‘Girl Meets World’ makes me cry on a weekly basis

By Joanna Mendoza

Rowan Blanchard and Ben Savage in a scene from the opening credits of "Girl Meets World."

Charmers new and old. Rowan Blanchard and Ben Savage in a scene from the opening credits of “Girl Meets World.”

Months before Girl Meets World was supposed to start, I decided to binge-watch Boy Meets World. I never finished it and I felt that Corrie et al were too special to simply be read about on Wikipedia.

I remember Cory (Ben Savage) and Shawn (Rider Strong) from when they were little, from the earlier episodes. I know the show went on until the characters had gone to college, but I don’t remember having seen any of those college eps. I don’t even remember them graduating high school. I think my siblings and I stopped watching Boy when the Disney Channel here stopped airing new episodes.

Come Boy marathon day, my husband picked a random ep from the latter seasons. In the episode, Eric was looking for a new place to stay because his roommate’s girlfriend was being a bitch. Actually, I don’t really know the nitty gritty of what was happening there; I just knew even then that you don’t kick Will Friedle out of your dorm room unless you’re insane.

Okay, since I don’t care about the girl, I read about that episode on Wikipedia. Apparently, in the episodes leading to that one, Eric moved out to get out of the way of his best bud Jack getting the girl he thought he also had a crush on. Eric was just trying to avoid a love triangle with his best bud Jack, which is why I saw him sleeping in a car in that ep. Avoiding a love triangle? Ah, such simper times! Nowadays, love triangles are a staple, even for smarter shows like The Good Wife. Anyway, back to Boy, apparently Jack, played by Brotherly Love‘s Matthew Lawrence, was Shawn’s older half-brother. Man, I have got to revisit this World!

This is how I choose to remember Cory (Ben Savage) and Shawn (Rider Strong).

This is how I choose to remember Cory (Ben Savage) and Shawn (Rider Strong).

If only that very episode hadn’t discouraged me. In the episode, all three girls were incredibly insufferable. They just didn’t make any sense at all. And that wrestling thing, where they challenged the boys to a wrestling match to determine who gets to keep the dorm room, which belonged to Eric and Jack in the first place. And the girls were doing their nails during the wrestling match! What?!? It wasn’t cute at all. It was cringe-inducing.

Ah. This introduction is already  too long. What I really wanted to say in this post is that, even after unfairly hating on Boy Meets World‘s latter seasons solely based on a few minutes of that unbearable episode, Girl Meets World has turned me into a loyal fan. Without fail, it’s made me cry while watching it. And here are the reasons:

5. The relationships

Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter are real-life besties too.

Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter are real-life besties too. (Photo courtesy of the Disney Channel)

The friendship between Riley (Rowan Blanchard, adorably goofy) and Maya (Sabrina Carpenter, always amazing) feels so real because of their chemistry. Riley’s kind of a really cute dork, while Maya is a very sophisticated beautiful specimen. Riley’s part of a loving family; Maya doesn’t seem to have one. It’s very Cory and Shawn, Savage and Rider, and that’s probably the reason I can’t get enough of it.

Scene stealer Farkle’s (Corey Fogelmanis) one-sided romance with Riley and Maya is also a weekly highlight. That kid Fogelmanis is so Disney–slapstick, funny, cute–and I love it.

And then of course, there’s the new Matthews family: Patriarch Cory, his wife Topanga (Danielle Fishel, who apparently merits the “And” in the credits more than Savage does even though she wasn’t the Boy), their 5-year-old son Auggie (August Maturo), and, of course, Riley. I have no words really, except that I love them to bits.

4. The lessons

Cory and Topanga hand Riley her very own stored-value (I assume) Subway ticket so she can, you know, meet the world on her own.

Cory and Topanga hand Riley her very own stored-value (I assume) Subway ticket so she can, you know, meet the world on her own.

Not about teen stuff, of course not. Girl Meets World has so far had a lot of things to say about parenting. And they don’t do it in-your-face style like Modern Family does. Well, fine, this is Disney, so yeah, it can be a bit in-your-face, too, but it’s a lot less annoying than Modern Family tends to be at times.

Maybe it’s because I knew Cory and Topanga as kids, and now I can relate with them on a deeper, more mature level. And more than the lessons I learn from them, they also mirror my agony about my kids not wanting to spend as much time with me anymore when they grow up. In the second episode, where 5-year-old Auggie has a girl over and it doesn’t work out, Auggie asks Topanga post-“date” to color with him and Topanga says “Let’s color for the rest of our lives”–this scene made me cry so hard I couldn’t breathe. Well, it was probably because I was trying hard not to make a sound while bawling so I wouldn’t wake up my kids, but still.

3. Farkle

Corey Fogelmanis as Farkle. Riley is basically Corey 2014 and Maya is a female Shawn. Guess who the inspiration for nerdy Farkle is!

Corey Fogelmanis as Farkle. Riley is basically Corey 2014 and Maya is a female Shawn. Guess who the inspiration for nerdy Farkle is!

Ah, Farkle. Like many Disney characters, this kid is almost always toying the very fine line between irresistibly adorable and unbearably annoying. But Farkle never crosses that line. He’s a first-class nerd and he’s proud of it. He’s one of my favorites, and I’m proud of it.

2. Sabrina Carpenter

Carpenter and Sabrina sang the opening credits theme song Adorable.

Carpenter and Sabrina sang the opening credits theme song. 

I can listen to this girl talk forever. She has such a clear and sexy voice for a 15-year-old. She’s pretty, too, and really, really funny. And she can sing. In one scene, Carpenter’s Maya does a goofy exit while singing at the top of her lungs. It was funny, but the audience didn’t laugh. The only explanation I could think of is that they were so in awe of the kid–who was doing physical but smart comedy while beautifully singing in an intentionally funny way–that they forgot to pick up their mouths off the floor and produce laughing sounds. Either that or the person in charge of the laugh track forgot to play the track, you know, because he was also in awe.

1. The throwbacks

Blast from the past! Hippie Topanga makes an appearance.

Blast from the past! Hippie Topanga makes an appearance.

In the most recent episode, there was a brief flashback to when Topanga first held Cory’s hand to feel his aura or something like that. It would’ve felt gratuitous and a bit of a fan service, except that it was set up in a context that makes sense. In the seconds before the flashback, I started crying and breathing hard again. I didn’t even know there was going to be a flashback. I just cried because it was a rare tender Cory-and-Topanga-only moment and it took me back. And when they showed the flashback, oh my… I’m crying again right now.

 

Girl Meets World isn’t one of the best new shows out there. And chances are, like me, you are outside its demographic. But do yourself a favor and feed your nostalgia. Trust me, you’ll feel very happy even after all that crying.

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