My first dose of escapism
Growing up, my favorite show outside of anime, was Boy Meets World I absolutely loved it. I always found closure in the adventures Cory and his friends would go on, and the lessons they would learn. I binged watched it again and again, through high school, college, and my early twenties. I even have a tattoo of the paper airplane used in their logo. I watched the Girl Meets World spinoff and loved it, but only now, four years after GMW went off the air, do I realize why I loved Girl Meets World.
Boy Meets World was a big ol’ lie. Or, at the very least, it was a suburban fairy tale I could never actually relate to. While yes, I was a young kid growing up in America, my life was very different from everyone in that show. But escapism is a really powerful drug, so I immersed myself, fully believing that I could live my life the way Cory did. Looking back, a lot of my more self-destructive tendencies were born from the exaggerated moral situations of that show. Cory’s tendency to throw all sense of reality or responsibility out the window if it meant something good for his friends, or the way he never really had to work to maintain his lifelong relationship with the far too perfect Topanga. Cory Matthews was a man of words, hardly ever actions. Any conflict that entered his life was either resolved within a twenty minute episode, or two to three episodes after that. The only characters with lasting consequences and story lines, actually, the only character with that, was Shawn. That, in all honesty, played a huge part in why, looking back, I was a spectator from 19-27. I spent most of that time connected at the hip of my friends, focused entirely on them and not doing much for myself outside of looking for love, a mistake I am still feeling the consequence of. Life doesn’t work that way, at least not for most people. I don’t regret being a good friend, however I do regret not focusing on my own life more, putting myself in the back seat. Expecting everything to work itself out as long as my friends were happy with me, or even worse, expecting my friends to always be my friends. While it’s true I have maintained many friendships throughout my life, the people I’m closest to now, at 29, are not the same as the people I was closest to at 26. Because my life isn’t a scripted show, and the cast changes every few years. In that same fashion, life is not dependent on dating, nor can every problem in your life be solved with simply expressing your feelings. Relationships are hard work and need to be maintained, no one is going to make life altering sacrifices for you and you shouldn’t expect them to, and even if you find the perfect partner, that doesn’t mean you won’t have real obstacles to face. In seven season of Boy Meets World, Cory and Topanga faced only two challenges that were handled, in any way, realistically. Everything else was handed to them, or solved in a way that would only happen on a TV show. I don’t fault the show for this of course, that’s the point, I fault myself, for believing life would be like this.
In hindsight, Girl Meets World was actually better than it’s predecessor, or at least, had the potential to be. Had Disney executives not forced the writers to focus on making Sabrina Carpenter the star of the show (since the show’s creator refused to actually cast her as the star) Sabrina Carpenter is a wonderful talent, but Disney’s focus on trying to create another pop icon instead of letting a quality show be made, stifled the growth of Girl Meets World. The best episodes, undoubtedly, are the ones focused on Riley, the protagonist, because unlike Cory, she had her own stories to tell. Also, the story of a young girl growing up in a big city is far more relate-able. While some aspects are complete far fetched, many of those elements are carried over from Boy Meets World (like having the same teacher for most of your life) and outside of that, the show is as realistic as a Disney Channel show with a mostly all white cast about decently financially well off people can be. Most of the lessons I learned in Girl Meets World, I still carry with me, because one of the biggest things that show did, was actually tear down the delusions that Boy Meets World was built on.
At the end of the day, Boy Meets World is an iconic sticom, with the same level of unrealistic nonsense as every other sitcom. I don’t fault it for being what it was, nor am I blaming it for my mistakes as a fan. No sitcom should be deeply invested in, or taken as a reflection of reality. Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Seinfeld, all of them, and every show like them, are ridiculous, meant to impact our lives by entertaining us for twenty two minutes once a week, and that is all. They aren’t a reflection of our reality, and they should not be treated as such. Laugh, enjoy the escapism, but that’s all. Personally, I don’t think I’ll watch Boy Meets World in the future, simply because I’ve outgrown it. Not much I could get from a 500th viewing I think. I still give the show a 7.5/10 as a overall review of it (8.5 if you skip the first 2-3 seasons for continuity problems)