‘Boy Meets World,’ Meet ‘Girl Meets World’

Like any Ecto Cooler-blooded 90s kid, I am over-the-moon thrilled about the Boy Meets World spinoff hitting the airwaves. I just had to catch the pilot of Girl Meets World – airing tonight on The Disney Channel – on iTunes. It was pretty cute, and I loved seeing Cory and Topanga again, but make no mistake: this is not your mother’s Boy Meets World. (Oh Lordy, today’s children literally have parents who grew up on Boy Meets World; I cannot.)

I’m biased, but I think the 90s were a golden age for kids’ shows. Most, like Boy Meets World, were fairly realistic in terms of sets, wardrobe, plotlines, and how the kids looked. Girl Meets World is a product of the modern Disney factory, which is very NEON! and SLAPSTICK! and SASSY COMEBACKS! and IDIOT PARENTS! and MUSICAL TIE-INS!   I was hoping the overall vibe of Boy Meets World would be there, but the pilot felt sort of like a Disney show that Cory and Topanga somehow landed in. Also I know it’s not really the case, but they still seem way too young to be the parents of a middle schooler to me. Still, Girl Meets World was cute enough that I’ll be watching again. In case you want to be prepared for what’s ahead, here are the main differences between Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World:

Badass Friend

Boy Meets World

Shawn was the trailer-dwelling kid from a broken home – with a heart of gold, an eye for mischief, and the most perfect Patented Mid-90s Sad Puppy Haircut my 8-year-old self has ever seen.

Girl Meets World

The main character still has a more mischievous friend, but Maya isn’t a down-to-earth troublemaker from a blue-collar background. She’s supposed to be the one who always “goes farther than Riley,” – like Shawn was to Cory – but you can tell she’s “sassy” because she wears a lot of sequins and “worldly” because she rides the subway (we’ll get to that later).


Boy Meets World

The Matthews lives in suburban Philadelphia. Phillies games figure prominently into a few episodes, and Cory has a collection of Eagles’ jerseys (although he doesn’t properly pronounce it “Iggles”).  Delco, maybe?

Girl Meets World

Cory, Topanga and the kiddos live in New York City, which is where you set a show if you want 11-year-olds to think it’s cool. Well, that or near “the beach.” Any beach. The most unrealistic part of the pilot was tween Riley not being allowed to ride the subway yet. Like, I know some parents are probably weird about their kids riding the subway alone, but it seemed like Riley had never even been on it at all. Huh!? Although, maybe Cory had some traumatic experiences with SEPTA in his youth. We all have.

Theme Song

Boy Meets World

The early seasons featured a weird instrumental, kind of triumphant thing. Later on it switched to the theme song we all know and love, if only because the credits sequence spawned this internet exchange:

Girl Meets World

It’s an obvious attempt to start a Disney tv star-turned music career. And it sucks.


Boy Meets World

The neighbor/teacher/mentor/sage who guides/stalks Cory and his pals with a lot of tough love.

Girl Meets World

A pro-education ad model? A ghost? One of those. At the end of the pilot we see Feeny walk out of a stay-in-school poster to offer reassurances to Cory. First of all, why is he in an ad? Is he famous? And is he dead, or was that Cory’s imagination, or has he ratcheted up his stalking that much? Will all of Boy Meets World be the sad dream world of a lonely Cory after Topanga has ran off with Minkus, and Feeny is – along with his wife, kids, and teaching job – just one of his many delusions?


Boy Meets World

Big brother Eric was always one step ahead, providing guidance and some classic big-sibling animosity. First Morgan was a lovable idiot, and then Next Morgan was sort of sassy and tween-y.

Girl Meets World

It’s too early to tell if Riley’s little bro is going to be a precocious kid a la Olivia Huxtable, or a dumb little moppet like First Morgan. Unlike Cory, Riley has no same-sex older sib. This is partially to make it more believable that she doesn’t know stuff until Maya tells her, and partially because, maybe it’s just me, but they’re already really pushing it with Cory and Topanga having an 11-year-old.


Boy Meets World

The One True Topanga was a weird hippie kid who had a love-hate (or, like love-confusion?) relationship with Cory. She got progressively more normy through the years, but we still always loved her.

Girl Meets World

It appears that Topanga’s personality-ectomy is complete. She was only in a few scenes in the pilot, playing a super-generic supportive wife/mom. Maybe it will get better as the series progresses.

Nerdy Kid


Boy Meets World


Girl Meets World

Farkle – a classic attempt to reignite the “weird surname on a nerdy kid” – has a double-crush on Riley and Maya, and has the overall demeanor of Full House’s Derrick.

Over-Involved Teacher

Boy Meets World


Girl Meets World

Cory is Riley and Maya’s teacher, and as with Feeny, boundaries are crossed. As in, he allows Farkle to stop class to wax poetic on his crush on CORY’S OWN DAUGHTER – yet there’s nary a “oh my God, Dad, STOP” to be heard. It is weird. He also has sassy convos with Riley and Maya about not doing their homework. If I talked to my teacher, parent, or teacher/parent (yes, my mom taught 4th grade in my school and yes, the puberty unit WAS awesome, thanks for asking) there wouldn’t have been a laugh track.

The Parents

Boy Meets World

The Matthews are your classic 90s sitcom parents – tough when they need to be, but overall fair. They are neither super strict and old-fashioned, nor youthful “cool parents”

Girl Meets World

The parents are Cory and Topanga. I’m hoping that as the episodes progress they’ll be written as the logical adult extension of their Boy Meets World characters, not as a generic mom and dad. They do escape the dumb Disney parent thing so far, except for about a million awkward references to their daughter Riley “meeting the world,” which I hope was only a thing for the pilot.


5 thoughts on “‘Boy Meets World,’ Meet ‘Girl Meets World’

  1. I put on Boy Meets World a few weeks ago (if nothing else, this sequel has brought BMW back to Disney Channel’s primetime lineup. Related: the commercials on Disney Channel are the worst), and it happened to be the one where Topanga moved to Pittsburgh and then ran away to Cory’s. And I might have cried a little? I’d just forgotten how LOVING that show was. I think I took it for granted. But now with all of this “NEON! and SLAPSTICK! and SASSY COMEBACKS! and IDIOT PARENTS! and MUSICAL TIE-INS!” (dying at that) (being a camp counselor gave me a front seat to all of those things), I’d totally forgotten how nice it was to see how much Cory’s mom loved Topanga and how much they ALL loved Feeny and how much he loved them back. (If Feeny’s a ghost, I’m out. Of everything. Bye.) Also if this show thinks it can recapture the essence of Shawn Hunter just by making the best friend “rebellious,” then I don’t even know what to do.
    “Mommy, I made a mistake” is ICONIC.


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