PTBN’s Tribute To 1994 – Boy Meets World by Jason Sherman

For anyone near my age range…there is a show that came out in 1993 that really affected and touched many of us and still stick with us to this day…and that show happens to be Boy Meets World.

               Now I know, you must be saying to yourself, “Jason, this is a 1994 project…Boy Meets World debuted in 1993!” and to that I say…stop. Season 1 of the show is a completely different show then it ended up being. I count it, but its not the same at ALL. Season 2, which DID start in 1994, was the start of the Boy Meets World that we all came to know and love.

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               What can I say about this show? It gave us every range of emotion possible. Humor, sadness, joy…it brought everything. Sure, its supposed to be a lighthearted comedy about a kids adolescence and for the most part it was, but there was so much more than that. Being in that sweet spot among other 90’s gems such as Family Matters, Step by Step and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it was the television block kids and teenagers of that era gravitated to every Friday night…and in my opinion, Boy Meets World was the bright shining light of that block. Disagree? You may, but the fact that it has endured MUCH longer than all those other shows through syndication on both the Disney Channel and ABC Family, to all the streaming services now…it’s a show that still resonates and yes, as I re-watched the entire series earlier this year, it absolutely still holds up. I mean, it even spawned a not as good spinoff for the Disney Channel with some of the original cast named “Girl Meets World”, based around the daughter of the main characters, Corey Matthews and Topanga Lawrence.

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               Let’s discuss the characters, starting with the titular “Boy” of Boy Meets World…Corey Matthews. Clever casting of Ben Savage in this role, kinda playing off his older brother, Fred Savage’s, character in the show the Wonder Years. Corey was a great character. A normal kid with a good heart. He always saw the best in people and he always tried to be the best person he possibly could be. We saw him, as well as everyone else in the cast, grow right before our very eyes every week. He was the lynchpin of this show and it showed. Every other main characters main connection was through him. His girlfriend/wife, his best friend, his brother…he was always the nucleus.

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               Now, as many people my age can tell you, Topanga Lawrence, played by the lovely Danielle Fishel, was very hache mache. Topanga would probably rank in the top 4 as far as many people’s first crush, much like a Kelly Kapowski. Her character is very, different. Season 1…she was very odd. A beatnick. An 11 year old hippy. You would of never guessed watching Boy Meets World in the beginning where it would eventually end up. They always allude to the history of Corey and Topanga being together since the very beginning but watching season 1 that wasn’t the case at all. Topanga was the smartest of the group. An overachiever and her and Corey were pretty perfect. Complimented each other very well and still hold up as one of my favorite Television couples there has been. 

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               My personal favorite character is that of Shawn Hunter, played by Rider Strong. Shawn was Corey’s best friend, his confidant. Their friendship, their bond, is the strongest friendship on screen. Idealistic opposite people, Corey and Shawn were always there for each other no matter what. Shawn had a bit of a rough upbringing, he was somewhat a “wrong side of the tracks” kinda person. Raised in a trailer park, abandoned by his mother and periodically by his father…he always had a wonderful support system and always had people to take care of him whether it be the Matthews family or his guardian for a couple season, teacher Mr. Turner. The evolution of his character is kinda mind boggling. He was originally kind of an idiot, definite slacker, the too cool for school type…but as time went on it was revealed that Shawn is VERY smart, a poet, a writer. He changed and evolved the most out of everyone.

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               Most people’s favorite character is the one of Corey’s older brother, Eric Matthews, played by the charming Will Friedle. Eric started as a bit of a cool, smart, cocky ladies man. He actually devolved and its like, him and Shawn kinda flip-flopped as far as character traits go. Eric is always a fan favorite and has many of the shows most memorable moments, like “little bro, life is tough, get a helmet” and of course who can forget Plays With Squirrles.

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               Feeny…FEENY…FEEEE-EEEEE-EEEENY. The famous Feeny call wallowed out by Eric for the neighbor, teacher, professor, principal, mentor and friend…George Feeny played by William Daniels. Always a hard ass, always teaching, there is no more important character or presence to the show than that of Mr. Feeny. Always there to give advice, always there to guide everyone in the proper direction. There is an absolute reason that the very last scene of this show on the series finale focused on him and the classroom. The connection between him and these kids was…special. I, for one, love William Daniels and George Feeny, and I hope you do too.

               There were other important characters…Corey and Eric’s parents, Amy and Alan. Their sister, Morgan. Shawn’s brother Jack. Jack and Eric’s roommate, Rachel. Shawn’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Angela. Mr. Turner, Minkus, Griff, Harley, Frankie and Joey. So many memorable characters.

               Look at the list of actors that kind of got their start on Boy Meets World. The late Brittany Murphy played Topanga’s best friend in the very beginning of the series. Adam Scott played school bully, Griff. Linda Cardellini, Hawkeye’s wife from the Avengers films, played Lauren…the girl that briefly came between Corey and Topanga. Numerous already known guest stars like members of the band The Monkees, Candice Cameron-Bure, Fred Savage, Kerri Russell. And this being Place to be Nation, I would be remised in not mention the wrestling tie-ins with the show…like the late Vader being a recurring character of Frankie’s dad…with appearances from Jake “The Snake” Roberts and later on, Mick Foley!

               Some of the most memorable episodes of the show touched upon break-ups, drinking, death. The story arch of the brief break-up between Corey and Topanga was some of the best television at that, or any other time. The death of Shawn and Jack’s dad Chet, played by the ultra talented Blake Clark, was one of the saddest episodes of television I can recall seeing. The episodes with Shawn battling with alcohol were VERY intense for a TGIF teen based sitcom. One of my favorite episodes was a ‘Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer’ spoof featuring Will Friedle’s girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Love Hewitt. The wedding episode where Corey and Topanga finally tie the knot. And of course…the series finale which if you loved the show was an absolute tear jerker. It was like, a highlight reel on the history of the show.

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 I actually had the opportunity to meet some of the cast members earlier this year at a convention in Orlando named Megacon. Ben Savage, Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong and Will Friedle were all there. Unfortunately, by the time I got over there…Danielle and Rider were already gone for the day but I got to meet the Boy of Boy Meets World and his brother. Both were delightful people and loved talking about the show and the time spent on the show. It was a highlight for me and I can only hope that I have the opportunity to meet Rider and Danielle at another time down the line.

               This show is so important to me. Easily in my top five series’ of all time. I highly recommend it to anyone that hasn’t seen it. Can it be silly, can it be stupid? Sure, of course. Remember, it was aimed at teenagers after all. But it has a lot of heart. Its genuinely funny. It has moments of realism and can be very, VERY intense with many serious subject matters. Stream it! Give it a watch if you never have! Its on Hulu now and im assuming will stay there or move to Disney+ when that launches. Its always a show I will go back to every few years and will always be special to me. And I part with the final words from the show…I love you all…class dismissed.

Author: Andrew Atherton