We interrupt this regularly scheduled Amanda post for this BREAKING NEWS REPORT.
Or, ya know, Amanda isn’t feeling well so I switched days with her and now I’m going to write a review of a show that aired four days ago.
I’m basically a Boy Meets World aficionado. It’s kind of my thing. I own all the seasons on DVD and I reference it regularly. When I first heard about Disney Channel’s spinoff Girl Meets World, I went through many emotions, ranging from this-is-the-best-day-of-my-life to oh-dear-god-this-is-going-to-be-terrible. So how do I feel after watching the pilot?
I feel…indifferent. I was expecting to either love it or hate it, but I don’t really care either way. I think it’s safe to say that the actual plot of the pilot was weak. Also, the whole plot with Maya and Riley leading a revolt against homework was a very poor copy of the Season 2 BMW episode “Me and Mr. Joad,” when Cory and Shawn stage a student strike after reading The Grapes of Wrath. The whole riding the subway thing was weird too. Cory catches Riley and Maya sneaking out to ride the subway, but then let’s them do it anyway. Then the big emotional scene at the end (which for some reason had Lucas and Farkle present) was Cory giving Riley her own Metrocard. But she was already riding the subway for the entire episode…so it seems to me that she had a card already. Maybe it’s better not to think about it.
It’s clear, at least from the first episode, that they aren’t shying away from copying BMW. I mean, all of the GMW characters have a clear BMW counterpart. Riley is young Cory. Maya is Shawn. Farkle is Minkus. Lucas is a saner version of young Topanga. Even adult Cory is a combination of Mr. Feeney and Alan, while adult Topanga is Amy and youngest son Auggie is Morgan. The only character missing is Eric.
I thought the young actors were fine, with Sabrina Carpenter as Maya being the clear standout. Rowan Blanchard as Riley has potential. Peyton Meyer as Lucas looked way too old for the girls, but Corey Fogelmanis has potential to be entertaining as Farkle (I just learned that Farkle’s last name is Minkus. Really? Cory’s daughter and Minkus’s son just happen to be the same age and being raised in the same neighborhood in NYC and in the same class in the same school?). My favorite was probably little August Maturo as Auggie Matthews. The only time I laughed the entire episode was during his quick scene with Riley.
They were definitely pushing the “it’s Riley’s world now” thing a bit hard. Also, the cheese factor was off the charts, but it was on Boy Meets World too, especially in the beginning. It got much more adult as the main characters grew up, which presumably will happen if Girl Meets World lasts multiple seasons.
My main question is who, exactly, is the audience for this spinoff? I found it interesting that they chose to make it a Disney Channel show, as opposed to something on ABC or even ABC Family. Because as I said, BMW matured as the characters matured, but I’m not sure a show on Disney Channel could ever become more adult than what GMW is right now.
Also, part of the reason why we loved BMW so much is because we grew up with the characters. Maybe at 24 I’m on the younger side of the group that grew up with the original show, but that just means that the fans that are now in their 30s are even farther removed from their Disney Channel days than I am. Will people that grew up with the show really tune in on Friday nights to watch a half hour Disney sitcom? They are appealing to our nostalgia, while trying to make it a show for Disney Channel-aged kids. The problem with that is that the parents of those kids are most likely of the Wonder Years generation, not Boy Meets World. So if they were trying to get people who loved BMW to watch this spinoff with their children, they may have missed their mark a bit.
I don’t think the pilot was bad. It was way too young for me, but I feel that way when I watch the earlier seasons of BMW now too. This was only the first episode, so obviously there is plenty of time for the show to find its footing, and for the writers to find that BMW charm and humor that made us love the show so much in the first place. I think the show runners are clever to have publicized that original cast members will be appearing on the show later in the season. It will keep the original fans watching for a while, anyway.
The nostalgia factor will keep me watching for a few weeks for sure, but not forever. And if my age group isn’t their target audience, then I hope that there’s a younger crowd that falls in love with it. It’s hard to put into words exactly why BMW left such an impression on me or others my age, but I can only hope that younger kids find something that they can love just as much. And who knows, maybe in 20 years some 24 year old will be writing their thoughts on the pilot episode of a show about Cory’s grandson.