'Girl Meets World' Premiere Review: Does The Reboot Live Up To The Classic 'Boy Meets World'?
Twenty-one years after Boy Meets World debuted on ABC, the Disney Channel premiered its highly anticipated sequel series Girl Meets World on Friday night. Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel returned as Cory and Topanga Matthews, every ‘90s child’s favorite television couple. This time around, the show focuses on their preteen daughter, Riley (Rowan Blanchard) and her bad girl best friend Maya (Sabrina Carpenter), as they navigate middle school drama and the NYC subway system.
The Michael Jacobs-produced series kicks off with Riley and Maya sneaking off to ride the subway, only to be intercepted by Cory, who spouts advice on discovering who she is while still living in his world. Things don’t become easier when it is revealed Cory is also Riley’s history teacher. When Cory asks the class to write a paper on their strongest beliefs, Riley cracks under peer pressure and follows Maya’s lead in boycotting homework. This leads to another heart-to-heart discussion between Cory and Riley, where Cory presents his daughter with her own MetroCard to explore the world. “I already met the world,” he says as he lets her go. Cue the aww’s – though, the show tried a little too hard in driving the idea of self-identity and finding a place in the world.
Boy Meets World was a quintessential part of every twenty-something’s childhood. I can’t quite say the premiere episode of Girl Meets World lives up to the ‘90s magic of its predecessor, but I also can’t say that it won’t. Perhaps Riley will become more relatable as she grows older and enters into high school, provided the show lasts that long. I suppose it has a lot to do with age, too – the show caters to an entirely new generation of viewers. Several jokes and scenes bordered on slapstick comedy and made me cringe with the cheesiness of it all. I did ask myself why I was watching in the first place – for the record, I wanted to see how many old cast members made appearances. The premiere episode wasn’t as strong as it could’ve been, but then again, my expectations could have been too high. I miss teenaged Cory, Topanga, and, of course, their teacher Mr. Feeny and his infinite wisdom. Topanga hardly made an appearance during the show and I wonder how much she’ll factor into the series. I wanted to see Will Friedle as Eric, Cory’s goofy older brother, who really carried Boy Meets World in later seasons, or Rider Strong as Shawn, Cory’s best friend. As of late, Friedle’s involvement in the new series is uncertain, but I did hear that Shawn would be making an appearance.
While the show might not have met every expectation, it is reminiscent of Boy Meets World. The name of Riley’s school is John Quincy Adams Middle School, and Cory attended John Adams High School. The classrooms and hallways might very well be the same sets, and it is endearing to see that Cory has followed in his mentor Mr. Feeny’s footsteps. There’s also the class mega-geek and Riley’s not-so-secret admirer named Farkle, who just so happens to be the offspring of Stuart Minkus (Lee Norris). Maya is no doubt the female Shawn, in beliefs and family life. It will be interesting to see how she deals with her issues as she enters adolescence and how this affects her relationship with Riley.
Despite my quibbles, I think Girl Meets World does have potential, not as a sequel to Boy Meets World, but as a show of its own. The true test of the show’s success will be its lasting power. Ten, fifteen years from now, will kids look back on this show and experience the same level of nostalgia we do when we catch an episode of Boy Meets World? That remains to be seen.
Girl Meets World returns at its regular timeslot on Friday, July 11, at 8: 30 p.m. on Disney Channel.