#10. Katy Hart
Played By: Cheryl Texiera (2014-2017)
Episode Count: 15
Role: Maya's mother, Shawn's love interest
Signature Episodes: Girl Meets Maya's Mother, Girl Meets Master Plan, Girl Meets Pluto, Girl Meets Hurricane, Girl Meets the Forgiveness Project, Girl Meets Upstate, Girl Meets I Do
Next, we have Katy Hart who, it should be noted, will not only be the first entrant into the Top 10, but also will rank as the greatest recurring character in Meets World franchise history, as the remaining nine were all main cast members of at least one of the shows.
I expect there's going to be some out there surprised this, and I can understand why. Identifying the top 9 was easy - we didn't necessarily know the orders right away, but it was clear who they were, and there was never really much chance of any character from #10-#20 passing any of them up. But #10 was tough, and could have gone a number of different ways. Certainly compelling arguments could be made for Chet and Amy, certainly, and I wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Jack or Angela on someone else's list in this slot.
The last handful of characters have all had caveats connected to them, and all of those caveats are things that don't apply to Katy. Angela was an effective love interest for Shawn and pushed him into character growth but wasn't necessarily a compelling character with an identity of her own. Katy, on the other hand, was both. I was just as happy for Katy for finally finding true love as I was for Shawn, which is saying something considering how much more time I've spent with Shawn. And while Shawn falling in love with the mother of Cory's daughter's best friend feels very cliche and TV, they did sell that relationship as being one that works - especially considering how little time we were able to spend with it. Katy managed to push Shawn to grow and mature, like Angela did, but she did it without berating him about it - allowing him to make these discoveries for himself, which has always been how Shawn learns best. And though she had her own abandonment issues as well, which allowed her to understand where Shawn was coming from, she wasn't plagued by them like Shawn (and Angela) tended to be, never allowing it to come in between her and what she wanted, which helped remove the one step forward/one step back nature of Shangela.
Was Shawn and Katy a little rushed ultimately? Of course it was. It was literally Episode 1: They meet, Episode 2: They flirt. Episode 3: They start to date. Episode 4: They get engaged. Episode 5: They're married. That's not an exaggeration. That's the five episodes Shawn and Katy have shared so far. Still, that their courtship happened over the course of five episodes and wasn't a disaster says something. I think most of us like Shawn and Katy as a couple, and buy them together... we just wish maybe it happened a little slower. But it would have been really easy to hate it. I think the reason we didn't was because how well Katy was portrayed.
Okay, so, that's Angela. But why does Katy pass up Amy? Amy, as we said in her write up, provided a necessary stabilizing role as the mother of a main character, but.... also struggled to be a compelling character with an identity of her own. Yet Katy, again, did both, and, for that matter, her relationship with Maya was give much more real estate onscreen than Amy's with Cory despite over a hundred less appearances. I probably have more of an attachment to Amy because I've seen her SO much more and been aware of her for so much longer, but after 15 episodes I understand who Katy is better than I did Amy after 130 episodes... that says something.
And what about Chet? Chet's situation is different than Amy's and Angela's and I think he was the only one who had a chance of passing Katy up and getting #10. He appeared in roughly the same amount of episodes as Katy (by "Goodbye" it'll be just one less for Chet) so he was also an example of a dynamic, compelling character who is only held back by the infrequency of his appearances... yet Katy managed to concoct a similarly dynamic relationship with her daughter in the same amount of time while simultaneously building a compelling romantic relationship with one of this franchise's most popular characters. Katy, really, does it all. Had she just stayed on the path established by her first episode, "Girl Meets Maya's Mother" which presented her as a less-shady version of Chet, she certainly would not have passed him on the list, but the added complexity she got from her relationship with Shawn, which got almost as much focus as her relationship with Maya, pushes her over him for me too. Also, Chet appears so sporadically in Boy Meets World. This is, obviously, part of his character, but also can blunt his effect. Every time he reappears after a while there feels a need to remind the audience who Chet even is and what his thing is. Katy's in only one more episode of GMW, but because there's so much fewer episodes of GMW in general, she's more of an ever-present aspect of her series than Chet is in his. Plus, there's always that feeling that Chet's absences are just as much about narrative choices (wanting Shawn to live with first Turner and then Jack and Eric necessitates finding a story-based reason why he's not living with Chet) as they are about his actual character.
In fifteen episodes, Cheryl Texiera has managed to craft a very rich, real character. Side characters on this show tend to be painted with a rather big brush filled with obvious, gimmick-y traits that allow them to be summed up in a word or two. Frankie's a gentle giant, Smackle's a femme-Farkle, Chet's a lovable ne'er-do-well, etc. Like a real person, though, Katy's not so easy to define. Maya's mother can be daffy at times, serious at others; she's idealistic enough to continue to chase her dreams as an actress but cynical enough to doubt they'll go anywhere; she tries to be a good role model to Maya, but sometimes has an instinct to present a pretty picture to her rather than tell her the truth. She's complicated, she feels real, and I think we've all come to genuinely care about her. Rather than just be important to us because she's Maya's mom or Shawn's love interest, we like her because she's Katy. And episodes of Girl Meets World with Katy are almost universally better than those without her.
I feel like there's more to say, but I'm done writing, so I'm going to stop now. Katy's #10. We're in the Top 10 now folks! Just nine people left. I'm betting you guys can guess who they all are, but what order do you think they'll fall in now that you've seen our decision making?