First of all, if you’re a Boy Meets World fan like me from way back, you are probably already watching its sequel, Girl Meets World, or at least the episodes with guest appearances by the original cast members. This and the light comedic pace should be enough to draw in viewers. However, what really sets Girl Meets World apart from all other series currently on the Disney Channel is more than that. Like its predecessor, Girl Meets World is telling stories about growing up and carefully teaching some hard lessons other shows wouldn’t dare touch, and it’s doing a fantastic job at being more than just a an entertaining “kids show.”
“Girl Meets Gravity”
Girl Meets World‘s Season 2 premiere still has fun with the show’s usual brand of comedy, but is a story about appreciation. Riley and Maya don’t appreciate how good they have it with Cory as their teacher until they see what other teachers are like. What results is what will most likely become a Mr. Feeny-like situation with Cory as the kids’ teacher forever. At the end of the episode, Cory shows his own appreciation for his upbringing when he calls Mr. Feeny just to check up on him, because you can still say thank you in the smallest ways.
At the same time, the show takes a risk and teaches the kids about appreciating people while they’re still alive. Topanga’s bakery business partner Mrs. Svorski passes away at the end of the episode. The girls spend most of the half hour feeling smothered by their parents, wanting some freedom and space. This is the argument that pretty much lasts from ages 11 through 18, and that’s not going to change. In the midst of all that push and pull is an important lesson about children appreciating the people in their lives who love and take care of them, because it could all disappear tomorrow.
“Girl Meets the New World”
We’ve arrived at the awkwardness of first love. Not everyone can be the star-crossed lovers Cory and Topanga were. More likely is the scenario where the expectation of having your first boyfriend or girlfriend takes over, making everything awkward. Riley and Lucas confront their feelings for each other under peer pressure, and reluctantly agree to enter into a relationship. It takes Topanga all of ten seconds to realize these two aren’t ready to be in a relationship, and that if and when they are, it needs to happen naturally. Relationships are complicated, that does not change as you get older, it only gets worse. That’s why it’s so important that an emphasis is put on holding together friendships first.
“Girl Meets the Secret of Life”
Now this episode really took me by surprise. Disney Channel hasn’t been afraid to take some risks with dipping into more serious material in the last few years, but they still have to tow the line between necessary learning and age appropriate. Girl Meets World did exactly that with an episode that touched on secrets, expulsion from school, and even bullying and physical violence. When an old friend of Lucas’ transfers to Cory’s class, the kids find out their friend Lucas was expelled from his previous school, but they never get a clear answer as to why. The reason isn’t as important as the conclusion, which is that whoever Lucas used to be, he isn’t anymore.
Kids on the verge of adolescence are going to learn the difficult lesson that people change, but it can be for the better if they change by learning from those who care about them. Peyton Meyer shines in this episode when confronted with the idea of solving a problem with physical violence, instead choosing to walk away. Let’s face it, the older kids get, the more dangerous their world becomes. It would be easy to have the show pretend that as long as kids stick together nothing bad will ever happen; but bullying exists, kids are tempted to solve their problems with more than just words, and it’s impossible to shield them from that forever.
“Girl Meets Pluto”
Anytime Shawn Hunter is on screen, you know it’s going to be a fantastic episode. The premise was set up last season that Maya and the Matthews would like Shawn to one day be Maya’s father. Is it a lofty goal? Absolutely. Whether or not it’s an impossibility is a question that may take the whole season to answer. The subject of a time capsule Shawn, Cory, and Topanga buried in high school brings the past and the present together. Shawn is finally forced to take a look at his past (particularly with ex-girlfriend Angela) and see how different, or rather how frozen, his life has become in the last 15 years. For adults, it’s sometimes difficult to look back at the person you were and realize you didn’t end up with the life you thought you would. For a kid like Maya, it’s almost painful to hope for a happy future.
That’s the point of being young though, not being afraid to dream even when it seems impossible. When you’re an adult, it’s actually easier to change your fate because you now have the resources and the life experience to say “I’m not completely happy, and there’s something I can do to change that.” The lightbulb finally goes on when Shawn realizes this could mean a life with Maya and her mother Katy. This episode’s lesson was on the importance of not being afraid to dream, and let’s face it, Mr. Feeny and the “Feeny Call” returning were the icing on the cake!
“Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels”
There’s always that one big fight between best friends, the strongest ones always have one. In fact, it might even be necessary so that kids know which of their friendships they’ll be able to count on in the most difficult times. This episode of Girl Meets World brought back Will Friedle as Cory’s brother Eric (who apparently is now an elected Mayor?) to act as mediator for the kids’ conflict. Subtopics of truth, right and wrong, loyalty, and the insecurity that comes with growing up also emerge. Despite his unorthodox methods, Eric helps the kids to see their conflict isn’t with each other, it’s with their own insecurities. How you support each other through those fears is what makes lasting friendships. All hail Mr. Squirrels!
And that was just in one week! Gather the family around for the rest of Season 2. Big lessons and big returns are coming, and I for one cannot wait.
[Photo via Disney Channel]
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