The Lessons I Didn’t Learn from Boy Meets World

When I was growing up I was always the baby of the group, so that means that I watched shows and movies that were not intended for my age. When I was a third-grader, my older sister and cousin became obsessed with the show Boy Meets World, so naturally, I followed suit and started watching it. Boy Meets World, a show about the life of Cory Matthews, his two best friends, his brother, and the adults present in their lives. The Matthews were a normal family, with a mom, a dad, and three children. They lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia and dealt with the problems that most people faced. The show ran from the early 90’s to 2000 and took place during their middle school, high school, and college days. Every episode, the main characters would get into trouble and by the end, they would have to be taught a life lesson from their teacher, Mr. Feeny. Mr. Feeny taught them to life lessons that could pertain to the intended audience, about love, heartbreak, family, and really any problem you could face.

While Boy Meets World is a coming of age story, I definitely didn’t catch on to that until I watched it again as a college student (yes, I re-watched the whole series last year). To me, Boy Meets World was a not a story of friends learning the lessons of life and growing up, it was just simply about friends having fun together, because while 8-year-old me was watching it I didn’t understand the problems they were going through (it didn’t help that when I started watching it they were already in college). In fact, my favorite episodes were not the episodes where the characters were closer to my age, it was the late high school and college days, I loved being able to watch the 18 to 22 characters deal with the problems relevant to their age. Other than the humor of it being a show about friends finding themselves in situations, the attractiveness of the characters was a huge take-away for me.  The only other thing I can remember taking away from the show, is that my sister, cousin, and I had huge (almost Backstreet Boys size) crushes on the characters, like Shawn and Jack.

To us, we just wanted to be like the cast of Boy Meets World. To get into trouble by having fun with your best friends, and if we ever decided to play Boy Meets World, no one would want to be Topanga, just like the Griffin article discussed that girls would stray away from playing Polly Crockett (155). We would fight over the coveted roles of Eric and Shawn, because they were the most comedic and, to us, cool. Cory, the more levelheaded of the bunch, was considered boring and we didn’t want to play the person with more of a moral compass. However, strangely, we wouldn’t mind pretending to be Mr. Feeny, the person who taught each life lesson in every episode, but to us, it was a way to add humor to our play world. Since we didn’t take it the lessons that were taught on the show seriously, and I think that is really were we strayed from the original intent. As the show is supposed to be a coming of age story, the viewers are supposed to learn the important lessons right along with the cast, but to us it was just a way to end the crazy scheme that the friends had decided to do in that certain episode.

Merchandise for Davy Crockett, was one of the most important facets of the fad, with the kids wearing coonskin hats while “playing” Davy Crockett, but I don’t really remember Boy Meets World merchandise being a huge selling point for us, mostly because I don’t think there was much (112). We did have the posters of the cast that we tore out of magazines on our wall. Since the show had not been put out on VHS (the show was just released on DVD a few years ago), we would tape the marathons that played on Disney, so that we could watch the hilarity on our own time. Having a few episodes on tape would also help us “play” Boy Meets World, because no matter when we needed a refresher, we could watch our favorite episodes and reenact them.

Boy Meets World spinoff Girl Meets World is in the works, so there have been a lot of articles about the original show. Like this one: which reminded me of some of the lessons that I definitely didn’t take away from the show as an 8-year-old.


3 thoughts on “The Lessons I Didn’t Learn from Boy Meets World

  1. She was the smartest and definitely more of the realist in the group. She acted as the more stereotypical girl, always trying to get the boys to stop doing whatever stupid thing they were up to in that episode. While the show really needed that one character to bring the others back to Earth, we really didn’t want to be her. To us, she was a boring character, too similar to what was supposed to be expected of us in real life. Especially for me, I hated getting into trouble when I was little, so when I got to play a character, I remember I didn’t want to be someone so similar to me. Being able to play the crazy and non-inhibited boys, was just a way that I got to use my imagination more and pretend to be something that I wasn’t, it was definitely more exciting and fun to do.

  2. As someone who is also obsessed with Boy Meets World, I resonated with a lot of your comment. It is interesting to think about how they portrayed Topanga. As the one character on the show, who as you said brought the others back down to earth, she was often portrayed as overly bossy and nerdy. In the context of the reading we did for class today, I think this says a lot about how women were being portrayed in media in the 90’s. While Topanga was clearly a strong and independent female character, the show did not necessarily show this as a good thing, especially in the early episodes. Topanga often got made fun of for how smart she was while Cory, Eric and Shawn were shown as the funny when they goofed off and did poorly in school. Clearly, this affected your own (and mine too) interpretation of the show, Topanga was never shown as the fun character so why would you want to copy her? Is it clear I have watched too much Boy Meets World?

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