Thursday, January 19, 2017

Can I Use That Curse Word Now?: Disney Channel and the Cancellation of Girl Meets World

A couple of years ago, I did something I hadn't done with regularity since about 1995....I watched a show on the Disney Channel.

Disney decided to reboot, or rather continue the story of Cory and Topanga from Boy Meets World This time, the story is about their daughter, Riley, and the show is called Girl Meets World.

Many cast members came back, including Rider Strong not only returning as Shawn Hunter, but (with his brother, Shiloh) also behind the camera.  Will Friedle not only brought back Cory's brother Eric but also wrote an episode. William Daniels, now bordering on his 90s, has shown up to continue to be a mentor to his students, and his student's children...slash students.

However, as of Friday, January 20th (my birthday, by the way.  How rude.), the Disney Channel will broadcast the "series finale" of Girl Meets World after only 3 seasons.

The Disney Channel, as a whole, is bright, garish, LOUD, and ridiculous to a degree I regularly find stunning. As I said, I haven't watched the channel regularly in YEARS, mainly because of this push to original entertainment suitable for the glittery trash bin.  I'm shocked the shows on this network do not induce seizures in children on a regular basis.

And that's just the look of these shows!  The content is always utter garbage. Girl Meets World, as much as the network allowed, tackled issues affecting teens in the here and now; the autism spectrum, cyberbullying, developing one's moral code, believing in yourself, hope, and thriving despite a less than perfect life.

But, sure, Disney, dealing with life with a famous twin is far more important.

The cast is also very different from the rest of the network.  There was a small amount of online protest at Sabrina Carpenter's having a singing career, but it's never impacted the show, with the exception of the theme song (which is fantastic) and allowing her to enrich her character here and there.  Rowan Blanchard is an intelligent young lady so utterly aware of her place as a role model to little girls (Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan could really take a lesson here). And the boys in this show are equally as good.  It's obvious the creators took a LOT of time and trouble to properly cast these parts.

Girl Meets World is a daisy in Times Square.  It was a show that should have heralded a massive change in the network.  A different story pace, a calmer aesthetic, more grounded characters.  Instead, though I can't confirm this, it seems the show and the network must have had a tug of war, trying to make the show match the network, instead of nurturing the show to be more like its predecessor.

And, no, I'm not saying old things are naturally better.  But Boy Meets World wasn't even a show that ran with the pack in the 90's.  It stood alone in the sitcom landscape.  Full House was cute, but rarely, if ever, made a statement.  Family Matters was constantly "a very special episode" until Urkel took over. (No offense to Urkel, I loved Urkel.)  Boy Meets World balanced a gentle, witty, humor that was still of its age, while at the same time did some pretty bold things, such as tackling the concept of an abusive parent, and cults (which you can easily deprogram someone from in a half an hour). Boy Meets World seemed to understand where it was and what it could do to shape its young audience while still never talking down to them.  Walt Disney would have been proud of it....

Eight seasons later, you can still sit back and look at it as a fine piece of television. You can pass it down a generation (through reruns on Freeform and MTV), that's a feat many shows can't do.

Girls Meets World wasn't given the Again, some of GMW's weaker moments, I feel, are more the result of the show trying to adhere to the Disney Channel's aesthetic.

I've gone the long way around, but this is just not right.  In a previous episode, "World Meets Girl", the cast interviewed the audience, and the international audience was encouraged to show the cast what the show means to them. And yet, this episode aired in the middle of the news that the show was being cancelled.  Disney let the cast, bonded through their experience on this wonderful little show, sit in limbo for MONTHS regarding the show's fate.

100%, the Disney Channel powers that be messed this up royally. 

The World needs Girls Meets World. Little girls need Riley, Maya, and Smackle. Little boys need Farkle, Lucas and Zay. And parents need to see that Cory and Topanga, like Allan and Amy Matthews, don't always have the answers, and that's ok. Maya gets to have hope that she can have a childhood like Shawn's, and see that Shawn turns out alright. Representation is a big buzzword right now.  Who is representing the normal (but goofy) teenager?

My goddaughter is 13 now.  Who is her Topanga?

Simple answer... Riley.

Currently, there are campaigns to try to move the show to either Freeform Netflix, or Hulu.  Take a look at the main fan website for more information.  They've also got a Facebook page to help you keep up to date on the fight to keep this show running.

We Boy Meets World/Girl Meets World fans owe a tremendous debt to creator Michael Jacobs.  And he has stated in an interview with The Wrap the show has the definite possibility of traveling to some place where it can grow a more, which is the best option.  Disney's biggest mistake, besides putting it on the Disney Channel in the first place, was not attaching it to BMW enough.  The show felt like a tightrope walk to let the original characters come in organically (very well played) and letting it stand on its own.  If Disney had known what it was doing, they would have let the show do what it was going to do, and re-run BMW alongside GMW so you could better see the themes dovetail and deepen through time. More than once, an episode of GMW seemed to take an episode of BMW and re-apply it with current needs.

Again, the link to find ways to help is

And as payment for your reading and are the terrible pictures I got of the cast at the 2015 D23 Expo.  I couldn't get in line to meet them, they'd already cut off the line by the time I got there. But, in waiting to meet up with the rest of my party, I was right next to their entrance. So I clicked off these shots quickly.

And here is a shot of the area in which the meet and greet took place.  It was awfully crowded, and while I was sorry I didn't get to see them, I was glad they were so popular. 

Let's all just hope for the best. Hope isn't for suckers.

1 comment:

  1. Seldom have I seen so many outlets cover the cancellation of a television show, but everywhere I turned the end of GMW was being discussed. A show with so much heart and depth was a gift and I'm sorry that the very parent company that should be cultivating that is plucking it from their soil. Extended families that love and support each other without snark was perhaps too lovely a concept for the network folks.