One of the last things Ashley and I did before she moved (don't worry, I'll get around to writing about that) was watch all seven seasons of the popular 90's sitcom "Boy Meets World." It was one of our favorite shows growing up. Definitely top 10 for me and potentially top 5 of all time. Closer to number 1 for Ashley.
I thought I'd give a few thoughts about the show itself and about watching seven seasons in the span of two-and-a-half weeks.
"Boy Meets World" was on air from 1993-2000 as a part of ABC's popular "TGIF" block of programming from 8-10 p.m. It tells the story of Corey (Ben Savage), his best friend Shawn (Rider Strong) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel), Corey's initial foil, then girlfriend, then wife.
What's really cool about "Boy Meets World" is that the kids were the main stars of show, so the show grew with them instead of the kids growing with the show. An example of the latter is "Full House." That show was on the air for 8-ish years or so. The Olsen Twins were literally in diapers in the first season. The kids - DJ, Stephanie, Michelle - grew up over the course of the show but no matter how old they were it was a show about how Danny, Uncle Jesse, and Uncle Joey dealt with raising these kids.
The first season of BMW was about 11-year-old kids and 11-year-old-kid problems. It transitioned into being a show about going to high school and meeting girls and finding love and ultimately about college students dealing with growing up and getting married and heading into the "real world."
Since ending its run a decade ago, it has lived on in reruns on the Disney Channel and, obviously, through DVD sales. What's really cool about BMW is that it has been on reruns for so long that it has reached a second generation of fans. I see people 8 or 9 years younger than me tweeting about how it's their favorite show. They likely didn't watch it Friday night at 9 like I did. They probably caught it at 2 a.m. Tuesday night on Disney.
One day Ashley told me that FYE at the mall was having a DVD sale when she was there and she picked up several of the early seasons of "Boy Meets World" for really cheap. That was when we both discovered our mutual love of the show.
Watching all the seasons reminded me that I have seen every single episode. There were a couple episodes that I forgot about, but then I would remember a moment and start quoting it before it happened. It was a very nice nostalgia trip.
Perhaps one reason for the show's longevity is that the main cast were all good child actors in season 1. There are so many bad child actors that are thrown into shows just because they're cute or they say a dumb catchphrase or something, and that's not the case here. I could actually suspend my disbelief and watch these preteen kids become their characters.
For a few generations of people now, Corey and Topanga are the perfect couple. People strive for the level of devotion and feelings that those two have for each other. The look on Ashley's face when I told her she was my Topanga was priceless. Try it on your girlfriend, they'll love it.
One criticism of the show I do have is one that I didn't have when when I was watching it on a weekly basis. Condensing seven years into a couple weeks definitely showed that they harp on and push the idea of love. It got a little old hearing that everything will be okay because Corey and Topanga are in love.
A popular term for when something good starts to be not as good is called "Jumping the Shark." It's named after a moment on the show "Happy Days" when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on water skis. People think that's the unofficial moment when that show overstayed its welcome.
I feel like this will be an unpopular opinion, but BMW jumped the shark for me when they changed the character of Eric (Will Friedle), Corey's older brother. In the earlier seasons he was a girl-obsessed dim-witted teenager who caused some trouble but meant well. As he became a more popular character and the show became more popular with a teenage audience they decided to turn Eric into idiotic comedic relief. Eric became stupid, for lack of a better term. While certain moments were funny, the integrity of the show was damaged as a result.
A good problem for a show to have is to became hugely popular and a part of the mainstream. That's what happened for the final two seasons and it hurt the show. BMW became such an "in the moment" cool show that there are so many references and jokes that you won't get if you weren't watching in 1998-2000.
Seeing a subtle reference to "South Park" might get a little chuckle in 2013, but "South Park" was one of the hottest, most controversial shows in the late 90's and it was kind of edgy for BMW to have Eric walk into a room and say Mr. Hanky's "Howdy hoooo!" catchphrase.
There was an awkward moment that today makes no sense between Topanga and another character, Jack, where they kind of made a reference to not really liking each other. It was there for no reason other than they were dating in real life and it was funny at the time to have their characters be the opposite of the real people.
There are a lot of little moments like that sprinkled throughout the final two seasons that are kind of funny but were actually funny and relevant in the late 90's.
One of the main plot points of the show centers on the main group of students and their interaction with Mr. Feeny, their middle school teacher, high school principal, and college teacher. In one of the last episodes Corey mentions how odd it was that Mr. Feeny was his teacher in every grade.
The final episode ends with the gang leaving Mr. Feeny for the last time before they move to New York to start their new lives together. I had only seen that episode twice until watching it with Ashley - the original time in 2000 and once in 2006. Both times had the same reaction and I was hoping it would be different this time. As they hugged Mr. Feeny and said their final goodbyes I tried to look away until Ashley finally noticed and asked, "Are you crying?"
And, yes, I cried during the final episode of "Boy Meets World." After she was done laughing, Ashley told me it was sweet.
Due to the high interest in the series today, a sequel series has been ordered and will debut in 2014. "Girl Meets World" will tell the story of Corey and Topanga (both of whom are now in their early 30s) raising their own children. Their daughter will essentially be the "Corey" of the series, as it looks like she'll be the main star.
I'm intrigued by this show and have high hopes for it. Hopefully GMW realizes the reach it will have - there are multiple audiences waiting for this. Me, the generation behind me who discovered it, and the current Disney generation who will watch it because Disney tells them to. There is a lot of history with this show and that should make for interesting moments. Is there anythings else on TV where the daughter can ask their parents how they met and then they show a clip montage of the 30-something parents growing up and falling in love right before our eyes?
It will be really interesting to see how GMW utilizes the seven-year history of BMW. I'll check back in with more thoughts in 2014.