Monday, December 12, 2016

20 Greatest Meets World Characters: #18. Lauren

#18. Lauren

Played By: Linda Cardellini
Episode Count: 3 (2 corporeal, 1 dream)
Role: An alternative to Topanga, harbinger of chaos
Signature Episodes: Heartbreak Cory, Torn Between Two Lovers (Feeling Like a Fool), The Psychotic Episode, (sort of) Girl Meets Pluto


It's season 5. Cory and Topanga are madly in love. Topanga just ran away from her parents (and Pittsburgh, but who can blame her) to be with Cory. There was an episode named The Last Temptation of Cory. That was the last one! They're rock solid! 
Uh oh.

Lauren seemingly does the impossible by steering Cory's heart away from Topanga Town, making her perhaps the most controversial character in Meets World. She defines the most notorious arc in the series. And the Breakup Arc doesn't only concern Topanga and Cory, as the fallout of the breakup extends to Shawn and Angela as well. So there is no doubt that Lauren's impact on the story and characters is colossal. Years later, in Girl Meets Pluto, Topanga explains that she felt threatened by Lauren, and stashed her letter in the time capsule, hoping she could tear it up without caring in the future, which she does. That's a pretty huge deal. Especially with how seriously the episode treats the concept of a time capsule. I mean Shawn put in the items that made him fall for Angela, and Cory put the denim jacket from What I Meant To Say. So Lauren's letter is in the same tier of significance as that stuff. It seems like that might be the real end of Lauren's effects on these people, but the mere mention of Lauren by her son in Meets Ski Lodge is still enough to get a rise out of Cory and Topanga. 
All of this? With just two real episodes? That's insane.

But here's the thing, while Lauren has an immense effect on the story and characters, she isn't just a plot device. We get sucked in, just like Cory, because she's engaging, and entertaining, and fun. The audience is forced to feel the same conflict as Cory. This is a girl that any of us would want to spend all night talking to. This isn't a conniving homewrecker trying to seduce the male hero, this is a real issue, wondering if you might actually be happier with another person. Lauren's writing is a master stroke by Jacobs et al, especially in Torn Between Two Lovers. We see Cory and Lauren having their fun, goof-around date, a counterpoint to the strict, by-the-books Topanga. The Topanga relationship tends toward dramatic moments rather than fun, so the date with Lauren emphasizes the fact that this isn't so much a competition, but rather seeing what else is out there, what kinds of different relationships you can have. And it goes so far as to show Shawn, Amy, and Alan all admitting to each other that they like Lauren. 

Ultimately, from Starry Night, The Psychotic Episode, and Girl Meets Pluto, we know that Lauren's real effect on Meets World is allowing both Cory and Topanga to learn, independently, that no one else will do, that there will never be anyone better for them than each other. To quote Cory directly from TBTL, "I don't have to be afraid of what I feel about anybody else because I know that it could never take away from loving you." That's huge.

To sum up, Lauren explodes into this series. EXPLODES. That is the best way I can describe it. From out of nowhere, we get this compelling character with clear personality, motivation, and goals, who changes the lives of four lead characters. In two (sort of three) episodes. Impressive.

9 comments:

  1. Lauren was an amazing character in no small part due to Linda Cardellini's amazing charisma.

    I can't wait to see what you guys said next.

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  2. I used to actively dislike Lauren but I've grown more fond of her, or the idea of her, in recent years. I think my initial dislike stems from how she shook up the status quo so severely. I didn't like the change, how short-lived it was.

    Merciful heavens, I've turned into Cory.

    Lauren left an inescapable impact. In only three episodes. I'm honestly surprised she isn't a little higher on the list.

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  3. I was expecting her to be higher; but she's probably the highest out of any-one that's really only in for a single, short arc.

    I always liked Lauren; but then I'd always wanted Cory and/or Topanga to actually have a real fight on their hands. I wanted it to be Cory more honestly; and I kinda wish Topanga had actually competed rather than just took things all the wrong way, but it's the closest they got.

    And that's how you do a triangle right...

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  4. I agree with Will above, in that this was a triangle done right.

    It actually showed the dichotomy between these two different characters, Lauren and Topanga, and how each made Cory feel when he was with them. They were different people, and we as fans liked both of them. That's how a love triangle is supposed to work. We, as fans, have to be able to relate to all the parties involved. If we don't relate to even a single part of it, then it kind of falls in on itself.

    Hence, when we had to endure the Maya-Lucas-Riley triangle, it wasn't a story we could identify with. To the casual viewer, it was a good looking guy who had to choose between two very pretty girls, who in reality weren't all that different. There was no tension, no drama. And the show suffered for it.

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    1. This is my first time commenting here, long time lurking lol but I totally agree pwfan. The triangle with Lauren,Cory, and Topanga was down leaps and bounds better than the atrocity we got on Girl Meets World.

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  5. Loitering in the older posts is something I haven’t done since I first started reading this blog and was always 2-3 episodes behind, like I am now.

    I wanted to comment on this interesting post, if for no other reason than surprise it didn’t generate more commentary. Also recently watched Freaks & Geeks—actually re-watched, but had no solid memory of the original run.

    So, Cory is in this legendary teen romance with Topanga. Then, making an entrance that doesn’t exactly scream “viable romantic partner,” he immediately excites the interest of a character played by no less than Linda Cardellini. This business demonstrates that, in some significant ways, BMW was further removed from my life experiences than the far less realistic GMW.

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    1. Watching a show long after it first airs, especially if it garnered a fair bit of popularity at the time, often has a lot of those disconcerting issues. I saw a youtube video once about something like '20 famous people who were on BMW before they were famous'.

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    2. Hi Will, seems like a while since we talked. I've fallen of the pace here a bit, with broadcast time lag not wholly to blame.

      Yeah, I would take a guess that a bunch of those 20 played Eric's romantic interest of the moment.

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    3. Missed you being around, Milestones.

      More of them from memory were Shaun's love interests. I always find it interesting watching older shows, or at least clip sequences of older shows, to see whom I recognised from more recent stuff.

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