5 Reasons Disney did good by the GMW pilot and 4 Reasons they didn’t, pt. I
(9 reasons why, total.)
I’m doing this in favor of an outright review because I want to wait until the first season is finished before I make up my mind about the series as a whole. This is specifically about the pilot episode of Girl Meets World, which premiered on June 27th. I also know that by the time this post goes up, the second episode would have already been aired (I’m writing this on the 28th and queueing it up, since I needed to get all the Fourth of July stuff out of my system first). Plus, that gives me time to make sure more people have had the chance to watch it, thus minimizing spoilers.
So, in the spirit of convention, let’s start with the bad news. Good news will be on part two.
1. It’s way too glamorous.
To be fair, we knew this going in. From the first announcement of the new sequel and their respective publicity shots, we knew that Girl Meets World was coming back Disney-fied. One of the best things about Boy Meets World was its authenticity—all of the characters could have easily been real people. Their house could have easily been your friend’s house down the street. They looked and acted like a basic, middle-class family living in Philly. Given, now they are in New York, and the kids are starting older than Cory and Shawn were in season one of BMW. Plus, times have changed and preteens are more culturally involved than in the ’90s, plus we’re dealing with girls instead of boys. But still: most seventh graders are not that stylish, much less can afford all the vibrant, glamorous clothing that is characteristic of Disney characters nowadays. Same with the house decorations, fancy old school building, and were there rumors of Topanga owning a pudding shop? (This wasn’t officially released in the pilot, but at the time of the show’s announcement, there was talk of that being the new “Chubbie’s.” It may or may not appear in the rest of the series.) Also, how does someone who has no one at home (Maya) afford the coolest clothes in school? I miss the authenticity of the original series. Again, this isn’t the worst thing in the world. We expected it. It is still Disney Channel, after all. But it would have been nice to see this be the start of a transition for Disney’s vision, and for children’s programming, in general. Disney had an awesome opportunity and excuse to bring back a genuine cultural setting to television, but they didn’t even entertain it, which I am honestly a little disappointed in. Which brings me to…
Whatever happened to the idea that you don’t have to only be a “good kid” or “bad kid?” Can’t we land somewhere in the middle? It’s great that Riley is represented as a smart girl who thinks for herself (I’ll talk more about that later), and I like that they included a Shawn-esque character in Maya, but seriously, aren’t they both a little too far on either end of the spectrum? Even at the start of the BMW series, neither Shawn or Cory were extremely bad (or good) kids. They were both normal students who just cared more about baseball than Romeo and Juliet—a basic depiction of many sixth grade boys. True, there were Minkus and Topanga, who were both very extreme, but by the second season Topanga’s hippie-dom had mellowed out, and the unfair depiction of the nerd stereotype is the main reason they cut Minkus’ character. Acting like personalities only come in extremes teaches kids to mold into a label instead of trying to be their own person. Even when a show has such a theme as GMW does, “make the world your own,” this reliance on stock characters runs the risk of sacrificing all those words to what you’re actually showing in the characters’ actions.
3. The story line is incredibly cheesy.
This could be just because of the pilot, as first episodes tend to be pretty cheesy anyway, so I don’t want to put too much stress on this. I’m sure this aspect will improve. Besides, BMW had it’s fair share of cheese throughout the series. It’s forgivable. But again, it goes back to the authenticity issue: too much sentimentality, and you risk losing the relatablility. The producers just have to be careful of it, is all.
4. Farkle Minkus
Alright, I have some serious beef with this one. All the other oversights could have been overlooked and forgiven, and Disney was actually doing great in my book until… Farkle.
I actually think that Disney couldn’t have done anything worse in terms of characters for the show. In the original series, Minkus was annoying, but at least he was sill believable, and therefore, tolerable. And they still took him out because of his overly nerdy demeanor (see reason no. 2). If Stuart Minkus was a distraction, Farkle Minkus is one thousand times worse. I legitimately hate what they’ve done with this character, and that’s difficult for me to say about anything BMW related. If anything were to bring this show to the ground, it will singlehandedly be Farkle. The sooner they get rid of him the better. I’m going to leave it at that, because otherwise this could go on forever. There are so many more reasons I can’t stand this character, from stereotypes to image to just general obnoxiousness. I’m sure most of you who watched it already agree to some point.
Outside of these, though, I think Disney did a pretty good job with the show, overall. I’m going to save the 5 good reasons for Tuesday’s post. Stay tuned for part two!