News and Notes

What's So Great About 'Boy Meets World'?

News of a spin-off has TV fans (of a certain age) all abuzz. Here's why.

Disney Channel's decision to develop a sequel-slash-spin-off of Boy Meets World — the Michael Jacobs-created coming-of-age comedy that ran on ABC from 1993 to 2000 — is hardly revolutionary. These days, '90s nostalgia is in full force: The past six months have seen a Spice Girls reunion, a rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon, and a revamped Furby arriving just in time to terrify a new generation of children this Christmas.

Yet when word of Girl Meets World hit the Internet last month, BMW fans didn't shrug and grumble that there's nothing new under the sun. Instead, they responded with levels of excitement normally reserved for Tolkien adaptations and YA best-sellers. (In the month of November, Boy Meets World stories accounted for nearly half a million page views on EW.com.) The pilot probably won't even be greenlit until January, so an airdate is anyone's guess. But GMW — which will feature Boy Meets World's central couple, Cory and Topanga, all grown up and raising kids of their own — has become one of 2013's most hotly anticipated series.

Why? Because even 12 years after its finale, Boy Meets World still resonates with the generation who grew up watching it, much like The Brady Bunch or Saved by the Bell before it. When it debuted, BMW was a refreshing change of pace from the cheap laughs that dominated the rest of ABC's TGIF lineup. (Remember Steve Urkel's ridiculous ''Did I do that?'' catchphrase on Family Matters?) It never talked down to its young audience. It didn't sugarcoat the tough parts of growing up — parents losing their jobs or friends getting rejected from colleges. And its lead, amiable Everykid Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), was one of the most relatable guys on TV. (Savage's character was totally average — his older brother was the popular one; his younger sister was the cute one; his best friend was the edgy one. Cory was simply a B student with an unruly head of hair.) In its later years, the show morphed into a quirky dramedy that married an absurd sense of humor (Plays With Squirrels!) with soapy melodrama (Let's elope!). BMW was also surprisingly genre-savvy and self-referential for a show geared toward tweens, making it perfect for the Gen-Y'ers who would turn meta into an adjective. Then there's Topanga (Danielle Fishel), the flower child-turned-overachiever who served as many millennials' first crush.

Thanks to syndicated reruns, YouTube clips, and obsessive GIFs, we've never really had to say goodbye to Boy Meets World. But the prospect of checking in with the couple — now raising the 14-year-old Elliot and 13-year-old Riley, the titular ''girl'' — is still awfully appealing. Last week, Savage and Fishel both officially signed on to reprise their roles on Girl Meets World. As of press time, no other original cast members have followed their lead — though Rider Strong, who played (sorta) bad boy Shawn Hunter, said in a statement Nov. 28 that some alumni may stop by for guest spots. (Feeny! Fee-hee-heeenay!) And in a Nov. 26 open letter to fans, Fishel vowed that she, Jacobs, and Savage ''will make GMW with the same honesty, innocence, and intelligence that you learned to expect from BMW.''

For Cory, Topanga, and nostalgia's sake, let's hope so.

Originally posted Dec 07, 2012 Published in issue #1237 Dec 07, 2012 Order article reprints