#12. Amy Matthews
Played By: Betsy Randle (1993-2000, 2014, 2017)
Episode Count: 138 (136- BMW, 2- GMW)
Role: Matthews family matriarch
Signature Episodes: Cyrano, Ain't Gonna Spray Lettuce No More, Fishing for Virna, A Long Walk to Pittsburgh, Security Guy, Raging Cory, How to Succeed in Business, My Baby Valentine
BMW has a lot of positive traits, but its writing for women was not necessarily one of them. All the depth and complexity is centered around the male heroes, while the girls are generally just relegated to typical female "voice of reason" roles. There is probably no better example of this than Amy - her husband gets a lot of depth, and quite a bit of story and pathos for a parent on a teen sitcom, but Amy more or less is just... there, serving dinner, trying to mediate whatever interesting conflict is taking place between the men in her life. It's a problem, that Alan and Amy, though often presented as a unit, have such a disparity in terms of depth.
Still, while Amy's mostly just there - she's there a lot. She's there for seven seasons. No, it's not a flashy role, but then... sometimes moms don't get flashy roles in their families. If Amy's role in the Matthews family lacks complexity, it may be because moms often don't get the benefit of having complex roles in their family. Traditionally, Dads get to be the fun parent and the scary parent, and not much in between. The day to day parental drudgery - making sure people are fed, have clean clothes, get to school on time - the much more time-consuming and less exciting stuff. The perfect representation of Amy's role in the series, to me, is the episode "Fishing for Virna". Amy has a small storyline in that one, she keeps making breakfast, and the family keeps being too busy or distracted to notice or care and she starts to feel, silently, ignored. Cory eventually notices, stops to have breakfast with her, and thanks her. It's a tiny moment (obviously the episode's primarily about Virna's return and the lunchlady's death) but it fits who Amy is perfectly. She's there, working hard, providing support, not getting the attention, but ultimately her presence matters in a big way.
The Matthews family needs her. Cory, Eric, and Alan are plagued by such angst and self-doubt that they'd fall apart without Amy there to offer rational advice. Her contributions may lack the profundity of Feeny's, but it's generally just as sound, and given without all the fanfare. Feeny can be a bit of a fortune cookie as he's accused, and when he gives advice there's often some dogma attached to it, a sense that he knows he's an advice wizard and is pleased with it and you better LISTEN UP because you're about to get WISDOM you'll remember FOREVER. Amy doesn't get any glory, she doesn't got time for that, she just tells you what's up. As we saw in "Brothers", when Amy goes to Feeny for advice it's useless, because she doesn't need his help, she knows the answers herself. And considering even Feeny has moments where he needs what's up explained to him, I'd argue Amy may well be the wisest character on Boy Meets World. That's... bold. Prove me wrong! When does Amy ever seem genuinely stumped when it comes to making a decision or in some emotional matter? When does she ever seem to not have the answer to a problem and need the answer explained to her by someone else?
I've always enjoyed the practicality of Amy. This is a very idealistic show, filled with characters with all sorts of romantic notions, and generally passion and emotion are seen as superior to logic and rationality: 15 year-old girlfriend's going to be gone for a week? HOP ON A PLANE AND FOLLOW HER! Didn't get into college because you're a fuck up? HIT THE OPEN ROAD AND EXPLORE AMERICA! Got into one of the best universities in America? GO TO SOME LOCAL COLLEGE AND MARRY YOUR BOYFRIEND! But Amy, though perfectly able to understand those instincts and understanding of them, is one of the few characters (even including Feeny) who's like "Wellll..... hooooooold on." Amy thought Cory and Topanga were being ridiculous in "A Long Walk to Pittsburgh" and they were. Cory maybe should have tried dating other people, and Topanga running away from home to be with Cory isn't the answer. When Cory and Topanga announced their engagement following their college graduation, she thought it was a horrible idea, and, yeah, she was right about that too. Sure, in the end, romantic idealism had its day, but it's worthwhile that Amy's there to be, like, "Well, okay, hold on, guys, let's talk about this." She's the same with the rest of the family too. She's harder on Eric than Alan because she knows it's the only way he's going to grow up, and she can identify when Alan's behavior is out of whack as well.
Again, it's not a flashy role she plays. Nor is it a particularly fun role. I doubt Amy is anyone's favorite character. And of the seven core characters who appeared in all seven seasons, there's a reason she's ranked last. But, I do think Amy's an underrated character in Boy Meets World, and I don't think this show would have been the same without her. The Matthews family certainly wouldn't.