Attention, children of the nineties! This one is for you! If you’re like me, Boy Meets World was one of those shows that defined your childhood. The never-ending sage of Cory and Topanga was just about the most compelling thing my adolescent mind had ever seen; I tuned in every week just to see what was going to happen next with those two. The fact that the supporting cast was also phenomenal was simply a bonus. The Boy Meets World cast will reunite this year, and acquire some new members, in a spin-off entitled Girl Meets World which will feature Cory and Topanga’s daughter, Riley. I’m anxious to see whether or not this team can recreate the magic.
On June 7th, the ATX Television Festival gathered cast members Ben Savage (Cory Matthews), Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter), Matthew Lawrence (Jack Hunter), Maitland Ward (Rachel McGuire), Betsy Randle (Amy Matthews), Lily Nicksay (young Morgan Matthews), Trina McGee (Angela Moore), as well as creator Michael Jacobs, for a reunion where they reminisced about the past and pondered the future.
The reunion, sadly, had to come to an end. While the bulk of the case departed, Jacobs and Savage stayed behind for a press conference. The pair answered questions about what fans could look forward to from the project. A new spin on the story puts Cory and Topanga’s daughter, Riley (Rowan Blanchard), center stage as her adolescence is chronicled just like her parents’ before her.
A reporter asked how much of the new show will refer back to story lines and jokes from the original, and Jacobs had a firm answer:
"‘Girl’ is gonna be its own show — I think that’s really important … I think it’s really necessary for the audience to understand that if you do a reunion show, and that’s the tone and tenor of the piece, you get to spendthis lovely hour with us, and we’ll be as charming and entertaining as we possibly can be and hopefully you’ll go out and you’ll say, ‘that was great with them.’ Now come back tomorrow; now come back the next day; [you say] ‘well, they’re sort of older and we don’t like ‘em as much the third time.’”
He then added:
"My feeling is that the premise of the show is about these two girls having a friendship, going off into the world we now know — ‘Girl Meets World’ will be unique from ‘Boy Meets World’ in that way. However, it is the child of an original program, and there is no way that I’m not going to include everybody who wants to be included on this piece, because they’re the genesis of the piece. For me, we may build a new house, but we’re building it on ground, and that ground was ‘Boy.’"
Savage revealed his sappy side when asked why he decided to come back to the show:
"The most interesting tweets we’ve gotten are like, ‘I watched “Boy Meets World” with my dad and I’m so excited to watch “Girl Meets World” with my daughter.’ And I just think it’s so wonderful to see how it crossed generations. That’s why we’re really excited about it."
Not everyone is completely convinced that this sequel season will be able to match the first’s charm, however, and Savage addressed those concerns:
"I think that it’s important to stress that we’re not doing ‘Boy Meets World,’ we’re doing ‘Girl Meets World,’" he pointed out. "This generation grew up with ‘Boy Meets World’ and it means something very special to them as it means something special to us. And we want to try and do something for the next generation, and we want to give them the show that they can grow up with and have their own memories with, and so that’s what we’re doing."
When asked what current Cory is like after 13 years of absence, Savage stated:
"We’re still figuring it out. I think the writers and the show have done a wonderful job of staying true to who we are as people. What’s Cory like now? I guess he’s what Ben is like now. It’s all been worked out — we’re taking it one step at a time, we’re being very cautious, very careful to honor the old show, trying to work within this new dynamic in this new time we’re all living in."
Fishel and Savage were famous for their uncanny on-screen chemistry, and Savage was not concerned about their ability to find that again:
"I think that, with everyone you see before you [on the panel], we’re a family and we’ve spent so much time together and we know each other’s cues so well that it was very easy working with Danielle again, said Savage. "We picked up exactly where we left off 13 years ago, so it was really nice."
Jacobs doesn’t want us to think that the show is going to just be all fluff, a fact he made clear during the press conference:
"‘Girl Meets World’ has got to be about the friendship of these two children as couched by somebody who has been through it and is still confused," said Jacobs. "If they’re great parents, I got no show. If they’re learning in that generation, Ben continues to learn, so does Danielle — together, they have always been better than separately. That will continue. However, Ben and Danielle, their challenges of what’s going on today and how children have to be raised and protected today … those are some pretty extreme challenges."
Jacobs also teases us with grim news for Cory’s unceasingly loyal best friend and fan-favorite, Shawn:
"Nothing good happens to Shawn, that’s all I can tell you," Jacobs chuckled. "Rider reacting to the hurdles that keep growing is what I think is compelling about Shawn. Rider once said something — and I really take to heart everything that these people say -– he said, ‘I keep Shawn in the cellar, and every once in a while, I’ll go down and I’ll visit him.’ And I thought to myself, ‘boy, even Rider keeps Shawn in the cellar,’ so I think nothing good is ever gonna happen for Shawn."
Savage and Jacobs agree that in this day and age of reality television and people entranced by pregnant teenagers, a show like this is much needed.
"I do think that people are, not just nostalgic, but are eager to watch a type of show like ‘Boy Meets World,’ and I don’t think there are a lot of shows like that on TV anymore,” Savage mused. “And in spite of how much things have changed in the world, people still want a show that they can relate to and that’s comforting and that can make them laugh and that’s fun and that they can learn from. So I think that that’s what we’ve found right now and what we’re working really hard to make sure that we pull off.”
Jacobs has faced challenges when trying to blend the world of Boy Meets World, which went off the air thirteen years ago, to these bizarre times we live in now:
"It is simply, in the writing of it and the conception of it, not the same world. Not close. What kids know, what I personally believe enters very little into how the world works, because I look around and I’m astonished every day at what comes out of the four big screens: the television screen, the telephone screen, the movie screen and the computer screen," he stated. "What kids have to understand in those forming heads, it’s too much, it’s just too much. To compete on a playground in an elementary school, what they need to know, what they feel they need to know has to be addressed, it has to be written to. The actuality is, it’s a challenge for me and for my writing staff to simply document reality and to do it in an entertaining way that I can slip in a lesson without it being thought of as a lesson … That dynamic alone makes the new show worth watching for me."
Here’s hoping this team is able to replicate the magic behind this beloved show!