Boy, Meet World: 90’s Sitcoms, Revisited

One of the benefits of working frequently between the hours of 4 PM and 2 AM is that you are available to watch some great afternoon TV.  Recently, I discovered that MTV2, in addition to actually existing, shows two hours of Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World back-to-back from noon til 4.  As you’d imagine, this was a revelation and ever since I’ve been reliving some of my favorite childhood shows.  What follows is the first of several look-backs at some of those incredible shows and what made them so (not-so) great.

It should be clarified, Boy Meets World was never one of my must-watches as a kid.  Something about the show, even then, pissed me off.  Watching it as an ‘adult’, I’m now able to pinpoint exactly what that was: incredible amounts of unnecessary drama.

Maybe I’m imagining this, but I feel like there was a 3 to 4 season span where every single scene that involved Shawn Hunter* had something to do with him doing one of the following things: 1) Telling Cory he “just doesn’t understand”… 2) Running away, but “this time I mean it”… 3) Feeling like an outcast for no particular reason.

Looking back, I think what made it so frustrating on the whole was that all the characters changed almost completely throughout the course of the show.  Except of course for Mr. Feeny but his refusal to either move to another part of town or simply get a job at any other college in the United States has to serve as a demerit on his personal character.  Hard to take life lessons from a guy that decides it’s a good career move to teach the same group of kids from 6th grade to college graduation.  Anyway…

Cory starts out as the plucky, precocious one looking to find his way (listening to Phillies games on the radio in class, what a kidder!) and ultimately winds up married to his high school sweetheart (fine) and acting like a goofy, old grandfather at age 22 (not OK).  I could describe Eric’s transformation for you, but Wikipedia does it justice in a way it does no other entry on the entire site:

Early on in the show Eric is portrayed as suave and popular, this contrasts with Cory, who has trouble finding his niche in school. Eric’s character devolves from a suave elder brother to an irrational moron serving as comic relief.

He went from being the cool older brother dating the hot chicks in school to the moron that one of the Lawrence brothers (does it really matter which it was?) had to literally put in a helmet to make sure he didn’t hurt himself when they left the apartment. Again, not OK.

Topanga doesn’t really change much, at least not her character, so I guess I’ll give her credit for that.  However, was there a more ambiguous “hot/not hot?” female character in a 90s kids sitcom?  Some episodes she was hot, some she was cute, some she was fat, and some she just looked like a caveman with longer than normal hair (that space between her eyebrows and hairline could most aptly be described as a twohead.  Hiyo)**

Even the theme song changed a bunch of times, starting off in the first few years with that paper airplane and goofy tune.  Then it went to the open road scene and finally settled on the one where everyone is having a fun time on the street, dumping buckets of water on people and ending with the catchy, original line “when this boy meets world”. Personally, I was a fan of the last.  The characters seemed to have more fun during that little open than at any point in the episode.

The only thing the show had going for it was that it didn’t do anything ridiculous as a final episode.  Everyone kind of goes their expected ways and shockingly Mr. Feeny has just one more life lesson: don’t expect to have a real career after spending the first seven years of your acting life on a overly dramatic, horribly overacted, morally heavy-handed tv show.

A few quick hits before I go…

  • Am I the only one that was amazed by how much black leather Shawn/college girlfriend/the enormous redhead wore around campus? They looked like they were ready to go and shoot up a middle school in those trench coats.
  • Speaking of that enormous redhead, how tall was she?  5’10” is what I found online, but I have to believe it was closer to 6’6″, 6’8″.  That girl’s neck and dome were at least 3 and a half feet alone.
  • Mr. Turner, despite wearing WAY too much denim (even at the time), was and still is the man.  Well, I have no idea what Mr. Turner is currently doing, but it’s for damn sure he didn’t follow his students to college like a loser (ahem, Mr. Feeny).***
  • The whole “bully-groups” in high school lead by Harley and later Griff (yes, that was Adam Scott) was too unintentionally funny to be left out of here.  Not only did Harley look to be at least 35, but he and his goons spoke like they were uneducated street urchins that had just got done selling newspapers on the corner for a nickel.  Griffin Hawkins… well, his name was Griffin Hawkins.  ‘Nuff said.

*The actor that played Shawn was Rider Strong which has to be one of the few people with a way, way cooler name than the made-up character he was famous for.  While we’re on the subject of Strongs, his dad is King Strong and he was a firefighter.  No joke.  With a name like that, I have to imagine Rider’s pops was the inspiration for the Bill Brasky character from SNL.

**Speaking of female characters and hotness… the actress who played the early version of little sister Morgan (not only an oft ignored character, but a completely meaningless one as well, a true double whammy) turned out to be quite hot.  Lily Nicksay.  Look her up.  Or, just click on the link and save yourself the time.

***If I had to bet I’d put some serious cash on his current actions involving riding motorcycles and reading X-men comic books.