a personality in him and he knows how to challenge her without pushing her (eg with all the religion stuff in Belief). Riley/Lucas is so bleh to me. My favourite by far is Riley/Farkle, though. They pretty much emulate the 'people change people' philosophy the writers are obsessed with and I hope they actually go for it instead of taking the easy route and forcing Riley/Lucas back together.

  2. I feel like one of the most important points in the episode that you guys may have missed was when the girls identified themselves as feminists. The point of this episode wasn't really to show how to treat women in science. It was to teach kids about feminism. Before the resolution, it was like the writers were trying to portray what our culture would refer to as "femi-nazis" or radical feminists with the whole sacrificing Yogi ordeal. At the end of the episode, however, the kids seemed to realize that the feminism that the writers and Rowan are talking about is forcused more on equality than anything else. This episode was to introduce this concept of feminism to kids and it's a concept that has so much stigma and taboo today. It was meant to remind girls that they should stay interested and not be discouraged by the society around them. Feminism is something that isn't exactly taught at a young age and a concept that isn't named or discussed in other shows and I applaud the writers for doing so.

    1. The new Degrassi did it better, though- if that was the goal.

  3. Okay...full disclosure. My politics don't line up with this. I won't really get into details. That's all I'll say on the matter.

    This episode The out-of-order airdate does not help matters. This takes place before "Texas," supposedly, and was actually filmed only a couple episodes after "Farkle." Frankly, I think it has to be set before "Farkle," mostly because Isadora Smackle's name was never mentioned.

    So, Riley likes science and figuring things out all of a sudden. And it’s out of nowhere. Where does this seem familiar? I know I’ve seen this before…

    Oh yeah! Boy Meets World Reviewed! Hey Sean, look! It’s your old Hat of Hobbies! Back on the old blog, whenever Cory or Shawn would develop an interest in something all of a sudden, it’d be like they’d chosen a hobby at random. Cory had film; Shawn had photography. Riley has science.

    Okay…I think the set-up is…iffy. Forget the idea of boy-girl teams for a minute. Suppose Riley and Maya or Farkle and Zay had been a team. Maya’s lazy as sin, and Zay’s no Athlete Scholar. It doesn't take a genius to figure out who would do the work. The entire premise requires that there be an even number of boys and girls in a class. I get that it’s Rule of TV.
    To be fair, Shipping Wars and I went to a prep school, with no fewer than two Feenys and more than a few Turners. And our chemistry teacher was a woman. So, I have my own biases in my experiences.

    So with that in mind, I agree with Christian and Sean. The set-up is too precise. That being said, when Maya dropped her marble in playing basketball, I thought of Cory and Topanga and Laundry Basketball. There's not much to say--this was pretty paint by numbers for the first act.

    I wasn't a fan of Topanga in the A-plot. She seemed to be...a little too on-the-nose. I think the problem is that she said they needed to do the work...and then the girls didn't do much work. Compare the boys' analysis to Maya the Pyromaniac and Sarah and Jade and Darby playing Mad Scientist.

    The Cory CLassroom scene reminded me of the one in "Crazy Hat," with Cory's lesson having nothing whatsoever to do with their personal lives. First Battle of Panipat...a war between Babur and the Lodi Empire in 1526. Has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with feminism or STEM or women’s suffrage. Or Riley or Maya or Lucas. Frankly, this is one of the most obscure things a middle school teacher would ever be teaching.

    1. Part 2:
      The scene where the two groups were split was pretty bad...and it definitely didn't help their argument that the girls went off the rails. Unless that was actually the point--the girls had become so obsessed with the us-versus-them, which they had completely initiated, that they lost their direction. But seeing as Mr. Norton apparently doesn't have any teeth in his authority, that might be looking too much into it.

      So the scene at the Bay Window…I agree with the essential lesson, that science and math should be universal. And that a world where somebody thinks they SHOULDN’T do something is dangerous. And unlimited potential is nice enough. We certainly shouldn’t just write off subjects we’re not interested in. I can respect that. But I don't think I want to spread the message that there should be a quota in everything. Now I'm not saying that they did, but that's often something that gets brought up with talk of equality. I don't like quotas very much.

      So the tag scene...apparently Cory and Norton are rather chummy. Fun, but all i can think of is the Jonathan Turner of "Me and Mr. Joad" who lit into Cory and Shawn for throwing a tantrum and leading a student protest.

      There’s a couple of real problems with this episode. The most damning problem is that Riley does not apologize to Farkle at all. She sabotaged the experiment out of spite, deliberately risked failure before it was revealed that Norton was a Puppetmaster, was outright cruel, and called Farkle a sexist pig, which he clearly wasn’t. He was just being a report hog, which has been established as a habit of his as far back as “Crazy Hat.” But Riley doesn’t apologize to someone she insulted; someone who next to Maya, can fairly be called her closest friend.

      Grade: I’m honestly not sure guys. This wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. God knows it could have been exponentially worse. I cannot in good conscience give any episode with Ava an ‘A.’ And really, Riley not apologizing to Farkle is also rough. But this episode was not bad enough, in my view, to be a ‘C.’ I’m really beginning to miss those badges Sean used to give out.

      Awesome Scene of Awesome: Nothing was really awesome here.

      There really should have been a scene where Riley and Farkle reconcile on screen. I think I would have set up the Second Bay Window scene that way. Put Maya the Pyromaniac in detention (Heck, if some kid had pulled that stunt at the Cryptid-Shipping High School, they'd be expelled. But TV) and then have Riley and Farkle apologize to each other.

    2. I forgot about Auggie and Ava.

      Auggie and Ava. I will never, ever support storylines with this. God knows I despise and detest participation trophies, but this feels wrong. Maybe it’s because I think that Ava takes up too much of Topanga’s screen-time, maybe it’s because I think Ava’s too mean to Auggie (Really, this storyline would have been nipped in the bud if the situation was reversed), or maybe it’s because this B-plot didn’t really seem to fit the A-plot. “Get back up and never get up,” seems to be better suited to have been “Rah Rah.”

      That's all I really have to say on the matter. Looking forward to what Milestones has to say though. And Tim, too.

    3. I'm tempted to disagree with you but I actually think your assessment of the grade was pretty good. Maybe it's just because you only talked about the things that bother you. I'm curious what your politics are on this because I really don't see how this episode could have been offensive

    4. My politics, I'd prefer to keep private for the moment, though I have to admit they shaped my opinions on this episode. To keep this as non-partisan as possible--I dislike pandering.

      A lot bothered me, but not much actually made me actively angry.

      There wasn't much here to like--although I agree with the lessons, the execution left a lot to be desired. And I hate how Ava takes up so much of Topanga's screen-time.

      That being said--it could have been worse. It could have been a lot worse.

    5. I actually loved the Auggie Ava story. Probably my favorite Auggie sub plot of the show, surprised to see all the hate it's gotten. I feel like Topanga did her part perfectly for this little story. She validated what Ava was complaining about. "You have to try, or how will you get better?"And like Christian said, it was perfectly in character for Topanga. I disagree with Christian though that it had a bad ending. The point of him scoring the goal was that he was pushed to try and practice and as a result he became a better soccer player. He tried, and therefore he got better. Giving every kid the same trophy doesn't motivate them to try. I think that was the point they were getting at.

    6. Hey Cryptid, I’m not even sure what to say about this one. Give it a Season 2 Participant Award? Regret my failure to sufficiently lower my expectations?

      I didn’t hate it the way I hate Fish. I wasn’t angry with it the way I was with Belief. I just got almost nothing out of watching it.

      I was good at science. But, if offered the choice between dropping a marble or doing all the work, I would have dropped the marbled without thinking twice. They should have paired Maya and Zay and have them fight over the marble. But that would have undercut the gender dynamic they wanted to establish.

    7. Hi Milestones, it's good to hear from you.

      I wasn't the best at science--I loved zoology as a kid, and still do, but I learned in the eleventh grade that I had no particular passion in how an animal worked on a micro level, as opposed to how it interacted in its environment. My anatomy class saw an abrupt end to my interest in veterinary medicine.

    8. Yeah it's probably best your politics stay private here. If I read them and they do in fact conflict with the heart of this episode, I would be unhappy with you.

    9. I dislike pandering and quotas, I'll leave it at that.

      I would be very upset if you or Christian were unhappy with me, Sean. I loved reading your original blog, and I love being a part of this community.

      I don't disagree that this episode had a good heart, but the execution just didn't do it for me.

    10. Easy to dislike quotas when your race and gender is over-represented, tbh.

  4. Solid start guys. I'm looking forward to see what Sean says about Sarah.

    Thank God for this blog. Reddit hated it and IMDB has turned into an anti-Rowan circlejerk again. God forbid someone has another opinion. Hooray.

    That said, I didn't love it. I didn't hate it though. It needed a couple rewrites.

    I agree-make Lucas and Riley partners or some other kid. I predicted that the teacher would be old fashioned. Seeing that he's done this for 35 years? I like that because it would have been very easy to make an older, male teacher the bad guy.

    I would have added a 20 second montage of Farkle doing the majority of the work throughout the semester and Riley getting more irritated with being "the assistant." That would have added to Riley's growing irritation.

    Norton? I liked him, but yeah, where the fuck was he during the eruption scene?

    Regarding the issue of girls in STEM? Very important message that I felt Norton handled well but Riley didn't. And that's the point. Riley wasn't told to drop the marble because she's a girl. She doesn't realize that at first. It's important that girls know they can do STEM fields.

    I've seen a lot of hate for the sexist pig line...that was tongue in cheek. Re-watch the scene. Farkle wasn't mad and it was after Farkle apologized.

    Compared to Meets Belief though, this was excellent.

    I've also realized that I don't hate Auggie. I just hate little kids in general. 4 years in retail will do that to you.

    Grade: C+
    MVP: Eh, nobody really stood out.

    1. I deliberately avoided talking about Sarah. I don't like to be predictable :P

    2. But she had lines! That's what i'm here for

  5. Was rather optimistic about this one for the first 8-10 minutes - I thought the writing had a particular edge to it (loved how Rowan and specifically Sabrina approached the script), loved the influx of a new set and thought that Rider/Shiloh were really enhancing those first two with excellent and interesting direction. However, the story just totally fell off in the back half and although the sharpness remained somewhat present, it just could not sustain.

    Have yet to re-watch, but the biggest issue from a plotting perspective was without question that Farkle's apology mid-way through. Granted, it is within character for Farkle to feel bad about disrespecting a friend, however it would have been equally within character for him to be somewhat oblivious to Riley's feelings (in a humorously ambivalent way) and really give the episode some higher stakes, and hopefully a few different turns, as we closed in on the home stretch.

    I also,surprisingly, didn't mind the Auggie/Ava B-plot, just, as usual, thought it took up a little too much time with jokes that didn't land. I think the message could have been tinkered with a bit as well, but I didn't dislike it at its core, just would have liked it to speed along a bit. Also, to be fair, I will say that with the little one starting to get a bit older, if used right (and sparingly) I think there could be some value to injecting them into stories in season three and beyond. They were not completely unbearable here for me and any issues I did have with what they did was more on the writers not knowing when the right time to close out a scene is.

    The desks being split-up in the classroom felt like it almost could have been a real staple of the episode, as opposed to just being a moving part to make time for that ridiculous sacrifice exchange. With that said, I was cool with how we wrapped up at the end (I quite liked the bumper between the girls, Cory and the science teacher) and the first half of the episode really does give me hope for what full episodes in S3 can look like. It's a classic take the good with the bad scenario.

    Grade: (Generously,)B-
    MVP: Despite the absurdity of the second half of the show, Sabrina's delivery never once failed her. She was great.

  6. I am on board for the message that we should get rid of this inherent bias against females in STEM subjects, but I think they completely failed in execution.

    #1 - The experiment didn't make any sense. Why would one person do all of the work? I understand that this all a set up for something else, but it still doesn't work. What would the partner do during class? Watch? Kids would immediately question this.

    #2 - The reasons that Lucas and Farkle had the girls do the dropping was not sexist. Maya is lazy, and Farkle is a science genius and would expect to do the work no matter who he was partnered with.

    #3 - None of the boys were sexist, and yet they were portrayed as "the bad guys" by the girls. Farkle being called a sexist pig was ridiculous. Someone can be a feminist without "hating" men. Either have an actual sexist in the episode, or make it clearly about attacking this belief that girls can't do STEM subjects.

    #4 - None of the other girls show an interest in science. Some of the other girls should have been interested in science, but gave way to the boys due to some pressure. It's ridiculous that Riley demands that every girl believe what she believes. "It doesn't matter what you want, you must do it for all womankind."

    #5 - The science teacher is a joke. Why can't they make an attempt to have these teachers teach actual lessons?

    #6 - The sacrificial lamb scene is over the top and ridiculous. I'm not sure what statement was being made there. Shouldn't they have shown the girls actually being good at science? They showed girls being good at soccer, but ignore the science aspect of it.

    #7 - The whole scene we're they're looking through the glass made me want to throw up.

    - The problem with this episode is that they scream that sexism exists and then browbeat the audience that equality is good. I support the message, but it could have been done more subtly and more believably.

    - I did enjoy the part where Yogi was all for being carried around like a doll. It was just so weird

    1. You pretty much nailed it.

    2. Yeah, I thought Yogi was hilarious in this episode ("I don't like that as much as you think I do.") Glad to see all of the established class kids getting something to do/say instead of lingering silently.

  7. Part of the message was that feminism isn't boy vs's an equal partnership. I agree, Farkle would have been the one who wanted to do the science regardless of who his partner was, but if Riley and Lucas had been partnered, once Riley first complained about it, Lucas would have happily dropped the marble and let Riley do the science. Riley was wrong in calling Farkle a sexist pig, but it was the only pairing that would have worked. This episode wasn't about the boys being sexist, and more about the cultural norm of gender roles in society being challenged. Besides Riley, none of the girls wanted to do the science because culture has taught them not to...when given a choice between making a stand and going shoe shopping, the rest all decided to go shoe shopping. In the argument in Cory's class, the boys all thought the girls wanted to do the easy part. If Sarah had shown interest in doing the science, does anyone really think Zay (whose grades were D, D, D, D, F) would have complained? While it is important for girls to be given opportunity in STE(A)M programs, they also have to be encouraged to want to participate in them, and this episode did a good job showing that side.

  8. Do we find out at the end why the marble makes the sludge? I don't think we do, but I might have stopped paying attention. It got me thinking that for a show trying to promote STEM, particularly the science, there isn't any science in the experiment. Well maybe Norton's psychological experiment, but nothing the characters in the show or the audience watching at home could see.

    Already mentioned it would be better to switch partners, but I think the experiment was flawed to begin with. To me, it should've been a real science experiment done at a middle school that Riley hasn't done, but Farkle did on his own when he was much younger. He knows how to do it and wants to just get it done with while Riley wants to learn it and actually do it.

    1. Having an experiment Farkle knows inside and out already?

      That might be the best idea I've heard that should have been in this episode.

    2. The marble was dirt..when added to water it made mud. Nothing special. The experiment wasn't about the marble, it was about gender roles in society. In a real school, this would never have been in a science class, it would have been part of a sociology class. But as Mr. Norton said at the end, this school is all messed up. If you are looking for real class lessons which deal with what the class is supposed to teach, this is the wrong show for you. All the classes are a backdrop for whatever lesson that week's episode is about.

    3. That's a very good idea--better than anything I could come up with. Heck, with that plot, you could even have Farkle resentful about being assigned an "easy" experiment that Riley's excited about.

      Ben Sandwich should be a writer.

    4. That's my point, this episode wasn't about STEM and didn't enourage girls to continue on to STEM. Also if this was about gender roles then call it Girl Meets Gender Roles. If you want middle school girls to stay interested in science fields, then the writers and Jacobs should actually try to make that audience interested in it through the show.

    5. I agree that STEM was just the backdrop for the real lesson of the show. It's not the first time the title of the show had little to do with what the actual episode was about...Belief should have been called Faith, for example. Encouraging girls to have an interest in STEM fields was only a side-effect of the overall lesson, and less well executed than I would have liked.

    6. "it should've been a real science experiment done at a middle school that Riley hasn't done, but Farkle did on his own when he was much younger. He knows how to do it and wants to just get it done with while Riley wants to learn it and actually do it."

      I love this idea. It totally fits with who they are. Farkle is all about getting the grade, while Riley wants to learn the information herself.

    7. "The marble was dirt..when added to water it made mud. Nothing special. The experiment wasn't about the marble, it was about gender roles in society. In a real school, this would never have been in a science class, it would have been part of a sociology class."

      The problem with this idea, is that sociology isn't a course at most middle schools or high schools as far as I know. It is a legitimate experiment, but it's one that the teacher is conducting with human subjects. There's some serious ethical issues involved, but it's TV and I'll let it go because under the normal course of the experiment no was ever in danger.

    8. We actually did have sociology at my high school but yeah it's not really a middle school thing.

  9. Hey guys, this has been at the back of my mind ever since I saw the leaked episode.

    I looked up "Wake Up Little Cory" on Youtube. I was thinking of episodes of the original show that tackled feminism, or to be more precise, gender roles, as a plot point. Only two came to mind--"Wake Up Little Cory" and "Chick Like Me."

    I think what made these episodes better was that rather than be microcosms of the issues as a whole, they kept the conflicts a bit more self-contained. In the first episode, while Topanga was shamed by the entire school, her beef was primarily directed at Cory. In the second episode, rather than try to teach EVERYONE about personal space and boundaries, we really only saw Shawn's journey. And I think it worked better that way.

    Those were two of my favorite of Sean's reviews:

    I could cry looking at how good the old show was.

    1. When I saw the spoilers months ago about Maya falling asleep on Lucas' arm, I thought about "Wake Up Little Cory", but figured they wouldn't do the exact same story. I agree about BMW doing a better job tackling issues, but I think they had more freedom being a prime-time show on a major network. GMW has to cater to the perceived Disney Channel audience of young kids, but even so they've done a decent job...much better than any other show on Disney. Add to that, GMW has a male creator trying to write things from a female perspective...even with female writers on the staff, it still has to go through what Michael Jacobs sees.

    2. To date, Wake Up Little Cory is my favourite BMW episode. I'm holding off on reading Sean's blog until I complete the cycle, and I'm still early in Season 3, having stopped for the holiday season.

    3. I love "Wake Up Little Cory" and Sean's review of it! I was six when that episode aired and I probably didn't fully get it but I understood that Cory told a lie about Topanga that ruined her reputation. I specifically remember thinking after Topanga confronted Cory in his kitchen, "Wow, Topanga is the most confident and secure teenage girl I've ever seen on TV. I hope I'm like that when I'm a teenager."

      That's the Topanga I really wanted and expected to see as the mother of a teenage daughter. I keep hoping for Riley/Topanga scenes where Topanga helps and guides Riley through her challenges (not that she's had very many challenges thus far...) and teaches her to be a strong, independent woman who knows what she's worth and what she deserves. I feel like Topanga could have been an integral part of an episode dealing with feminism and gender equality.

      I've had major Topanga issues for awhile guys. She wasn't too bad this episode but thanks for letting me vent for a moment.

      (From, IHeartGriff)

    4. IHeartGriff! You're home! *Embraces IHeartGriff through the computer screen*

      I'm glad you mentioned Topanga and her role in this show. It's something that's bothered me for a long time and I only recently figured out why.

      In the first season of Boy Meets World, the most important person in Cory's life that challenged him and made him grow was Mr. Feeny. And the most important person on a regular day-to-day basis, the one who guided him, in Season One, was probably Alan, his father.

      The most important person in Riley's life that challenges her and makes her grow? In Season One, I'd say Lucas. On a regular, day-to-day basis, it's probably Maya.

      For Boy Meets World, the story was that the most important figure in a boy's life was his father. And even when Amy and Alan went on the back burner as characters, Alan's role as one of Cory's pillars was still apparent up until the college years.

      I really wish we could say the same for Topanga. The most important person in Riley's life should, ideally, be her mother.

    5. Thank you! I agree with you. It seems like Riley doesn't need Topanga because she has all of her big talks and moments with Maya. But I feel like she can have a best friend and a relationship with her mom. Cory was able to be Shawn's best friend while maintaining a relationship with his father. Cory and Alan had their ups and downs during the series and I think the mother/daughter relationship is just as complex and there's a huge potential for some great story lines for Topanga and Riley.

    6. Right when GMW was just getting started, I remember reading the single best idea for an episode I've ever seen any fan come up with. And Topanga was at the forefront.

      Somebody suggested that Topanga would be the perfect grown-up for a body image episode. It's been a year and a bit, so my memory's pretty fuzzy.

      The basic set-up would be Riley trying to emulate some of the cheerleaders after their comments on her and Maya's less-than-healthy lunches. Cue the dieting and continual exercise and skipping meals. Topanga notices and takes Riley out for a mother-daughter dinner and orders Riley some meaty pasta dish. Riley starts to cry, admitting that she doesn't feel beautiful, and Topanga plays Mom and encourages Riley to love herself first, while also acknowledging the need for a balanced diet.

      That could have been an excellent first season episode.

    7. I think in the original show, they had Topanga mention gender equality in S2; but at that stage in the show, she was a pretty minimalised character.
      Then they seemed to reboot her into a more generic 'Girlfriend' role by S3-4; and aside from her academic success; dropped a lot of her original characterisation.
      The episode in S6 where the guys go to the Hooters style bar, in particular, has her taking a very traditionalist view where she basically says that if men are 'pervs', it's the fault of women 'choosing to wiggle around half naked'; which Original Topanga would never have said.

      Angela is even more thinly characterised, but she takes the opposite tack completely in that episode, which is put down to her being 'sensitive at the moment'.

      Rachel doing the paper on 'male bonding and the effect of women upon it', asking Jack and Eric not to make a fuss over apartment cleanliness because of her, and getting mad because Topanga and Angela let Cory and Shawn act up in the apartment; probably gets the most storylines about gender (albeit one where the lesson is taught by her being The Hot One, rather than ever being given much to do), but BMW was never great on feminism, imho.

      And yeah, some Topanga/Riley scenes would be great.

    8. Slinkhard, as I recall, most of Topanga's activism was in Season One. She was the weird hippie girl, though she was generally portrayed as well-intentioned, apart from a few jokes, mostly on Stuart's expense.

      Aside from "Wake Up Little Cory," there was "Turnaround." Topanga rejected the notion that it should be tradition for the boys to ask the girls to school dances. **Cough cough** Semi-formal **Cough cough**

      She also said immediately afterwards that she couldn't go anyway, since she was going Christmas shopping with Jedidiah in New York City.

      I went back and read Sean's old review of "You're Married; You're Dead." Man, that episode is weak. I hadn't realized you'd been around that long, slinkhard.

      One thing about that report of Rachel's stood out: I read an interesting factoid about male-male friendships, versus female-female friendship. Darned if I can remember where, but I remember reading that males take a longer time to form bonds, but then the bonds tend to be iron-clad. Band of brothers and what not.

  10. Currently a female engineering major, I remember going to my first advanced math class in seventh grade. The ratio must have been 1:4 girls:boys. AND we had three girls drop into a lower level before the end of that year. None of them were targeted for being girls whatsoever, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a clear message walking into that room and seeing that ratio.

    And if it wasn't clear in 7th grade the message sure came across in my first computer class in high school. I walked in on the first day to find I was the ONLY girl in the class of 30 students, no exaggeration. There may as well have been a banner reading "Girls don't do computer science". Yes there were other stupid things boys did that could have deterred me from the class. I once had a guy take a picture of my ass when I stood up to throw something away. And it wasn't easy to find a partner for the pair projects as it was assumed I wouldn't be doing any of the work. But none of that mattered as much as walking in that room the first day and seeing 30 students look up at me like I just walked into the boys locker room.

    I can imagine that's how Riley would have felt walking into the room of marble droppers to see it was ALL GIRLS. Nobody says it and maybe no one even thinks it but the message is still clear. Girls don't do the real science.

    Now the moral of the story wasn't handled perfectly I'll admit. Sean I absolutely loved how you phrased the "don't lose interest" lesson. It was hinted at here but it would've served the writers well to have focused on that a little more. Great catch. However, I think you missed a few of the other good statements that were thrown in there. Topanga had a lot of good stuff to say for sure. But my favorite came from, as it should have, Rowan herself when she says to Maya: "I think if you were a scientist the world would be a scary place. But I think i think it would be a much scarier place if you don't believe you can become one."

    I have to disagree with you Sean that this lesson only applies to adults in the field, and not middle school girls. All the evidence and statistics point to middle school being the major turning point for girls losing interest in the STEM field. In one form or another we all eventually get the message I got walking into my seventh grade math class. Teachers and students DO need to be proactive about reversing this trend and making sure girls know they can be successful in those fields. Of course that all ties back to your message Sean, "Don't lose interest". But in this case its specifically for the girls and I don't have a problem with that.

    1. I hear you. That exchange between Riley and Maya would have been awesome if it weren't for the context. I wanted to be able to take it seriously but it's all so silly when there's pillars of fire and sacrificing Yogi. I believe you when you say that this lesson isn't just for adults, I'm willing to be wrong, but this episode still failed on that front by having the girls use their newfound confidence to sacrifice Yogi. Like I said in the post, the heart is in the right place.

  11. And can I just say the best part of this episode had nothing to do with the moral. I LIKED MAYA AGAIN! Thank the heavens and writers and all involved I actually found her funny and enjoyable again. I have had a major problem with the last, idk, 8 episodes maybe? Whenever the love triangle began consuming the show instead of just being a facet of it. I felt like I was watching a middle school soap opera and any day they were gonna find out Lucas was really Maya's long lost brother or some shit. The show was taking itself wayyyy to seriously. Don’t get me started on New Years. And I don't like watching Maya all tortured and insecure about Lucas. Her return to being likable was enough to merit at least a B from me.

  12. It's so good to be back! Long and eventful break, but its good to be here again. Now, on to the episode.

    First things first, I agree with many of the things Rowan believes. Sometimes, I don't agree with how she goes about doing it, but I'm a fan of what she's trying to do. With that being said...

    This episode is a mess. Not a god-awful mess, but a mess nonetheless. Riley comes across as being divisive for no other reason than to be divisive. This experiment had sexism kind of thrown in, if for no other reason than to get the message across. As stated above, the message should have been more focused on "Don't lose interest", rather than sexism. Because by focusing it on sexism they split the room and kids who we've had either next to no involvement with, and the Core Four w/ Zay. And we know those kids are nothing if not completely committed to each other. To me, it wouldn't matter who you put Riley with, sexism wouldn't be why she didn't get to do the science. Lucas and Farkle have shown, time and again, they would never intentionally hurt Riley like that. On that level. So, this episode, to me, was flawed from the jump. So flawed, that they made Riley almost insufferable to Farkle, that they should have reconciled that a bit better than the cheesy "you can see through the clear" bit they did. And count me as someone who had issue with the "sexist pig" line. Completely unnecessary, and an overreaction on Riley's part.

    Everything else was meh on varying levels. I liked the "participation trophy" B-plot. It actually felt like the only focused part of this episode, and of course Topanga has issues with participation trophies. Still don't like Ava, but this felt right for the character. So, it gets a pass from me. The other thing I really liked was Sarah, and I'm not being tongue in cheek about it. This was the first time she had any extended dialogue, and I think she did fine. She was the character the audience was supposed to look through, in my opinion. And it worked.

    One final thing, this show will never get classrooms or teachers right. Ever. They suck at it, and it shows every week. The closest they've come may have been Harper. So, for next season, I hope they cut back on the classroom time, cause its a detriment to this show thus far.

    Episode Grade: C
    Episode MVP: Rowan Blanchard. She gave a good performance, I just didn't like how the character acted this episode. My runner up is Sarah Carpenter. Liked how she was used, and hope to see more of her.

    1. Nice review, pwfan.

      "So flawed, that they made Riley almost insufferable to Farkle, that they should have reconciled that a bit better than the cheesy "you can see through the clear" bit they did. And count me as someone who had issue with the "sexist pig" line. Completely unnecessary, and an overreaction on Riley's part."

      This. This completely. It was just too mean-spirited. And the reconciliation without an apology on Riley's end rubs me the wrong way. Even when Riley and Maya realized they had gone too far, it wasn't fair that there wasn't a proper apology.

      I think what I'd have done is put Riley and Farkle on the Bay Window in the third act--while also giving Norton some teeth and putting Maya in detention for her pyrotechnics. Riley can apologize for calling Farkle a sexist pig; Farkle could admit that he was being a report hog and that wasn't fair, Riley could go on a second spiel about how Farkle isn't a sexist and then after Farkle gets her to hush up, she smiles and says "You're pretty great, Farkle."

  13. As a recently graduated female engineer I actually think this episode is spot on.

    1) Women absolutely drift away from STEM, and social factors that drive them in that direction definitely start early (Even earlier than middle school). It is absolutely in the right of the science teacher to take one hour and use it to bring attention to this fact so that his future lessons became valuable to the female half of his class as well.

    2) The girls vs. boys element is not extreme at all. We're at a point in time when all gender roles are being re-evaluated and this is leading to some confusion. Many women, as a result, become angry at their predicament and 1) Cry foul at every little thing, 2) Lash out at the men in their lives even when they are not to blame. Many men, in turn, are frustrated because they are getting mixed messages on how men should behave and are constantly getting blamed as a group. Riley was right to notice the consequences of social influence on herself and her female classmates. She initially lashes out at the men in her life for this, but I think the show did a decent job pointing out that she was wrong to do so. In Cory's class the boys responded fantastically to the girls' accusations. Maya DOES fall asleep in class. Farkle DOES want Riley to have an interest in science and apologizes for shutting her out. Not one of these men had sexist intentions and this was obvious. But to me, the best scenario was Zay's situation. His partner was complacent in his suggestion, and if she had expressed a desire to run the experiment to begin with they may have switched. You can't expect others to offer you every opportunity - you have to, at the very least, learn to ask for it yourself. I feel like the show did a decent job not letting all the blame fall squarely on the male characters. And Riley later does acknowledge that she has some great guys in her life and the boys and girls are able to put these boys vs. girls stuff behind them and work together (As they should). All of this said, I would have appreciated an apology from the females to the males for their behavior.

    1. THANK YOU. I was searching for a response like this. The boys all had logical explanations, and all the girls- save for Riley- dropped their marbles and ran off. The class division and the boys' confusion is something that i find plausible, so remove the clumsy classroom set-up and the message is rather ...okay.
      And I'm one of those females that's not in a STEM field- even though my absolute favourite teacher for all five years of high school was my science teacher.

  14. I was all prepared to make a comment along the lines of "it's all right, Sean, you're allowed to like Sarah as much as I like Debby" but sadly I'm wondering if Sean's even noticed Sarah at all this episode. Damn, I should've made that comment back in the last episode.

    I haven't seen the episode yet so all I know of is what's gone on in this very review. Getting people, especially girls, interested in science is very problematic in education, and it's a double-edged sword in the fact that there's real pressure from higher-up and from parents to get girls especially, but literally everyone, interested in STEM subjects, including and up to just about forcing them (or whatever passes as such, as much as you can). When you get down to it it's just no different than what school has always been, except it got inevitably politicized due to a combination of fears that women are being squeezed out of STEM subjects in school (as I just said, it's always been the attitude of education to get everybody interested in everything, at least to my experience - I don't remember anti-female STEM discrimination at all, both as a student and then as a teacher myself) and the fear that the U.S. keeps taking massive steps backwards in comparison to the rest of the world when it comes to the STEM fields (which are critical for financial infrastructure, communication and - let's face it, defense, which is the real reason why certain politicians with major military-industrial complex ties and keep using China and Japan as platform points keep pushing for STEM competitiveness). The end effect is to exaggerate an existing problem - "education" and "STEM" gaps start being fabricated and administration and politicians miss whether or not the problem might be teaching methods (research and experience shows that the good old fashioned science lab experience and participation is highly effective at raising scientific understanding and interest, but it's also expensive) but instead either blame students, teachers or both, and then attempt awkward solutions towards overcoming that blame.

    That, again, just based on your description of the episode, while Mr. (or Mrs.? I really need to actually watch this) Norton's methods might be...odd in real-life context, I guess it does deliver a point.

    These writers really need to be able to deliver points more effectively.

    1. I deliberately avoided mentioning Sarah. I don't like to be predictable :P

  15. As a watcher I got what they were trying to do but the execution of the message of either STEM or Sexism was all over the place. Coincidently I watched an episode of Sister Sister called Show Me the Money. In that episode Tia who worked at a Smoothie joint at the mall and long story short male employees got paid more than the female employees. Her male boss Clark was actually acting very sexist and sarcastic to Tia unlike Farkle or any of the boys who did nothing wrong and were made to be villains for the sake of the lesson. Meanwhile Tia didn't wanna say anything for sake of her job. But by the end of the episode Tia's sister Tamera and their friends try to get Tia rehired after Tamera got her fired. Then Tia comes in and confronts Clark about his sexist ways and does some research about how it's illegal to under pay women less than men. The women that worked there and some of the customers agreed with Tia and Clark realizing he's wrong gives Tia her job back with a raise in pay. The plot maybe different from GMW but Sister Sister does a better job with tackling an issue of equality. If you haven't seen this episode I'm talking about I recommend some of you should check it out and tell me what you think.

  16. I actually thought GMW showed a far more realistic representation of the true barriers to having girls enter STEM. Now days, for the most part, there's no "evil men" standing around and directly telling girls what they can and can't do. If a girl wants to study science in grade school, high school, and university, there are no rules/teachers/classmates that will tell them they can't. I think the girls in GMW realized this when they tried to blame the boys, but ultimately found that their blame couldn't stick and that the guys in their lives were actually really great and supportive. I think they realized that the forces that push girls away from science are more subtle than just a villain and you can't actually put a face on it. I think they realized that countering these forces is as simple as acknowledging that they exists, wanting more for yourself, and raising your voice to ask for it. I appreciate this version of representing barriers for young girls far more than I would appreciate the girls overcoming an evil boy that tries to tell them girls can't do science - That's just too over the top and not realistic anymore.

  17. I think the problem with this episode is that the writers are trying to tackle two very serious topics (STEM and feminism), and they really weren't able to marry the two in a believable context. I agree that women/girls are shown early on the preconceived gender roles of society, but then again, this is a middle school science class. I don't know about your middle schools, but in mine, everyone took the same assigned courses, boys and girls. It was all just under the umbrella term "science" and wasn't differentiated by further categories such as biology, physics, chemistry, etc., so there weren't any electives that the students could choose. Every student had to take those science courses to move on to high school, so there was no gender bias up to that point.

    I think everyone else here has been on the nose with their assertions that the pairings should have been different because this didn't make sense in terms of a sexist approach. None of the guys treated the girls disrespectfully purely because of their sex/gender. If the show wanted to make a more powerful impact in that regard, I would suggest a guest character come in and be forced to be Riley's partner, someone who is blatantly sexist just for the sake of Riley actually having a REAL challenge for a change instead of inventing a conflict with Farkle. If she just would have spoken her feelings to him in the beginning, he probably would have gladly let her "do the science."

    I also believe this would allow Topanga to come in and give Riley more encouragement in a motherly role because I know that's something I agree with many of you on as well. I definitely see more "aww" moments between Cory, Topanga, and Maya than I do with them and their own daughter, which I something I believe I've touched upon before. As a very strong, confident woman who works in a male-dominated career field herself, I feel like this was a severely missed opportunity for her to weave the ideas of STEM and feminism together for Riley.

    My main issue with this episode is that the two subjects just weren't woven together well, and I feel like the writers made somewhat of a farce out of two very important real life issues. The sacrificing Yogi bit is so childish that I feel like they almost are underestimating the intelligence of their audience. Children are going to see this and not understand anything this show was trying to say. I really wish the message "Don't lose interest" was advertised a bit more powerfully because the way this show portrays the girls is not taking them seriously.

    Though I graduated with an art degree, two of my female cousins went to college on science tracts, one at UCLA and one at USC. They both had parents in the same field who encouraged them. I feel Riley needs more encouragement from her parents to develop her own interests, and now that we know science interests her, I would like to see more of the development of that facet of her character.

  18. Surprised you didn't mention Mr. Norton's comment "This school's pretty messed up." at the end of the episode. It seemed quite fitting.

  19. Guys,

    I owe everyone here an apology. My initial comments had an edge to them that, looking at them now, does not make me feel well.

    I let my own experiences tilt my interpretation before the episode even aired. After seeing the promo, I went in expecting to be offended. For the sake of the show itself, this was wrong of me, and worse, I let that spill over into my comments on this blog.

    If I could back and rewrite my comments, I would..

    I owe Christian and Sean apologies in particular. They have set up what can only be called the best of the blogs centered around Girl Meets World. I was abrupt and abrasive, in so doing, I was tainting this environment, and I was wrong to do so. For that, I am truly sorry.

  20. Since 1960's been busy with a move,

    Here is the promo for Money.

    Sweet Jesus, the guy who does the promos needs to be fired.

    1. Mark Cuban...probably owed somebody a favor.

      Is this set after New Year? It's obviously winter.

      Fingers crossed for a Mavericks-Knicks joke.

    2. Cryptid, it is the last episode before Texas in the run I believe. They filmed it in between Texas 2 and 3 because when your guest star has enough money to buy the network you are on, you delay the filming until he is available. I believe that STEM immediately precedes Money in the timeline (whatever passes for a timeline here). The writers told us that the current story arc picks up in Legacy, even though Commonism is next and then Bay Window and final Legacy.

      New tweet yesterday - sorry I'm slacking with this move stuff - living on borrowed Wi-Fi and my laptop

      Girl Meets Writers ‏@GMWWriters Jan 10
      Money, Commonism, then my favorite episode of the season: Girl Meets The Bay Window. Then our season finale, Legacy. Who ends up with Lucas?

    3. Any thoughts on the episode promo? I'm getting strong vibes that remind me of "How to Succeed in Business."

  21. "My main reason for responding was my uncomfortableness with the quickness with which a feminist message in this episode is dismissed as having been Rowan's misguided idea. You even did it, though you made it clear you had no problem with Rowan's so-called agenda, and I know that's true. But I don't even like this idea that she's this... Machiavellian figure with this agenda that she's making a priority above making this show, because I see no evidence of it. But nonetheless the narrative exists amongst the GMW fandom that Rowan's this militant figure with regards to feminism, which isn't fair for a number of reasons. One, she hasn't struck me as a militant anything. Secondly, being an ardent feminist isn't something that should be seen as militant. I have very little respect for people who don't identify as feminists. It simply means you believe men and women should have equal rights. If you don't agree with that, you probably shouldn't be here because I don't want you here. And I mean, to begin with, I think we're overplaying the amount of creative input Rowan Blanchard has on this series. And I certainly hope there are writers and producers of this series who would identify as feminists as well and thus a feminist message in an episode wouldn't necessarily have to come to Rowan - nor would it be more likely to come from her as a result of it feeling poorly handled. As always, Rowan is getting ripped on some message boards after this episode and "blamed" as if she wrote it or had anything to do with it other than doing her job and delivering her lines. I'm not sure who all these ardent horrible conservative Disney Channel tween sitcom watchers are, but they're out there and they hate her."

    Someone with more time than me, track Christian down and give him Reddit gold. 100% fucking spot on. Did Rowan ask for this episode? Perhaps. But actors do this sort of thing all the time. Ben Savage got Vadar to be on Boy Meets World which in hindsight is insane. Did she write the script? Nah, get real. I have never agreed more with something you wrote Christian. I also agree that Season 2's been a big disappointment. The acting's gotten way better so it's easier to watch but the writing's still weak. It's been a while since a genuinely good episode. Other episodes (STEM, Texas 2 and 3) had good stuff hidden beneath garbage. The one episode I wanted to be good, "Forgiveness" tripped at the finish line-and it had a really dumb B plot.

    Season 3 better fucking bring it.

  22. Ratings are in for STEM. Wow, either no one wanted to watch because of the subject matter or more likely viewership was just down across the board that night - but the total was 1.616 million viewers. That is the all time low for a GMW episode. Bunk'd, which premiered a new episode right before STEM got 1.475 million views, which is lower than they normally are as well, though not by as large a percentage.

    The previous low for GMW was 1.85 million for I Am Farkle, which was a pretty decent episode (it was nominated for a Writers Guild award) and the only other time that viewership for a new episode dropped below 2 million. It is possible that the subjects in these 2 episodes, though written for kids in Disney's target demographic (kids 8-14), do not appeal to them. Maybe they would be better off concealing the real thrust of these "social" stories and filling the promos with the lollipops and rainbows that the kids want to see - oh wait, they already do that. With all the social media today there is no way to disguise the plot of an episode enough to draw in kids that are uninterested in it. That's my opinion anyway.

    1. Meant to add this one thought: they wrote an episode telling young girls to not lose interest in STEM subjects because they might find those fields more interesting than they thought, but the girls they were targeting to weren't interested in even watching the episode to hear the lesson. Some Catch-22 there.

    2. I think the dip in ratings are because the show was on hiatus for so long due to the holidays. Maybe no one realized there was a new episode.

    3. It's also filler. It doesn't continue the Lucaya/Rucas story, which helps.

      That's certainly odd. I predict next week will be higher because Mark Cuban is one of the most popular sharks on Shark Tank.

    4. Pwfan, I considered that as well, but last year "Game Night" was the first episode after the holiday break, on the same weekend and it got really good ratings. Truthfully "New Year" didn't get good ratings either. Perhaps the kids that make up the bulk of the audience are tired of the "triangle" as well.

    5. We can't forget that "Game Night" had Uncle Josh. A guest star can attract viewers. Especially one who's supposed to be "cool."

      Unless you count Norton, we didn't have that here.

      Kids may be tired of the triangle, but I can't imagine it's enough to lower numbers that dramatically.

  23. Interesting follow-up discussion, guys. I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch this one again. Nothing to do with its message (of which I approved): it just offered near nothing of what attracts me to the show but still giving me Ava & Auggie, Yogi with speaking lines, and characters behaving uncharacteristically in the service of the plot/lesson. I liked New Years way better than this. I might possibly have liked WOT2 better than this.

    I don’t go around identifying myself as a feminist. By the “believe men and women should have equal rights” standard, and by others too, I am one. But, if I need to regard the stuff that necessitates feminism as being a reality socially constructed by patriarchal power structures, I’m probably not one.

    1. milestones1958-"I don’t go around identifying myself as a feminist. By the “believe men and women should have equal rights” standard, and by others too, I am one." Yes! You may not realize it, but you subscribe to second wave/equity feminism. This is the idea that men and women should have equal rights and opportunity. It's very different from crazy radical social justice warrior feminism that's all about destroying the patriarchy.

    2. Kit—a very belated thanks. Not familiar with that terminology, but it sounds like it might apply.

  24. The feminism issue in this episode was so stupid. You guys covered it but the situation they portrayed with the science experiment is absolutely not an issue in middle school. If a girl wanted to do the experiment and learn, no one would stop her and say, "sorry, no, you're a girl." Also, in real life, boys are not assumed the main role in science experiments like this episode shows. It's just not true. I really could not get into this episode because of it.

    1. I did like the whole concept about the participation trophies though, even if it wasn't executed all that well.

  25. Hi guys. Excellent follow-up, Christian. You're right, on all counts.

    "The last good one was Texas 1, but that sort of gets ruined by the Texas trilogy ultimately ending on a pretty terrible note. Before that, the last objectively good episode was probably, like, Semi-Formal or something. Ever since then, this season's been more or less terrible. Season 2 was majorly front-loaded, all of its best stuff was at the beginning. The second half has been a travesty. Putting all its Shawn and Eric episodes in the the first 10-12 episodes was a mistake, it really should have been spread out. I haven't been excited about an episode in forever."

    This is a very good point; the second half of this season has been hit and miss, due in no small part to an egregious out-of-order airing. I haven't been excited about an episode in a long time either.

    I went back to the Epilogue of Sean's old blog, where he listed his Infinitely Watchable Episodes. The first two seasons had a total of, in Sean's view, thirteen I.W.Es, which was approximately a quarter of the entire run at the time.

    I thought about that and thought about this show. In the last two seasons, and I think six more episodes, we haven't had quite that many. Season One had "Master Plan," "Maya's Mother," and, speaking for myself, "Brother." Season 2 has "Yearbook" and "Semi-formal" and "Pluto," but as of now, that's really about it. There is a lot to be desired.

    1. Hey Cryptid, long stretches of nothing punctuated by mostly lacklustre episodes has done much to normalize my experience of this show—though for someone like me, truly “normal” would be never to have heard of it in the first place let alone to be a viewer.

      I’m still a fan, will watch it for as at long as they make it, and will always return here for as long as Christian and Sean keep this going.

      I watched Season 1 under almost ideal circumstances, in a bunch, already impressed with Pluto and knowing the show was capable of that. I agree with your assessment of the best Season 1 offered and even share your affection for Brother. I still regard Season 2 as better. In addition to the shows you cite, I would put Hurricane, Farkle, and Rileytown in a “best of” list and happily make cases for their inclusion.

      But, yes, GMW hasn’t been as good lately. Still, between the three parts, Texas had material for one fine episode. Bits and pieces of Forgiveness rank with the best stuff the series has given us. I even liked New Year, though not unreservedly. I’m going to give STEM another view too. How did you respond to Season 1 at this same time last year?

      Anyway, my young friend, the annual process by which my job swallows me whole, to spit me out in early May, has begun. It doesn’t happen all at once. But the first casualty is the Saturday mornings I have been spending re-watching and mulling over these episodes. Don’t think I will vanish, but probably won’t pollute these comment threads quite so much for a while.

    2. "I’m going to give STEM another view too. How did you respond to Season 1 at this same time last year?"

      Funnily enough, now that I've had a few days to think on it, I think STEM's not actually that bad, if one watches with the interpretation that the "Sacrifice Yogi" scene is /meant/ to be over-the-top chaotic.

      In regards to Season 1, my outlook was "Where do we go from here"? I wanted change and, frankly, was ready to say good-bye to Lucas. As I've said before, I hold little interest in characters that were introduced to be love interests and only love interests. I also wanted the characters to act more as individuals rather than a collective unit--in Season 1, Riley spent very little one-on-one time with Farkle and very little time with Lucas that didn't have at least a little romantic undertone.

      Looking back on it, I think you're right about "Hurricane" and "Farkle." They're among the better episodes for sure, just not quite so timeless.

    3. Watched again and liked it better. I don’t think I gave it a fair shot first time.

  26. New tweet today

    Girl Meets Writers ‏@GMWWriters · 7 hours ago
    Relationships aside, BMW went to high school and a good show got better. Scripts in, same happening here. More Zay, more Smackle, more Josh.

    I hope they aren't saying the scripts were bad because the kids were in middle school. It's still going to be the same writers giving us this stuff.

    1. I don't know...if they were deliberately writing the kids as immature middle schoolers, I suppose it's possible. Season One of BMW was kiddy at times, but then again, we had the magnificent Bill Daniels.

      But the biggest problem with this show is, I think, the teachers. Cory who diverts class attention onto his daughter to insanely inappropriate degrees; Harper who insists on being addressed by her first name; the art teacher who has blatant favoritism.

      I'm happy for more Smackle. And definitely happy to see Josh--Riley needs a peer who isn't in her school group. And a young uncle allows for that.

      Zay...he's very funny, but really, five is too many for this show's structure. Heck, four is probably too many--BMW succeeded by having Cory, Shawn, and Topanga as a Power Trio.

      But more than anything, I want more Topanga.

    2. Cryptid456- "I'm happy for more Smackle. And definitely happy to see Josh--Riley needs a peer who isn't in her school group. And a young uncle allows for that." I agree with you about Smackle being a peer who isn't in her school, but I don't think Josh is a peer. He is at least 4 or 5 years older then Riley and her friends, which at that age is huge difference. Josh could serve as an older brother figure. Someone who will let them stay out late/watch a movie their parents said no to.

    3. Four years...yeah, that is a little old for a peer, at least at Riley's age. In any event, more Matthews family members is more Matthews family members.

      I think I read that Josh was supposed to be in "Legacy," but then Uriah got hurt. If I could guess, I'd wager Cory would have asked him to give a lecture on what high school might be like.

    4. Ah, so like a repeat of 'She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not'. That's actually an interesting parallel, considering that Maya likes Josh as Topanga liked Eric...

      But he's not going to be in the episode anyway, so we can just forget about that.

    5. Pretentious Cory, I don't believe we've met. Name's Cryptid456, welcome aboard.

    6. Okay, it's letting me reply now. Yeah, I've been lurking for the past few weeks, but decided to comment. I'm actually a girl; don't let the diet-Feeny mocking fool you. I'll probably be a regular from here on out.

    7. Oh, where are my manners? Pleasure to meet you.

  27. Also dates are out for February and we get Commonism and Bay Window. Conspicuous by its absence was Legacy. I'm assuming they are stretching out season 2 because of the late start filming season 3. We probably won't get Legacy until March now. They won't have 7 episodes in the can until the end of March according to the film dates provided by so there is no way they can even have a new opening sequence until sometime in April. I bet they take one of the episodes they film in February and stick a season 2 opening credit on it and call it a "special" between season episode again just so they have something new to put on the air in April. I don't understand why Disney waited so long to officially greenlight season 3 when they knew this would happen again.

    1. Forgot the dates, Commonism is on February 12 and Bay Window on the 19th.

    2. Any idea as to why Commonism was held back so late? It's not just pre-Yearbook, I think it's also pre-Hurricane.

    3. It's pre-Demolition. I believe it was filmed last January or February. It is Danielle Fischel's directorial debut. There has been no talk as to why it sat so long without being shown.

    4. Now that I think about it, it must have been filmed in January or even earlier, as the show took a filming hiatus last February so that Rowan and Sabrina could go off and film their respective DCOMs. The entire cast will look like they did premiere week last May.

      Even if the episode isn't horrible, I would bet that it gets a lot of dislike just because of how much the actors and their characters have changed since this was filmed. It will seem totally out of place when we see it.

      Really I'm looking forward to it only because we finally get to meet Emma Weathersbee. Finally a proper foil for Ava.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. "The entire cast will look like they did premiere week last May."
      Yeah, it's actually kind of jarring to see old episodes--Farkle grew six inches this season, and is almost unrecognizable.

      This isn't the first time an episode was held back for an absurd length of time. "Farkle's Choice" was really early--pre-Popular, but it had a "romantic" (a term I use VERY loosely) episode, holding it off until Valentine's Day in the real world makes at least a little sense.

    7. Farkle's choice was early story wise as the writers have said, but it was filmed near the very end of season 1, number 19 overall I believe. So this isn't quite the same thing. More along the lines of "Fish".

    8. I only saw "Farkle's Choice" once, and haven't seen it since--it introduced Smackle, and I could have sworn Smackle was even shorter than she was in her titular episode.

      Hmmm...maybe it's deliberate from a thematic sense, having an episode about economic theory air after an episode centered on money.

      But then, why not air "Commonism" close to "Mr. Squirrels goes to Washington"?

    9. Just checked my good friend Wikipedia.

      Apparently, "Farkle's Choice" is 1-10 in production number, despite airing as episode 1-19. And "Popular" is 1-11 in production, but it aired as episode 1-06.

  28. Christian, I get that you use an everyday, colloquial style of writing, but dude, how many times are you going to use "like" in the middle of a sentence?? Is it deliberate?

    1. Yeah, unless I'm writing something, y'know, real, I do write exactly as I speak - with 'likes', 'um's, pauses at certain times, and so forth. They are deliberate, yes, and if I didn't think a 'like' should be there, it wouldn't be. Just my style. It's served me as a professional writer this far. :)

  29. Originally it was lucas who Riley called a sexist pig. I have no idea why they would change it to farkle. With lucas it would have been better. But of course the writers refuse to ruin Mr.perfect

  30. Morning folks.

    Some early clips from Money:

    Not too much yet. This poster's had issues with copyright violations. The episode premise looks way better than the piece of shit promo.

  31. link to girl meets money!!

  32. Disney's newest live action show, Stuck in the Middle, is premiering Sunday night February 14th. Then the show moves into its real time slot, Friday night at 9 on March 11th. I would bet a whole pile of money that Disney uses a "Legacy" premiere that night to ensure a big audience hoping they may get good carryover if people hadn't heard about it ahead of time. That date would be 3 weeks after "Bay Window" debuts, which seems like the spacing we got last year at the end of the season when they had to fill 2 months with only 2 new episodes.

    I'm sure they will fill April with something they film early that has nothing related to the arc and give it a season 2 opening sequence and call it a between season special again. Although with the kids attending a new school, I don't see how they pull it off unless they have a non-school episode early. They only have 7 film dates through the end of March, so I can't believe they would have a season 3 opening ready for a premiere in April. I have to believe they start in May again.

  33. Damn, it wasn't allowing me to reply to comments for some reason.

    Hello, I'm Pretentious Cory (actually a female), and I've been lurking here for the past couple weeks. I commented a few times as Anonymous, but this is the first time I've used my blogger. I'll probably be a regular from here on out.

  34. Read the reviews by Sean and Christian before watching the episode and just finally did out of boredom. It was a big fat ‘meh' for me. I will say I kind of like the confusion from the part of the boys in this. Yes the pairings were odd, but if the point is that boys and men are unwittingly encouraged to pursue STEM careers and women aren't...then the point could be made that the boys being confused is perfect. All people need to be aware of social injustice, even and sometimes especially when it's so ingrained that we don't notice it. Yes Maya didn't care. Yes Farkle would want to do the work. But the real story is all of the other pairings where the subtle idea is men do this work and women don't care. Poorly executed and cheesy as hell, but good on the show for getting the message right. Also good on the bloggers for being up front about the issue. Feminism isn't man hating. It's being for equality. If this blog wasn't for that I wouldn't be here. Glad that's not the case


  35. I truly don't know whose idea it was to put the scene of Maya sacrificing Yogi in this episode. It's EXTREMELY out of place and ridiculously left field. It's just like, bam! The girls are lifting Yogi now for some reason, chanting some random chant, and Yogi seems completely happy that he is going to be sacrificed... As much as I love this show, these things truly puzzle me. They really drove the "Maya loves to create explosions" thing too far, IMHO.

    You pretty much nailed it by saying that Norton has absolutely no control over his class, and I wholeheartedly agree. It's ironic because in middle school, they drill home quite clearly that there shouldn't be horseplay in science class. So this is just setting a bad example from the start. Maybe some kid tried to cause an explosion in their science class after seeing this episode! Who knows?

  36. This is from forever ago, but there was actually a lot of hints towards Riley and Farkle in this episode? Am I wrong? They seemed to have an intense moment in Cory's room.