Monday, July 21, 2014

Girl Meets World SUCKS.

Does the long awaited series reboot live up to the hype? The answer, I am afraid, is a resounding "No." Screamed, very, very loudly. For like, 20 minutes straight. 


I really liked “Boy Meets World” as a kid. It wasn’t the best show in the world, and it certainly didn’t have the staying power of something as gloriously messed-up as “Family Matters,” but it was fairly entertaining, for the most part. That is, until Corey got all old and stuff and graduated high school and went to college. I mean, who wants to watch that shit?

To be fair, “Boy Meets World” was nothing more than a really, really light and frothy version of “The Wonder Years.“ Considering the dueling Savages going on here, I suppose the comparisons are all but unavoidable. Still, it had its moments, and even now, I can go back and watch some repeat airings and smile a goofy, nostalgic smile.

When “Girl Meets World” was announced, I was semi-excited. Then, I learned the Disney Channel would be handling the reboot, and the enthusiasm got sucked out of me like a perforation in a Macy Day’s balloon. Sure, Disney WAS the parent company of ABC throughout most of the original “Boy Meets World” run, but that was Disney at half power. The Disney Channel is Disney at its unfettered, shameless worst, and my greatest fear was that instead of feeling like an authentic update to “Boy Meets World,” this newfangled program would basically be nothing more than just another Disney Channel crapola-fest with “Boy Meets World” wrapping on it.

After watching the first few episodes of the retooled program, I sadly have to say that little worry of mine has become a reality. “Girl Meets World,” far from just a bad television show, also happens to be a bad Disney television show, which is an entirely different kind of awful.

The live-action sitcoms on Disney -- at last estimate, there are roughly seventeen billion -- all follow the exact same formula. You have an impossibly cohesive, impossibly functional and impossibly white family, whom speak only in G-rated patter. Despite the myriad plot variables -- sometimes the family lives in space, other times, the family lives with a talking, social media savvy pet -- the dialogue, flow and general feel of each show feels identical.

All Disney TV shows take place in what I call “the Disney vacuum.” Sure, it may look like the reality we all know, but it’s different. For one thing, there’s no queers or cursing, and only the occasional appearance by an off-white face. There’s no divorce, no real religion, nothing even close to resembling politics, racism, poverty or class differences. Like the utopia presented in “Demolition Man,” the Disney vacuum is a world were, though some unspeakable eugenics program, all of the human beings unserviceable for Disney have been somehow eradicated. “Girl Meets World” is no different, with Corey and Topanga turning into to prototypical upscale -- but not TOO upscale -- family unit with two young uns, no doubt clamoring endlessly for more Disney-related paraphernalia as soon as the invisible camera swings away from them.

There are some good aspects, I guess. The actress playing Riley, the main character, does seem to have Corey’s mannerisms down pretty well. You can tell she brushed up on her homework -- if Corey and Topanga actually DID have a kid, not only would it look like her, she’d probably act like that, as well.

I also kinda’ like the whole “Shawn and Corey” dynamic between Riley and Maya. It’s a really easy path to take, but Maya is a pretty interesting foil. She’s not really a bad girl, per se, but I like the way she contrasts Riley. And although it’s not really a plot point or anything, holy shit, Corey and Topanga have not aged a bit. They look exactly the same way they did in 1997 -- which means the fountain of youth must be located somewhere in the vicinity of Philadelphia.

Now, as far as the negatives go -- you might wanna’ brew a pot of coffee real quick, ‘cause we’re going to be here for awhile.

First and foremost, the show doesn’t feel like “Boy Meets World” one iota. Even Corey and Topanga feel less like their “BMW” characters than they do the super purified, ultra-sterilized Disney idealizations of who middle aged parents should be. The episodes feel like the Mormon fan fiction writings of a 14-year-old waiting for marriage to pop kiss for the first time; whatever minor edge “BMW” may have had has been sanded off and dulled to an edge so blunt and brittle, it may disintegrate if a fly lands on it.


Secondly, the characters don’t act even remotely human. Corey, a middle school teacher, acts more like a kid than the students, showing the type of classroom leadership that would make Jaime Escalante go full-on “Machete.” Even worse, Topanga hardly seems to have any dialogue at all, appearing almost exclusively in breakfast table scenes where she lightly derides Corey, gives her kids some glib encouragement/exposition and then disappears back into the sitcom abyss. The secondary characters, including the Matthews’ youngest child -- an ADHD furball called “Auggie” -- and a super-annoying mega-geek character called Farkle, are all really bland and uninteresting. Worst of all is Riley’s crush, this junior high heartthrob whose charisma is on par with a paperweight. “Boy Meets World” had a stronger than average cast, but its Disney re-do/update definitely pales in comparison.

The episodes I’ve seen all seem to follow the same pattern. During an in-class lecture, Corey brings up some historical tidbit -- like the Civil War or the bombing of Pearl Harbor -- and somehow, the central theme of his diatribe reflects whatever miniature conflict is going on in Riley’s preteen social life. Meanwhile, Topanga just kind of hangs out in the background, solving whatever subplot -- usually involving Auggie -- and then, everybody gets together at the very end, has a chuckle, and voila, whatever stressor from earlier on has been alleviated. For a 2014 sitcom, it seems oddly unaware of its own anachronistic style -- not only does it feel like a misplaced early 1990s show, it would probably feel misplaced if it was an ACTUAL 1990s sitcom.

“Boy Meets World” was by no means a slice of life program, but compared to “Girl Meets World,” it’s practically “All in the Family.” In the debut “GMW” episode, two preteen girls hop aboard a New York subway, where they are given sage life advice from a sassy overweight black woman. So far, that’s the edgiest thing that’s happened on the program, a show so eerily neo-Victorian that we haven’t seen Corey and Topanga -- a MARRIED couple with two kids -- so much as swap spit yet.

The original show, despite some goofy asides, at least FELT like it took place in the reality you and I live in. There were poor people and shitty parents and motorcycle wrecks and cult leaders and Corey complaining about Topanga not letting him touch her breasts -- needless to say, something tells me you won’t be seeing episodes of “GMW” where Riley calls Maya a “wop” or helps Big Van Vader defeat Jake “the Snake” Roberts.

There might be some hope for the show -- Shawn is set to return for a few episodes -- but I doubt those minor glimmers can really save the show entirely. Apparently, Mr. Feeny’s ghost is still out there, haunting the subway system of New York City, so hopefully, he pops up to give today’s Smartphone-lugging young-uns a good-old fashioned serving at some point.

Alas, all of that would mean the producers of the show suddenly start striving to make the program feel at least somewhat authentic. And if you’re anyone who knows anything at all, you already know that’s a game Disney won’t play whatsoever.

Still, I hold on to my dreams of grim and gritty updates to other beloved TGIF programs. How about a “Step By Step” re-do, where a widowed Patrick Duffy and that one karate wife-beater dude that used to live in a van out back team up to become bounty hunters, or a sequel of sorts to “Full House” in which Dave Coulier plays a vigilante seeking the murderer of the Olsen Twins?

No matter the execution, it would have to prove a more entertaining program than “Girl Meets World,” that is for sure…

10 comments:

  1. The first few episodes weren't the best, I'll give you that. The show now is progressing, and getting better. The writers say that they hope to get the characters to High School and College. Since the viewers and actors are young now, they'll keep it innocent. As everyone grows the show plans on covering more mature topics. You shouldn't judge the show so early on. It's honestly one of the better things on disney channel.

    Most of the Disney shows suck, but this ones pretty good.

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    1. I think the first 2 seasons were good but the 3rd season is terrible

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    2. I think the first 2 seasons were good but the 3rd season is terrible

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    3. I think the first 2 seasons were good but the 3rd season is terrible

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  3. The parents are not middle aged. They are young and in their 3os. Also what is wrong with being white? The show us awful, but for none of the Disney reasons you describe.

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  4. The parents are not middle aged. They are young and in their 3os. Also what is wrong with being white? The show us awful, but for none of the Disney reasons you describe.

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  5. Up to college no Disney channel only goes up to 4 season and the shows not good enough to do what its predecessor did and go 5 years plus

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  6. They need to switch it to ABC family... Or whatever it's called lol maybe then it would get better. Disney has a way of killing shows

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