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. http://ktla.com/2016/03/18/365040/ 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.