#13. Angela Moore
Played By: Trina McGee-Davis (1997-2000, 2015)
Episode Count: 55 (54- BMW, 1- GMW)
Role: Shawn's first love
Signature Episodes: I Love You Donna Karan, Chasing Angela, First Girlfriend's Club, Friendly Persuasion, Santa's Little Helpers, The Truth About Honesty, Angela's Men, Angela's Ashes
Sorry for the delay on this! Been very busy. So. Angela.
Sean and I have both been pretty open about not being huge fans of her, but Angela's import is fairly self evident, and I think she was easily the most significant of the trio of latter season additions, and generally the best handled. Unlike Jack and Rachel who just showed up one day and were suddenly main cast members living with our heroes, Angela was introduced gradually as a recurring character. First, as just a student at John Adams, then as one of the litany of girls Shawn briefly dates, and finally as his first real girlfriend (sorry, Dana, it's true). Season 5 gradually got us used to Angela, and by the time she joined the main cast in Season 6 it felt like she'd earned her place as a main cast member and I didn't find it as off-putting as I could have.
Angela played a few important roles. So much of Shawn's development in the final three seasons, his burgeoning introspection of who he is and why he does the things he does, and his ability to take himself and his actions seriously is wrapped up in her. She helped him grow up. As a person and as a character, Shawn very much needed an Angela to give his arc some focus. I didn't love every aspect of their relationship, and the constant shuffling of who was pulling away from who because they were overwhelmed by their feelings could get exhausting, but then, that's kind of what people are like when they're 19 years old.
To that end, I think Angela's biggest claim to fame is that she helped establish a teenage relationship on this show that felt real. It was messy, it was angsty for reasons that seem silly to us as adults now but could easily seem REAL and IMPORTANT at the time, and, most importantly, it ended. For a show meant to represent the coming of age of an average American kid, BMW has always had the big problem of him being involved in a completely unrealistic relationship. So, because Cory and Topanga couldn't represent what a real "first love" relationship would look like, Shawn and Angela had to represent it instead. And I think it did so well. Ultimately, my favorite thing about Shawn and Angela was that the show had the courage to end it, despite everything they'd invested in it, because it was what felt right. Shawn isn't Cory, it never made sense that true love and happiness would come to him so easily. They were too young, too broken, too immature, and plagued by too many of the same issues for that to have worked out. And I think it was important that they show this, and it provided a nice bittersweet note to the end of the series and drew attention to the role that goodbyes play in transitioning from college to adulthood, since otherwise everyone else (of importance) was going off to, like, live in an apartment together in Manhattan.
And, because it ended, Angela continued to have a role to play in Girl Meets World. Not so much... physically (her one appearance wasn't handled very well and I'm not convinced we needed it), but as an idea. The specter of Angela continue to haunt Shawn and informed the more adult relationship he would go on to build with Katy. I have my issues with the fact that playboy Shawn Hunter would still be hung up on a girl who broke up with him 15 years ago, but narratively it probably made sense to make the personification of his relationship issues be someone the audience was familiar with rather than some new character who he'd met in the interim.
Still, while Angela was just as important to the development of this franchise's second main character as anyone (even Turner and Chet) she does have the issue of existing more as an idea and a catalyst than a character of her own. Van Damme tickets and Vivaldi aside, we don't really get to know Angela very well outside of the prism of her relationship with Shawn. The show never did an amazing job of establishing her relationships with non-Shawn cast members, and her best friendship with Topanga was something I always had trouble buying. The best characters aid in the progression of the narrative and the development of other characters, while also being great characters themselves. Feeny's main role is the effect he has on other people too (though, obviously, he effects far more people than Angela does), but as a person himself, he's also great.. Angela really only hits 1 out of 2, which is why she doesn't rank higher, and why she ranks the lowest of Shawn's Character Development Foursome.
She came closest to feeling like a real person in Season 6, which I think is by far her best season. Episodes like "Friendly Persuasion" where she forces Cory to confront that they're not really friends, and "Santa's Little Helpers" where she finally stands up for herself in the face of Shawn's self-absorption offer glimmers of an fierce, independent young woman I'd have liked to have gotten to know. But I'm not sure if we ever really did. Still, if only by virtue of the relationship she built with Shawn, I do think we got to know her better than Jack and Rachel.