By Jaime Weinman - Friday, January 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
The ’90s sitcom is back as Girl Meets World, with a focus on Cory and Topanga’s daughter
Like many people in their 20s and 30s, Laura Hughes is excited about the new incarnation of the ’90s sitcom Boy Meets World. Hughes, a writer of young-adult novels who started publishing online reviews of the show in 2003 as a college freshman, is one of the fans who turned the coming-of-age story of a boy named Cory from a minor ’90s series into a franchise: Disney has taken note of its huge online fan base and commissioned a pilot for a sequel series. “I have high hopes for Girl Meets World if it understands why we love Boy Meets World,” says Hughes, who is based in Massachusetts. Who would have thought there’d be such a following for a show about a boy with a girlfriend named Topanga?
Since the news broke that both Ben Savage (Cory) and Danielle Fishel (Topanga) have signed up to appear in Girl Meets World,a show about their characters’ daughter, the pilot has had more coverage than many shows that are actually on the air. When Rider Strong, who played Cory’s best friend, Shawn, announced on his website that he had “no official involvement” in the sequel, it was picked up by major gossip outlets like TMZ, Perez Hilton and Salon. Jeff Menell, a writer on the show for all seven seasons, says the “emotional response” to the announcement has made him realize “the amazing and enormous impact Boy Meets World had.”
Usually a show that gets a sequel series was a phenomenon in its own time, like Dallas. But Boy Meets World was mostly ignored when it was part of ABC’s kid-friendly “TGIF” lineup from 1993 to 2000. “We never felt we got the respect we deserved,” says Menell. But when it went into reruns, it exploded. Like many fans, Hughes got hooked later. “I was thinking I might write an article for my comedy website,” she explains. “Before I knew it, I’d reached a level of massive obsession.”
She’s not the only one. Menell recalls a recent incident where a coat-check girl saw the Boy Meets World logo on his jacket “and went nuts. She was a huge fan. It was a cool moment that got a second’s worth of respect from my usually unimpressed buddies.” And apart from getting millions of views for its episodes on YouTube, the show has inspired tributes usually reserved for classics. Last year, the gaming website IGN ran an article called “Lessons learned from Boy Meets World,” and in October, Hollywood.com writer Matt Patches published a 2,700-word oral history of the episode in which the characters dream they’re all being killed by a slasher. “There hasn’t been a great family sitcom since,” Patches insists.
Why would a low-budget sitcom with huge ’90s phones become a cultural touchstone in 2013? Hughes thinks it’s because “the creative team got a little loopy,” writing meta-humorous jokes for older fans. She points to the one where Cory’s crazy brother Eric “joins the cast of the gentle family sitcom Kid Gets Acquainted With Universe,” or the one where “Shawn spends an entire episode looking disturbingly hot in drag.” These surreal moments gave the show more hip cachet than other TGIF sitcoms like Full House.
That doesn’t mean Girl Meets Worldis a sure hit; its style might be out of place 20 years on. Boy Meets World had grown-up jokes because it aired on ABC, and Menell says it was also “about the parents. It was about the teachers.” The sequel will be on the Disney Channel, where most shows are what Patches calls “niche entertainment” for today’s kids, who haven’t heard of Cory or his wise teacher Mr. Feeny.
Hughes points to Canada’s Degrassi: The Next Generation as an example of how to bring modern kids into the fold. It brought back some of the original cast, but “used them sparingly, instead allowing the new kids plenty of room to come into their own. Girl Meets Worldwill have to do the same.” Even if it doesn’t, the buzz around it may have cemented the old show’s unlikely icon status. It seems that way to Menell, whose contributions to the original series included the slasher parody and an episode where Eric disguises himself as a tree. “I always loved my time on Boy Meets World,” he says. “But now I have a new-found pride about it all.”
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 10:55 AM - 0 Comments
One of the things that makes Glee popular is that it has no qualms about doing the kinds of episodes that audiences still like, but TV writers had mostly grown tired of. There’s a hint of irony in the way Glee uses these plots, but nothing like the self-reflexiveness of 30 Rock or Community; just as we are free to accept Glee as an un-ironic musical if we want, we’re also free to take its crazy stories at face value. So last night they used one of the corniest plots known to modern mankind — a regular character goes into a coma for the episode, and his loved one stands by his bed with the crying and the hand-clutching — and sort of played it straight. While I like the show better when it doesn’t try to make sense (that is, I actually like the Ryan Murphy episodes, with their complete insanity), I have to hand it to them: they’ve proven again that you can get away with almost any story if you don’t act like you’re ashamed of it.
I say the coma plot is “corny” on comedies because, first of all, it uses a very serious problem for an easily-solved, one-time-only story, and second of all, because it’s been done so often that we sort of know how it’s going to play out. The subversion last night on Glee was simply that Kurt didn’t pray to God for his father’s revival; most of the previous versions featured a character addressing God directly at the comatose character’s bedside. But otherwise, we know the story from several comedies, and I’d be interested to hear where you first saw it. I think the first sitcom to use it may have been Happy Days — which is quite likely where many of the later shows got it from — where Richie went into a coma because the writers wanted to show kids, through Fonzie, that it’s okay to cry sometimes. This episode kind of set the pattern, though at least the big song was an original composition — why don’t the guys at Glee get Leather Tuscadero in for a guest appearance, hm?
Then there was “So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show,” where Homer went into a coma for most of the episode. Bart revived him not by praying to God but by confessing that he caused the accident that put Continue…