Controversial opinion alert! First, I’d like to go on record that I’m a fan of both shows, for different reasons. Well, actually, the exact same reason. I grew up in the 90’s and I loved both Boy Meets World and Full House. I knew, like everyone else, that DJ belonged with Steve, Cory with Topanga, and took sage advice from Danny Tanner and Mr. Feeny in stride. So of course, to see any and all of these characters return to my television in my older age has been a delight. However, I’d be lying if I said that they were the same amount of delightful.
Girl Meets World has a lot of things going for it. It’s funny, the young actors are good, and seeing Cory and Topanga on my screen again regularly is wonderful. But, it seems like there is something missing. Riley and Maya are good characters, but as my brother said once, they’re “not dumb enough”. Boy Meets World was much more enjoyable to me because Cory, Shawn, and Eric were just not smart. At all. And that made the show funny, and relatable to any young boy who has ever done something stupid (i.e. all of them). I’m sure that Riley and Maya are relatable to today’s young women, but it just doesn’t resonate like the flagship series. For those naysayers who ask if Cory would still be doing dumb things if the show were about him, since I’ve actually watched the show, I can unequivocally say YES!
Girl Meets World has another problem. Girl Meets World is about the girls, and puts Cory and Topanga on the backburner. Now, on Disney Channel, this probably wouldn’t work any other way. But, it doesn’t make for much of a revival series (see: title). They’re attempting to reach a new audience. But instead of the show itself, the Easter Eggs turn out to be the best part of Girl Meets World. Brief mentions of “Griff Hawkins”, “Johnny Baboon”, “Undapants”, and the returns of Shawn, the Matthews family, Mr. Feeny, Jack, Minkus, Mr. Turner, and Harley Keiner become the moments that the older fans live for, but since it isn’t always enough to bring them back each week, it becomes more of a novelty or viral sensation. I enjoy the younger characters, but they aren’t enough to carry a show.
Fuller House has solved this problem. Fuller House understands simply enough that revivals are in right now. They seem to understand that ratings in the present time can be generated by full-on 90’s nostalgia and little else, and they’re not the only ones who do so (See: Gilmore Girls). Fuller House is a better revival series for one primary reason: they unabashedly embrace that label. Rather than put DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy in the background and make the series centered on their children, it appeals straight to the fans by offering them what they really want: more stories about DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy. They spend every episode further developing their established characters by answering questions like “Do DJ and Steve end up together?” (on the table but unlikely, much to my own chagrin) rather than maybe one or two episodes answering “Did Eric Matthews become Plays With Squirrels”? (in a way, yes).
Since Fuller House has embraced that structure, they don’t have to work so hard to bring back other fan favorite and obscure characters. Season 1 reintroduced us not only to Danny, Jesse, Joey, Becky, and Steve, but also the twins who played Nicky and Alex, and even Stephanie’s friend Harry Takayama. Being in San Francisco and centered on the older characters gives a lot more opportunity for appearances like this, which gives it the leg up on Girl Meets World.
In summary, Girl Meets World fails to capture the magic of the original series and what made it special. The new show is something different, and I still find it entertaining and have seen every episode. Fuller House, however, perfectly recaptures the tone and spirit of the flagship series. Even without either Olsen twin, Fuller House is exactly the revival series that 90’s kids have been searching for. The main difference is: Girl Meets World tries (and sometimes fails) to be its own thing, while Fuller House is unapologetically exactly what Full House was all along.
Girl Meets World airs Fridays on Disney Channel
Fuller House Season 2 Premieres Friday, December 9th on Netflix
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