Saturday, March 26, 2016

Looking Back: Season 2


I don't think I'm alone when I say that I only watch Girl Meets World because it is a "sequel" to Boy Meets World. If it weren't a sequel to BMW, and it were as good as Boy Meets World with regard to lessons, character arcs, and humor, I still wouldn't watch it. I watch this show because I want to see what my old friends are up to these days, and I watch the episodes lacking those characters because I take pride in my reviews and in what we've all built here on this blog.
Pictured: The best character.

In light of that, it seems almost pointless to continue evaluating Girl Meets World as a distinct, standalone show. I will continue that, I'm just realizing now how odd this all is, given that I wouldn't watch it under any circumstances were it not the sequel to a show I love very dearly. Can I even be objective when this show only exists in my mind in reference to something else? I think that's the definition of subjective... 

As I have already treated the entirety of this season as a standalone show, comparing it to Boy Meets World very rarely in each review, I think we've all earned a Looking Back that does compare it to Boy Meets World, especially since that's why we're all here in the first place. Doesn't that sound nice? 
Woah, not that nice.

And that leads us to the main event. The critical, crippling wound of this show that I promised I'd reveal, that until now no one has put into words. The reason none of us are invested in Riley, Maya, Lucas, and Farkle, in one sentence. Are you ready?

We have never seen these characters having fun. 

How fucked is that? I've said in the past that we don't know what the characters' hobbies are, but that problem is really a subset of this one. This is the most general and complete problem I can come up with. Let's talk about why.

I've been seeing a lot of gifs on reddit lately of like, baby elephants playing in a mound of dirt or with a streamer, things like that. Playing purely for the sake of having fun is exclusively reserved for high thinking species. It's extremely humanizing and makes anyone, human or animal, immediately sympathetic. So let the gravity weigh on you when I say that I have seen elephants have more fun in the last two weeks than I've seen of Riley Matthews in the last two years
There was one scene in Farkle's bedroom in Meets Money that you could call playing or fun, but I would call it entertainment. It was incidental. No one set out thinking "Let's go have fun!" Rather, they set out on an emotional journey of room discovery, and stumbled into Farkle's expensive toys. 

Meets Rah Rah was the closest we ever came, and I gave it the praise it deserved in the review. That was a strong episode. But Riley's fun ended up serving as a vehicle for plot, Cory's lesson, and saccharine friendship speeches. Not only do I want to see the characters having fun for fun's sake, I want the writers writing it for fun's sake, for the sake of bringing a character to life. 

And that's where we start to compare to Boy Meets World, in particular the second season, to be fair to Girl Meets World. Almost every episode has a scene at Chubbie's, where the kids are hanging out, on dates, playing pool, or whatever. Not because we're going to learn a lesson about treating minimum wage employees with respect, not because we're going to learn about the dark side of hustling at pool, not because we're going to learn about the dangers of eating high fat fast food. We're there because the kids are out having fun. They were at home and thought "I want to have a good time." 
Whoa, not that good.

Okay, to be fair, most of the time, the dates are vehicles for plot, and I am going to address that specifically. But Shawn, Cory, Eric, and Topanga also do a lot of other things. They play sports and video games. They watch movies and TV. Does the Matthews apartment even have a TV in Girl Meets World? Or a computer? Who the hell knows! Because when Maya and Riley have free time, they don't want to have fun, they want to sit in the god damn windowsill. And try to say as many pseudo philosophical things as they can in sixty seconds before they go to school. And then they cry.

These characters will never be real to me until they actually start to enjoy their lives. I can't imagine that any one of them honestly enjoys life. All they ever do is go to school and talk about drama. The only thing we know of that Riley and Maya enjoy is shopping, and that's fine, that's as good as playing billiards or whatever, but look at what we've seen. Demolition. Shopping turned into an escapade with mustache twirling villains and a life lesson. And then the one with Shawn buying clothes for Maya, which of course was a vehicle for emotion and drama. Why oh why oh why can't we get the opening from Demolition and then have it lead into literally any other story from this season? The girls are out shopping and then the UNRELATED TO SHOPPING plot develops. There's no lesson about shopping, they were just there because they're human beings. That could honestly change everything, if they just did it once, just show us Maya and Riley having fun without fucking using it for some other contrived purpose. It could change everything

Okay... so... that's what I wanted to say. That's what's been on my mind. A slightly unrelated problem is that we still haven't really seen the kids make any mistakes. You learn from mistakes, not from Cory Matthews shoving lessons in your face. Especially when it comes to romance. 

To quote the immortal Alan Matthews, "You're supposed to date around, that's how you find out who you're compatible with." And I don't want to hear any excuses about high school or age differences. Season 2 of Boy Meets World is seventh or eighth grade, despite being at a high school, that is canon, they are the same age as Girl Meets World in season 2. Like I was saying (and like Alan said) you learn so much about yourself from your romantic mistakes. You learn in The Beard, and Sister Theresa, and Boy Meets Girl, and Pairing Off, Turnaround, Cyrano, Breaking Up Is Really Really Hard To Do, Fear Strikes Out, Notorious (with Desiree), even By Hook or By Crook a little bit. THAT IS ALL IN SEASON 2! Season 2 is the "dating" season of Boy Meets World. Maybe the reason I like it so much is because of how much I've learned about myself and how much I've grown as a person as a result of my (mostly) failure with women. 

We were so close to hitting that note with Charlie Gardner, and that's why we were all excited about him in the first place. But the best we got was a reference to a date that happened off camera and I'm honestly not convinced Riley grew or learned a damn thing about herself from the Charlie arc other than "I like Lucas." And maybe that's the most disappointing thing of all.

I don't think there's much reason to do a Looking Forward. Do the shit I just talked about and bring Shawn back. 
Woah, not that Shawn.

Slightly related, check out this interview with Rider talking about his new movie.  Man, Rider is just the coolest guy.

And I'd like to say, to my esteemed colleague Christian, regain your strength for season 3. I urge you to revisit your second comment thread on my Epilogue post. In particular, "In Season 1 for GMW I slacked off when I got busy or disappointed in the quality or just lazy. You never did. And this kind of endeavor needs that level of devotion. You were a shining example of how a blog like this need be run." Be the shining example you want to see in the world.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Episode Review: "Girl Meets Legacy" (#2.30)

Neither of us has even watched it yet. It's telling that neither of us has any motivation to watch or review the season finale of this show. Jacobs has managed to disillusion two of his most dedicated fans. It sucks.

The review will be up eventually, most likely later today, but yeah, that's why it's not up yet. There's no guest stars, no Charlie, the shit with Lucas is going to live for another half season, nothing gets resolved... I am excited about nothing.


Well Christian and I are both desperately hoping for the other to post first, so I guess I'll just bite the bullet. I worked two hours longer than I was supposed to tonight, and I'd really rather watch House of Cards and work on some Photoshop painting, but here I am. This post had ~430 views at the time I'm writing this, which is a lot of people that I have personally disappointed, and I don't want to disappoint a whole lot more. So let's kick this pig.

I just invented a new game. As soon as my delicious Belgian tripel gets cold in the freezer, I will begin drinking. Maybe you can pick out a tonal shift in my writing when that begins.


Woops, wrong blog.

(Hint: That is not when the drinking started.)

Ok I'm pressing play for real now. 

Just... lemme eat a couple more of these french fries... 

Lucas has decided to address The Triangle, which is great for real life, but bad for television. I love that he has notecards. I saw Cryptid stomp his feet in the comments about hating Lucas, but I definitely don't hate him. I hate the writers who made the two leads fall for him, but the character has been funny and engaging once they stopped writing him as a Disney Prince. He still looks a little too perfect, but I doubt Disney is handing out vouchers for Jim's Plastic Surgery down on 4th and 22nd.
If I were watching this with no knowledge of Jacobs's recent interview, I would be excited. I would expect some resolution, at last. You see, I want to discuss this subject even less than Maya up there, if that's possible, but it does need to be done. Unfortunately, "done" is staying late at the office and won't be home in time for dinner. We allegedly have another half-season before this is "resolved," but they also said it would be finished in Texas part 3, so I honestly don't even believe that shit. They'll drag it out again because it draws viewers and because they hate me. 

Fuck, Daylight Savings just hit. That's a real downer.

Anyway this scene is very satisfying. The girls finally ask Lucas what he wants, and we get a quick showcase of his rapport with each of the girls. I've got about six thousand dollars that says we'll come back after the theme song in a completely different location with no notion of how the intro's tension was resolved.


Sigh... They just don't know how to make a show anymore. Anyone here can easily imagine Shawn and Cory and Eric and probably even Topanga realizing all on their own that they want to leave a Legacy, to make a mark. But here we are once again with Cory explicitly delivering the plot to his students. 
It's actually almost profound. The Girl Meets World characters are mostly interested in a love triangle, while this last remnant of Boy Meets World is waving his hands in the air, "No! No! Do a real show! Please! Do something important!"

Here it is again, agh, these little hints of a good show, peeking through. I love Topanga's motherliness, I love her exaggerated comforting of Maya's exaggerated moping. This Topanga is magical and it makes me feel like I'm watching the real Topanga Lawrence, but they always WASTE this maternal side of her on characters we don't care about. Like Ava. God damn it, it's just enough to keep me on the hook. I have to watch the rest of the series because something like this might happen again.

"He's the best teacher you'll ever have."


"The most important thing you can do in life is give people a reason to remember you."

That does not sound like Cory. Well, it sounds like season 2 Cory. The Thrilla in Phila Cory. How the fuck did pen meet paper and write that as a line for Cory Matthews? It's beyond words. Total utter nonsense. 

I continue to enjoy Lucas here in the classroom, it seems like he's as lost and frustrated as I am with this romance crap. He just wants it to be over, and no one else in the world will let it be over. I can empathize with that

Maya thanks the art teacher for believing in her. I'm a fan. This dynamic deserved way more time than the two episodes it received, but it was satisfying nonetheless. I could rant about this "you've been given a real gift" crap, but it's not worth it.

Farkle says goodbye to the science teacher and NOBODY CARES!
Pictured: Real life
"I respect a nice place where good decisions get made." No Squidward this time, that line is awesome. It's original and genuine. He sounds like an actual character, with motivation, which is in short supply on this show. I have learned something with actual weight about Harley in this scene. When was the last time I said that about Riley? I really appreciate that they gave Harley an ending with a certain amount of gravitas. I am satisfied. It doesn't really help Lucas at all, but yeah. This was worth watching simply for giving a Boy Meets World veteran a proper ending.

"I've been trying to teach you to keep your feelings inside." I'm not doing Squidward again, but WHAT THE FUCK MAN? No he hasn't! Who wrote Cory's lines for this episode! In fact, Topanga said the exact opposite earlier at dinner. 

Oh good, let's relive all of Michael Jacobs's brilliant, you heard me, brilliant life wisdom. I mean, in all seriousness, "people change people" is pretty damn solid. Probably the only real lesson I've taken from this show. But this scene feels like "Hey in case you guys forgot, I'm a genius." Oh and of course Maya is on the verge of tears, it's, mmm, just checking those check boxes, huh? Just checkin em off, one at a time. Check check check.

I apologize for the gifs if you're on your phone, but I have to follow my heart when I write these things.

Oh come on, you might as well do a clip show at this point, with all this yesteryear crap. You already did it in Brave New World, Jacobs, just do it. Do a clip show, I won't be mad.

I'll be a little mad. But not as mad as watching this forced god damn Riley crying CHOKING BACK THE TEARS BECAUSE THERE'S JUST TOO MUCH PAIN! 
Will they ever not cry in an episode for the rest of time? When is the next episode where they don't cry? 

Suddenly Cory brings up "how will the school remember you," which, again, none of the students ever cared about on their own. It's middle school. Who the fuck cares? The characters don't care! Why does Cory care!?

Apparently the incoming class at JQA middle school consists of six students. But don't worry. They're ethnically diverse, so they can still do a McDonald's commercial. This bench unveiling is pretty standard Girl Meets World forced-sentimentality. They Chekov's Gun'd us with the bench and I really wish they hadn't. Where is everyone else in the school? How did these children get here? How will they get home later? In Harley's van? No thank you.

From Riley, "I think everybody should leave their mark." And by "everybody" you mean you. You personally Riley Matthews. What about, like, Yogi? Does Riley think Yogi should leave his mark on the school? What's Yogi's long lasting legacy at JQA? 
Oh right.

This is hilariously insensitive though. Harley gave this emotional speech about how he takes care of this bench, and he loves what it symbolizes, and I love what it symbolizes and how it's meaningfu- FUCK IT! LET'S JUST REPLACE IT WITH A NEW ONE! At least it's not a bay window... They probably had to beat Joshua Jacobs away from the writers' room with a stick, "Guys guys what if they donate a Bay Window to the school, guys please my dad makes the show!"

I'm glad Zay made it back for the ending. This dialogue between Zay and Lucas feels organic, like two relatable characters having a real conversation. Dare I say, I had fun. Riley and Maya used to feel organic, they used to be fun, until they starting trying to turn EVERY SINGLE SCENE into the ending of god damn King Lear. I'm so HAPPY, I'm so SAD, the TEARS THE TEARS they just won't stop, WE'RE THE BEST FRIENDS AND CORY IS THE BEST TEACHER. But we snapped back to reality for a minute with Lucas and Zay. It was nice. It was refreshing.
So the kids JUST A PRANK BRO'd Cory into high school with them. Riley refers to Turner as "Uncle Jonathan," and "Jonathan" sounded wrong at first, but on second thought it's the right decision. "Jon" is reserved for Shawn. Even Kat Tompkins called him Jonathan. Eli might have called him Jon but Eli's not canon *cough*. 

In the final scene at the Bay Window we see that we have, unsurprisingly, made zero progress. My favorite thing about this episode was the bench and they replaced it with a new stupider one, so I don't even know. 

Oh, also, that scene from the theme song where the girls are doing Jazz Hands on the dishwasher conveyor belt, did that ever actually happen? I feel like I've been waiting for that scene since the beginning of the season. 

By the by, you should be very excited for our "Season in Review/Looking Forward" post because I, Sean Of Golden Text, have solved it. I had an epiphany today and figured out why I don't like this show. And this is something no one on this blog has ever said, or even implied, really. I think I'm going to blow everyone's mind. It is the discovery of a lifetime. And this isn't some setup for an elaborate Sean-joke. I'm completely serious, I figured it out, and it is elegant

Hey guys. Sorry for the delay on this, it's been kind of a hectic time in my life for a variety of reasons (some good, some bad) so, honestly, this just wasn't a priority for me. With us being a week out from the airing of this, seems silly to go too in depth, but I have just watched it.

It was mainly bad. It's amazing how they could have spent so much of an episode (a season finale, no less) focusing on a triangle without anything in the triangle actually even occurring. It's astounding the degree to which they're willing to spin their wheels on this. It seems like the show is just as uncomfortable with the lack of progress as we are, they call it out all the time - how they keep doing the same thing and sitting in the same spot and feeling the same way and not doing anything, how their last conversation about this was New Year's and it's now graduation - and yet it doesn't keep them from continuing to not advance it. 

Are they network mandated to keep this going or something? Do they just not know how they want to end this, and so they're stalling? I'm confused. This can't be the story they want to tell, because they're deliberately not telling a story here. I honestly think there's something else going on here, though I can't think of a plausible example of what that could be. 

Either way, I now don't want either of these couples together for a new reason - the same reason I was ardently against Farkle being with them. If Lucas' feelings for them are this equal, if he truly can't decide who he likes more, than he doesn't like either of them enough. No matter who he chooses, he just took way way way too long to decide so obviously his feelings for her aren't that real. Lucas had the right idea - this obviously is meant to be on either front. Just stay friends. Yes, it was awkward at first, and it may be awkward for a while, but you'll get over it. 

The legacy stuff was all pretty stupid. I agree leaving a legacy is important in life - one should always try to leave the world better than they found it. But, honestly, the legacy one leaves to their middle school is pretty minor. You're only there a couple years. And you're not enough of a person for it to be important that you leave something behind. It's really not that important that John Quincy Adams Middle School be profoundly changed by the fact that Riley Matthews and her friends attended it. And how did they renovate that bench? With whose money? Is this what Maya did with the charity foundation she's apparently running now?

It was nice to see all the teachers get a bon voyage, but I was surprised we didn't see Harper - certainly the most prominent non-Cory faculty member besides Harley. I guess they wanted to do individual goodbyes, and the only person Harper would have made sense talking to was Maya, and the art teacher made more sense, but still. Oh well, guess that's it for Harper. Thanks for making us watch a whole dumb episode about who you are. 

Harley's goodbye was nice, and while I've said that I haven't really understood the reasoning behind making him such a prominent part of this revival, I do think if this is his ending (and it should be, don't make Harley follow them to high school. Jesus Christ.) it was nice. Though I'm not sure I remember him having a particular relationship with Lucas.

It was weird that they went out of their way to not have Zay be in the school scenes and even explained an absence for him, if he was in the episode anyway. It's weird how little we see him. They have to fish or cut bait in Season 3 - either he's on the show, and we see him all the time, or send him back to Texas. I've warmed up to him, but he doesn't matter to me, so either's fine. But this half measure is weird.

The one thing I will give this episode is that I'm glad they set up Cory going to high school here, and not in the premiere of Season 3. In both instances of Feeny following them to the next school, the kids all went there first and we were led to believe that it was it for Feeny as their teacher, and then they found a way for him to show up. This was better - though Turner should have delivered this news in person. Would have been nice to see him.

All the major problems I didn't touch on are the problems they always have. The characters are too impressed with the seriousness of their own dialogue, and every situation is made incredibly overwrought. There were some good performances - from Sabrina, from Danielle, from Ben, and even from Peyton - but it was a boring episode and I kept checking to see how much I had left.

We'll do a more complete look at Season 2, but this bottom half of it was weak, man. If we broke up the show in to four quarters - Season 1.0, Season 1.5, Season 2.0, and Season 2.5, then Season 2.5 is the weakest of all (followed by Season 1.0, with Season 2.0 as the strongest)

Episode Rating: C
Episode MVP: I'll give it to Peyton, actually, he had some moments where I was impressed. He was funny in the cue cards bits, and I actually really felt it when he was talking to Riley and Maya in the classroom about how friendship's not working anymore either.

Lucas and Harley bonded a bit in Girl Meets the Forgotten. What did you think of the exaggerated comforting between Topanga and Maya in the apartment? I haven't seen any comments agree with me about that. 

I don't have anything else to add. 

I give this episode a C because there are actually a few hints of a good idea in here. But Christian's right. Ultimately, the major problems are the same problems they always have. 

I liked it, it was fun. Topanga was good in this episode, from the little we saw her, and Maya's exhaustion with the situation entertained me a lot more than Riley's prim earnestness about it. 

Yeah, Lucas had interaction with Harley in the Forgotten, but Farkle was there too. Meanwhile Farkle and Harley had a meaningful chat in whatever the one he was being picked on was. I think Farkle may have been slightly more deserving, especially than the random science teacher from STEM, though I get that having Farkle talking to a science guy (like Maya talking to an art woman) has more to do with him. But then I guess that would have left Lucas with no one since Harper doesn't make sense with him either.