Sitcom Corner

Sitcom Corner: Boy Meets World Season 1

In 1993, a new show moved in on the TGIF block: Boy Meets World. The show focused on Cory Matthews and his relationships with his family, friends, and Mr. Feeny, his 6th-grade teacher, and next-door neighbor. The show, especially in season 1, is from Cory’s POV as the middle child and his feeling like he often got overlooked by his family. (Think Home Improvement if that show had been from Randy”s POV) Though at times it feels like Eric is more like the middle child with as much attention his parents give him. (Think Home Improvement if that show had been from Randy”s POV) I know the show is about Cory, but Eric often gets the short end of the stick. I’ve been listening to Pod Meets World alongside this recent rewatch, and Will Friedle is often hard on himself for his acting ability, but I’ve always thought he was amazing in season one.
Credit must be given where credit is due. While Cory could be annoying at times, like your typical 11-year-old boy, Ben Savage was perfect in the role and definitely having a show built around him which Boy Meets World was. It was even referred to originally as The Ben Savage Project before officially settling on Boy Meets World as the official title.

The show starts with one of the best pilot episodes I’ve ever seen and keeps going up from there in terms of quality. It’s laugh-out-loud hysterical and more often than not, more serious in tone when compared to shows like Home Improvement or Full House. They even tackle racism only 8 episodes in. There are times when the show falls into typical sitcom tropes and cheesy jokes, but I actually like some of those moments and episodes best of all. Except I’m glad when they gave up on trying to force a catchphrase for the show. They were trying way too hard with that. YOU DO was especially annoying. I’m glad that never stuck. Ugh! So cringe.

One of the things that set the show apart from most sitcoms, past and present, is how well they handled the parents and teachers. Alan and Amy are amazing parents and feel very similar to my own. Mr. Feeny was amazing right out the gate and was a teacher that demanded respect and that actually could be respected unlike most teachers and authority figures on TV who are played as pathetic as possible and are often treated as the butt of the joke. Several former favorite Nickelodeon shows make me cringe for this exact reason. A lot of the show’s moral lessons are taught by Mr. Feeny and William Daniels knocks it out of the ballpark every single time!
Another thing Boy Meets World tried to do was give Cory a second BFF alongside Shawn. They try this for several episodes and several unsuspecting child actors fell victim to what they refer to on Pod Meets World as the Death Chair. Once their butts hit that cursed seat, they were booted from the show. The show finally started to hit its strides when they gave Rider Strong more to do which allowed him to have standout performances in Santa’s Little Helper and The Fugitive.

Cory is as clueless as every other 11-year-old boy when it comes to love and relationships, but that doesn’t stop the show from setting up what was back then probably only a possibility and never actually set in stone: a potential love interest in Topanga Lawrence. Originally, only meant to be a one-off appearance, the character became reoccurring, and eventually, Danielle Fishel was made a series regular. And Cory and Topanga would become the central relationship and the very heart of Boy Meets World. But once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
It always surprises me how weird Topanga was at the beginning. She’s a free-spirited, goddess-channeling flower child that is completely different from who she becomes later. It’s no wonder Cory has a hard time understanding her at first and she can come across as scary at times especially whilst channeling the aforementioned goddesses and other dead guys as Cory refers to them. She has two iconic moments in her first episode, Cory’s Alternative Friends: She performs an interpretive dance while drawing a heart in lipstick on her face and kisses Cory against the lockers in what is probably one of the most iconic kisses in television history.

My introduction to Cory and Topanga was actually through Girl Meets World when I was 18. The buzz around these two characters was so intense, naturally, I assumed that Topanga was on Boy Meets World from the very beginning. So I was surprised when she didn’t show up until episode 4 and wasn’t even a major character until much later!

Another standout performance and character was Minkus played by Lee Norris. Minkus was a brainiac kid who was often teased for being a nerd by Cory and his friends. This would come off more like bullying except Minkus wasn’t passive and often wouldn’t let himself get walked all over. And at times he gave as good as he got like in Santa’s Little Helper when he was a complete jerk to Shawn when he couldn’t help pay for Mr. Feeny’s Christmas gift. Lee was soooooo good that I’m convinced an actual was committed when he wasn’t allowed to move on to season 2 with the rest of the cast. As someone who looks younger than my age, I felt bad for Lee when I learned that was the reason he got cut. Oh, well. Missed opportunities abound with that poor decision from the network.

Younger sister Morgan rounds out the Matthews family and is played by one of the most adorable child actors ever! Lilly is so cute and one of the funniest characters on the show! Her performance is very reminiscent of the Olsen Twins when they were that age and maybe she would’ve gone on to be just as popular as them if the poor kid had any actual interest in being an actor. As good as she was, thankfully no one forced her to do what she didn’t want to do. Some of her best scenes were with Eric and had Lily continued to play Morgan, it would’ve been interesting to see how Eric and Morgan’s relationship would’ve developed in future seasons.

Special guest star shoutout: Jason Marsden is one of my favorite actors, and I love everything I’ve heard and seen him in! He’s my favorite guest star from this season playing a fictionalized version of himself in the role of Eric’s best friend. He stole the show in every episode he appeared in, and it’s too bad they didn’t keep him around. You don’t see Eric with any other guy friends til Jack Hunter shows up, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Season 1 is full of hits and there isn’t an episode I didn’t like. Those don’t start popping up until next season, and I could easily place the pilot in a list of my top favorite pilot episodes, but that’s another post for another time.

This is the most fun I’ve had writing anything in a really long time so I think I’ll be doing more of these. I plan on writing season-by-season reviews for the rest of the series and maybe eventually doing a series of blogs on Home Improvement as well. Until next time, Blog Dismissed.

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