I should clarify why I mockingly wrote my last post about nostalgia. Girl Meets World registered on the hype train a month or so back when they talked about bringing the show forward with much of the original cast of the original nineties era show Boy Meets World. I never particularly had anything for that show, but Danielle Fishel was admittingly pretty hot. But when we all sit around today and talk about the show, all we really remember is her character, Topanga, and William Daniels’ Mr. Feeny. Oh sure, there is Ben Savage, but I mean, your mileage may vary. Most people now probably confuse him with Shia LaBeouf. Even for me, much of the show is a blur. I don’t remember the plot, or any specific scenes, or any specific lines that mattered, and I’m assuming most people don’t. We just remember that block of television where it was that, Family Matters, Step by Step, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and every other nineties sitcom. Try watching any of those now. You’ll wonder why anyone in their right fucking mind dressed like that back then, much like how we made fun of our parents for the sixties and seventies.
The root problem of Girl Meets World is two-fold. First, it’s on Disney. BMW was on ABC. Yes, they’re the same company now, but back then, they weren’t, and given the differences between sitcoms today and sitcoms of yesterday, unless they go for a perfect format replication, it’s just going to come out with the usual Disney flavor that ends up trite and useless to anyone over the age of fourteen. You can place the original cast in there and run some NOSTALGIA HYPE all you want, but it’s as criminal as Cartoon Network rebooting The Powerpuff Girls in modern flashy animation, it loses what made it good in the first place. I’ll credit Michael Jacobs for returning to do the show, but not having much on his plate in the last twenty years, does he hope to bring back the magic?
Second is the show itself. Adolescent sitcoms aren’t new for Disney, and certainly it’s their bread and butter so to speak, but adolescence today is not what it was twenty years ago. That’s fine. It shouldn’t be the same. But that means that the usual tricks from then will not work here. No one hangs out at the local pizza shop and plugs quarters into the Pac-Man machine. I’m pretty sure they understand this, but I don’t think their intended fanbase does. People with rose-colored nostalgia goggles on are like Joss Whedon fans, they want each and every new show from him to be Firefly, and huff and puff and return to their Browncoat Erotica when it isn’t. Once the glasses come off, viewers are going to realize they’re watching Hanna Montana Again instead of Boy Meets World: The Sequel.
Instead, I think the better route might have been to pitch their daughter’s age lower, between six and ten. I don’t see many family sitcoms these days involving the trials and tribulations of younger girls in today’s changing social climate. You liked Full House back then because they were cute, and dealt with cute-little-girl problems that didn’t require you cocking your shotgun for a standard Daddy’s Girl talk with the prom date. Disney has had a plethora of tween/teen programming, and I somehow think GMW isn’t going to do anything that wasn’t covered by Disney’s infamous alumni-turn-pornstars. A six-year-old daughter of Cory and Topanga facing the everyday life of being an elementary school student in the twenty-first century seems like the sort of angle I might watch, being someone who plans to be a parent soon, and wants to have a cute-as-buttons daughter.
But I think more importantly than that, Disney has had an especially tough time in my opinion convincing families that their shows convey positive messages to their intended audiences. When you see their stars graduate the network and try to become the next Madonna or Gaga, it tends to really send a message that Disney is just out to turn a buck, and doesn’t care how they do it. We’re all hot-and-bothered about conveying positive messages to young women in the media today to become positive forces in the world as they get older, while conveying to young men that the old-world style of sexism and bravado have little importance on the future of society. GMW is in a unique position to tackle that with the grown-up versions of characters from twenty-years past, raising characters of the now, using the lessons they were taught back then, but having to account for twenty years of social change and progression. It’s the ultimate transitional television show, and it’s likely going to be wasted on the Disney Machine. I could be wrong, maybe I will be wrong, but I have the feeling I will be right.
I probably won’t watch it, because it isn’t really my cup-of-tea, but I am sure I will see more of it as it airs thanks to being a thirty-something on social media, among a sea of people eager to cash in on their childhood for the eighty-ninth time. I guess for as much as I value my childhood, I really don’t care about the particulars. I got my classic games, and the good memories. It’s about all I can hope for until time travel becomes a reality and I can go back and enjoy classic arcades before you console fucks destroyed it.