Millennials heaved a collective sigh of relief tonight. The long awaited spin-off of Boy Meets World premiered on the Disney channel tonight (June 27, 2014). Girl Meets World will chronicle the life of Riley Matthews (Rowan Blanchard) the daughter of Corey Matthews (Ben Savage) and Topanga Matthews (Danielle Fishel).
This show will most likely breed nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the 1990s. It is beloved by an entire generation. When Disney announced that it was picked up for their network many people were nervous about this. No one knew what to expect. Some people didn’t have any expectations. I fell into the latter category. I was excited for the show but I did not have any expectations. I did not want to get my hopes up. My line of thinking was this could be really good or go oh so very badly.
I think the pilot episode went very well. If this is a reflection of what the rest of season one is like I feel confident Disney made a wise decision.
Here is my review of the pilot episode and the four aspects I liked most: (SPOILERS!)
The episode starts off with Riley (Rowan Blanchard) and Maya (Sabrina Carpenter) at the Matthews’ New York apartment in Riley’s bedroom. They are discussing sneaking out of the house to ride the subway. Riley is not allowed to ride the subways by herself. After all is she is only 12. However, Maya pressures her to do it anyway. They attempt to sneak out of her bedroom window and Corey foils their plot. He then gives her advise about the world and how she needs to make it her own. He has experienced the world and now it is her turn.
This intro shapes the discussion for the first two points I observed while watching the pilot.
1) The parents are not complete idiots.
2) It is clear the show is about Riley meeting the world.
Too often when Disney decides to do a show the parent/parents are usually cast as completely helpless buffoons who couldn’t possibly managed without the help of their children. The dribble that is littered on the network now is only evidence to my point and this was a concern for many Millennials. However, tonight we saw that Corey and Topanga were caring and thoughtful to their daughters wants and needs. Riley expressed her concerns about becoming her own person in her world and they provided her with carefully considered advise based off of life experience.
The second point I noticed while watching the pilot episode was that it is abundantly clear this show is about Riley Matthews. Corey even goes as far to say he has experienced the world and now it is Riley’s turn. Personally, I do not have a problem with this. I think many Millennial would have preferred we immediately found out what happened to all of our beloved characters but we were quickly reminded this show is about Riley and her world. Of course we will learn the fate of our favorite characters in due time. However, this show is about Riley Matthews and her friends. The over all theme of the episode was Riley learning to break away from everyone’s expectations and for her to forge her own path.
The last two observations are probably my personal favorites. They are what ultimately gave me confidence in this episode and I hope the future of the series. Again, it is still too early to give full judgement on a series that is only one episode in. So I reserve a full opinion until I have seen more but I like what I see so far.
3) Disney would ruin it.
4) The show was heartwarming and funny.
I don’t think Millennials can reiterate the overwhelming concern they have/had for this show. Many times Disney misses the mark when it comes to the shows they push on their network. Personally I believe it started in the middle to late 2000s when their TV shows were about children trying to become famous. You didn’t see that with Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, That’s So Raven, or other shows in the early 2000s. However, the cast seem to hit the mark. Ben and Danielle’s chemistry has not seemed to have faded at all. Their relationship wasn’t a huge focus in the episode but it was still authentic and believable. Riley is the perfect combination of Topanga and Corey. She is studios and has a drive to be good. Corey’s heart is what separated him from others. He always had a strong sense of what right and wrong was. After all he is as dangerous as lime jello. Riley is a very believable daughter for the Matthews.
Lastly, the show is heartfelt. There is a moment when Corey is disciplining Maya (Sabrina Carpenter) for setting off the fire sprinklers. She starts a rebellion against homework and in Corey’s words “takes things too far”. Corey and her discuss her home life and we find out that she starts the rebellion because she doesn’t have anyone at home to help her with homework. Later we find that Corey and Riley discuss being friends with Maya. He thinks Riley is the kind of person Maya needs in her life. They both balance each other out. Like Riley says “Maya will get me into trouble and I’ll always be there to get us out”. The friendship that is displayed is authentic. It is easily reminiscent of Corey and Shawn. Cory is quite the kidder. He provides much of the comedic relief. I found myself laughing at some of the jokes. They were not corny or over the top. They were good.
While watching the pilot episode I did so with an open mind. I realized that this isn’t the same show as Boy Meets World. Its also unfair to expect to fall in love with it from episode one. We did not do that with Boy Meets World. Personally I fell in love with Boy Meets World with the episode where Corey learns about antisemitism. This is the episode where Corey bets his bike with Mr. Feeny. Corey has to have more students than on average pass the test at the end of the week. Its Mr. Feeny’s trick to get him to study. Eric dates a girl with a foreign decent and someone calls her an ugly name. This hits home for Corey. He takes drastic measures in lecture and calls Shawn’s mother a name based off of her decent. Shawn does well on the test. I’m not sure why I liked this episode so much. Perhaps its because of my desire to treat every single person with equality no matter what but this was my “ah-ha” moment. I cannot wait until new viewers can have that with Girl Meets World. When that happens an entire new generation can grow with the same life lessons the generation before them did.
There are tons of research on Millennials. Social scientists are attempting to dissect our beliefs and world views. Most likely they wish to know how to better market different things to us. However for many their ideologies were taught or reinforced by Boy Meets World. If done right, Girl Meets World can do the same for the next generation. Life lessons can be taught. Conversations can be started and wholesome entertainment can be provided.
This in itself is humbling.