Like most people of a certain age, I grew up watching Boy Meets World obsessively. Missing ABC’s TGIF lineup on a Friday night was a crime on par with disparaging the plot of Clueless, and murder. Unfortunately, unlike the rest of my ‘90s-era peers, I never became a fully-actualized adult, and still shame-watch Boy Meets World reruns on YouTube at least three times a week. I wish I could say I did this ironically, but there is nothing ironic about eating your ex-roommate’s leftover wedding cake under the covers while watching Cory lose his shit over how beautiful Topanga is at 2 in the morning on a Wednesday night.
The trouble is, I didn’t end up with a Boy Meets World adulthood. As a kid, I studied the relationships on that show and put them on the highest pedestal imaginable. I grew up thinking you should marry your first love, remain eternally inseparable with your elementary school bestie, and graduate from college with an indiscriminate major so you can move into a nice house with a white picket fence and dryly sarcastic unthreatening neighbors. Today, my life looks nothing like that. And guess what? It’s still awesome.
Now Disney Channel has launched a reboot of Boy Meets World (about Cory and Topanga’s 12-year-old daughter—which means they had been out of college for approximately one day before Topanga got preggers and had to give up all her life dreams, I guess). I find myself wishing my favorite childhood television show had explored some of the themes I actually ended up dealing with in my adult life. Maybe Girl Meets World will heed this note, and dirty up its squeaky-clean reputation in favor of real life and common sense. If so, here are a few "lost episodes" I wish I’d seen in the original lineup. Take note, producers
SEASON 5: Polyamorous
After Cory kisses sexy ski bunny Lauren on a school ski trip, he and Topanga realize that it’s natural to want to experiment with other people, even if they are totally in love with each other. Topanga starts to tell everyone that she and Cory are in “an open relationship,” and tons of guys ask her on dates. At first Cory gets jealous, but they set up very communicative terms: no exchanging fluids, no spending the night, and a 100 percent honesty policy. Cory and Topanga learn that they can have fun, intimate relationships with lots of people; in fact, talking about their new and exciting love lives actually brings them closer together. They even set up a couple’s profile on an online dating site, you know, just to see what happens.
Meanwhile, Eric says, “I’ve been doing this forever. Why don’t I get a whole plotline about my love life?” He stress eats. It’s hilarious.
SEASON 6: The Elephant In The Room
Angela has been dating Shawn for a while now, but even at college, she can’t help but notice that she is literally the only person of color on the entire show. At some point, her dad will make a cameo appearance, but she doesn’t know that yet, and she’s starting to panic. Not only is she the only person of color, but race isn’t even discussed on Boy Meets World. EVER. There are a few episodes in early seasons where some (deeply offensive and troubling) comments are made about people who live in trailer parks, which suggests some kind of potential social commentary about class, but really, this is a middle class white world and Angela is just along for the ride. When Angela tries to talk to Shawn about it, he says, “Baby, I don’t see color. We live in a post-racial world.” Angela slaps him in the face and they break up, because, obviously. This episode is super-meta.
SEASON 2: The Talk
Amy has been sneaking cigarettes behind the house while Alan is working at the grocery store, and Morgan, who isn’t old enough to be in school yet (she may not ever be old enough to be in school, come to think of it), catches her. Confronted with her nasty habit, Amy breaks down crying and tells Morgan that being a mom is very stressful. She had always dreamed of going to college and learning about music and sound production, but instead she married her high school sweetheart on a whim, and while she doesn’t regret it (because she loves Morgan, Cory, and Eric very much), she does want more for her daughter. Morgan is confused, because she’s, like, five years old, but honestly, it’s really good for Amy to get all this off her chest. She decides that she and Morgan should take a watercolor class together. Mr. Feeney agrees that this would be good for Amy. Amy tells Mr. Feeney that she doesn’t really need a man’s approval to do what she wants to do anymore, but she thanks him anyway.
Meanwhile, Cory and Topanga fail at carrying a bag of flour (symbolizing a baby) around for Healthy Life Choices Class. They realize that they should take their time before becoming adults. They should definitely not get pregnant one day after they graduate from college. This much is crystal clear.
SEASON 7: Rachel’s Lie
Rachel and Jack have been dating for a month or so, but when Rachel wants to listen to her Tegan and Sara CD on repeat rather than make out with Jack for the hundredth time, he gets frustrated and yells at her. Rachel finally confesses that she only started dating Jack because she felt bad for him after his father died, and felt like it would make him feel better to have someone to lean on. But now she’s realizing that she’s not being true to herself, and honestly, how blind was he? She spent most of her time daydreaming about the pit bull mix she wanted to adopt and staying late after softball practice. She was not only clearly a lesbian, she was also kind of a cliche about it. Jack is shocked, but open-minded, and actually, this makes the whole roommate situation a lot easier. Like Three’s Company but more honest.
SEASON 6: Kale University
Eric and his schoolwork have never really seen eye-to-eye. There’s a good chance that he suffers from a learning disability (they’re fairly common and definitely treatable with accommodations and modifications to the general education curriculum), but the idea that a gorgeous leading man might require basic special education services is too taboo for network television. Instead, Eric has spent his whole life blaming himself for the fact that studying is difficult for him and that he struggles in strictly academic settings. He briefly toyed with the idea of being a weatherman, but his ineptitude increased as he aged (and as the series required more and more comic relief). One day, a beautiful girl with long dreadlocks and no deodorant stops by the campus center at Pennbrook University hoping to become the college’s main tomato supplier. It turns out she runs an organic farm just down the way, and they’re looking for more able-bodied farmhands to learn about permaculture and live off the land. Eric has never heard anything more appealing. Within a week, he has answered his true calling and become a full-fledged modern organic farmer in a local environment. He’s finally found a job that fits his exact skill set, and while he briefly upsets his parents by rejecting the Western ideal of higher academia, he ends up teaching them a little something about themselves: when you follow your heart and do what makes you happy, you can’t go wrong.
Mr. Feeney is still kind of disappointed, but whatever.
Previously: Children's Books for Young Feminists