Girl Meets World Star: Disney Wouldn't 'Allow' Spinoff to Go as Deep as BMW

Girl Meets World‘s Rider Strong was the first to let slip that the Boy Meets World follow-up had ended prior to Disney Channel’s official cancellation. Now, the actor best known as Shawn Hunter is speaking out against what he sees as the kiddie network’s interference in the overall vibe of the spin-off.

In a new interview on the podcast Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Strong tells guest host Samm Levine (of Freaks & Geeks fame) that Disney Channel didn’t allow series creator Michael Jacobs to get quite as dramatic as he would’ve liked to on GMW.

“I think what Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World tapped into is that there’s actually a huge segment of that age group, you know… the target age group from 8 all the way up to 16ish, that is very melodramatic and that does see life as ‘It’s all fun,’ and then the rug gets pulled out from under you,” Strong explained, defending the melodrama that seeped into both sitcoms. “I think Michael [Jacobs], to his credit, really wrote well for that [age group], and he still does. We’ve had some very dramatic episodes [of Girl Meets World]. I don’t think as dramatic as Boy, mostly because we’re on Disney Channel and they won’t allow us to. I think had Michael had his way, Girl Meets World would have swung just as extreme.

“When you do a tonal shift like that — I think Boy Meets World missed the mark almost as often as it nailed the mark, honestly — for some people that tonal shift will never work,” Strong said.

RELATED Girl Meets World Says an Early Goodbye to Fans With Hour-Long Special

As an example of something “more intense than Girl Meets World has ever done,” Strong referred to BMW’s infamous Season 4 episode, “Cult Fiction,” during which Shawn joined a cult, found God and Mr. Turner lapsed into a coma — all in the span of 22 minutes. (Though Turner was briefly mentioned during Season 5’s high school graduation episode, his fate wasn’t ultimately revealed until GMW Season 2.)

During the 90-plus-minute interview, Strong also revealed what props he took from the Boy Meets World set when it came to an end in 2000, and what he wishes he would have taken from the Girl Meets World set had he known the show was coming to an end. The series finale, “Girl Meets Goodbye,” airs on Jan. 20, and features nearly the entire BMW cast.

Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel, who were the only BMW cast members to join GMW as series regulars, have yet to comment on GMW‘s demise. Strong appeared in just seven episodes over the course of its three-season run.

In a statement to TVLine, the network said, “Disney Channel is committed to presenting age-appropriate, entertaining, optimistic and empowering stories for our core viewers, age 6-14, and we’re proud of the heartfelt and comedic stories that Girl Meets World brought to fans for over 70 episodes.”

Watch Strong’s interview (Boy Meets World chatter begins at the 28:42 mark) as well as Shawn Hunter’s “Cult Fiction” monologue below, then tell us if you think GMW could’ve flourished/matured on a network other than Disney Channel.


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47 Comments
  1. Nathan Everett says:

    Damn Disney. You suck

    • datdudemurphy says:

      this…so much this

      • Stacie says:

        This was so apparent. To be fair I don’t watch any other Disney shows, but the fact that Riley and Lucas, which was to be the main couple of the show, didn’t share a kiss past the first episode of the series made it unrealistic. I understand that it was about Riley and Maya’s friendship first and foremost, but that’s what it was on Boy Meets World, about Cory and Shawn, but after about 2 full seasons they switched and relied more on the relationships outside of friendships. Girl Meets World didn’t make a switch. They teased it for countless episodes, that Lucas had to make this big choice and then he did after more than 2 seasons, and then we never saw their relationship again. Maybe it was a combination of it being Disney maybe it had to do that in real life Peyton(Lucas) is 3 years older than Rowan(Riley) who is now just 15, but if that’s they case they shouldn’t have hired a male lead that much older. I get the restrictions, but even if they werent’ kissing, Cory and Topanga did some not a lot, they could have done more in terms of switching the show from a friends for life show, to a relationship show.

        • Jamie says:

          So much this Stacie, after the tease of the triangle, dragging it out and after the choice seeing it never amount to anything was a disappointment. You could tell it wasn’t going anywhere. I’ll miss the show and will have the hope to see it again one day outside of Disney in some shape or form. I loved BMW growing up and as an adult, I enjoyed GMW just as much.

  2. Roger Buchana says:

    Disney doesn’t think much of females, Star Wars withstanding. In a Trump Presidency and all his previous remarks about women, Disney had the chance for young, up and coming women a platform to learn and grow. They failed.

    • A fan of TV says:

      Arguably they still think very little of women inclusive of Star Wars. The concept for Ep7 was mostly Abrams, and in merch the Rey figurine is the only one sold with a ‘bonus’ character in BB8. The fact that Leia was about the most badass character in the originals was down to George Lucas, not Disney, and the serendipitousness of having someone like Carrie Fisher helm the role.

      • Danny123 says:

        Which is strange considering all the Disney princesses they have. I hate that every studio sells their rights to Disney. I hope freeform picks this show up. Probably not but always hope.

    • What on Earth?

      How many shows has Disney had with female leads? And how few have they had with male leads?

      Stop creating unnecessary drama. Disney Channel has done plenty to embrace young women and give them a chance to shine.

  3. LizWebberFan says:

    Without the Disney Channel Girl Meets World probably would have never existed. So I’m grateful to Disney for producing the show in the first place, and overall I was pleased with this follow up series. But with that being said I think that Rider is absolutely right with his assessment of Disney here. GMW never went as deep as BMW. The first two seasons worked great as a Disney show, but once the characters hit high school the characters world felt way too fluffy for teenagers. I always secretly wished GMW would transition to ABC Family/ Freeform one day. The writers definitely would have had more freedom over there to touch on harder issues.

    • Patrick says:

      Disney hates the “real world” because it destroys their audience. Disney’s target audience is tween and pre tween audiences. They are the most impressionable and easiest to target/manipulate via marketing/advertising. As they age, and start to think critically, the become much harder to monetize. So Disney was never going to let it get too deep. Not ever.

  4. Fan says:

    So glad it existed. So sad i’ts gone, but it did need to grow to continue. Such lost potential.

  5. funnibone31 says:

    I remember being young and watching the “Shawn joins a cult” episode. Looking back on it now was it melodramatic, sure, I’m glad to have had those deep episodes when I was young. It was remembered.

    • Marissa L. says:

      I remember that being one of my favorite episodes… I love when they all get to the hospital and Mr. Feeny and Alan stand up to the cult guy, it really showed just how much the Matthews considered Shawn as part of their own family.

  6. Jason says:

    we all knew this would be an issue from the start. Theres nothing like that ABC block BMW originally aired on, so it was a compromise I think in the end hurt the series

  7. ndixit says:

    I think people had foreseen this issue as soon as it was announced. Disney is Disney. Good or bad, they have always set pretty consistent restrictions on what they will show and what demographic they are aiming for. At least in the last decade or so. So GMW was never going to get to the same space that BMW did.

    • rinaex says:

      Agreed, I’m not exactly shocked by how Disney handled the show. As someone who occasionally watches with my niece, I still felt that, even with the restrictions, the show kind of lost its way with the writing and some of the characters after the first season.

  8. Jaclyn says:

    I knew this would happen going in. It’s Disney. They wouldn’t even air all of BMW episodes when it was syndicated on their channel. I don’t know why anyone should be surprised by this. I, for one, was just glad to have it. I was going to watch it no matter what and take it for what it was. A good kids show with really not deep content and I was okay with that. Had it been on another channel such as Freeform, I feel it would’ve been a much better show and closer to what people wanted.

  9. Tania says:

    I knew that wasnt going to be as deep as it was announced that Disney was going to air Girl meets world because disney refused to air the drinking episode, i tried telling people that would be more kiddie show but they said i was wrong

    • Lynne says:

      Not only the drinking episode, but also the Prom episode as well since 95% of the episode consisted of Cory and Topanga trying to get the hotel room so they could sleep together. Lol

      • TQ says:

        What was the drinking episode or the prom episode. Or where can i find more information?

        • Marissa L. says:

          Both were from Season 5, the drinking one titled “If You Can’t Be With The One You Love”… very good episode. The Prom episode was called “Prom-ises, Prom-ises”.

  10. Brynna says:

    It definitely would have been better off on a different channel – the Disney channel tone was too superficial and silly for a proper follow up to Boy Meets World. Even Freeform would have been a better home.

  11. Evan says:

    So everything we actually feared/said would happen with Disney doing this did.

    Figures

  12. Lynne says:

    Yes, we knew that GMW would not get anywhere near as serious as BMW got, but without Disney, we wouldn’t have even gotten GMW in the first place. So I am grateful that Disney gave us this little nugget of nostalgia for us 90s kids that grew up with BMW.

  13. Danny123 says:

    The exact same problem with star wars rebels. I quit watching because Disney wouldn’t let it get as dark as clone wars on cartoon network. Starting to hate Disney ruining good franchises.

  14. Wesley says:

    I don’t think this revelation comes as a surprise to anyone. Isn’t this what everyone was concerned about when it was announced that the spin-off would be on Disney? Probably for the best that Disney cancelled it since if it were to continue the story-lines could surpass what Disney is comfortable with. Netflix picking it up would be a best case scenario, in my opinion.

  15. DZ says:

    Can someone please educate me on this show? My 8 y.o. daughter was watching once, and when I walked in, the topic was the titular “girl” and her BFF who were crushing over the same boy and asking him to choose! I turned off the TV immediately. Now granted, my daughter was too young to watch it, but I wouldn’t really want any teenager watching that particular topic. But obviously, a lot of people like this show – is it despite the too-young love triangle or because of it?

    • Mike says:

      The show explained it away by saying that it wasn’t actually a love triangle, but more of one best friend looking out for the other. It was Disney’s way of pulling the rug out from under the viewers so the material wouldn’t actually “go there”.

    • rinaex says:

      There’s a nostalgia for the original series BMW to a great degree. But as Ryder said, that show had just as manny misses as hits.

    • Despite it. That was most viewers’ least favorite plot (at least from reading comments sections). The show was mostly a nostalgia-fest for us ’90s kids, but it did have some important issues breached. I personally don’t feel the show was too mature for an 8-year-old, it may just have been the minute you entered the room it felt like a nonsense romance show. It wasn’t.

  16. cody black says:

    So what was Mr Turners fate that was revealed in season 2?

  17. Katie says:

    These people complaining are making me roll my eyes so hard. Do y’all not remember when they announced the show, everyone was whining, terrified they would forgo the innocence of the original in exchange for flash. And now people are whining that it wasn’t exciting enough? Its a hard line to toe and the episodes I watched were not all that good or clever. The script itself was very juvenile (like the episode where they were going to have Eric run for state senator. Other than the Tommy thing – which was hands down one of my favorite moments in TV ever – the script was unbearable dumb.

  18. Jared says:

    Show gets cancelled all the time, I get that but WHY did GMW end? It wasn’t because of ratings so I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it more so than anything.

  19. Aubrey says:

    Hopefully this gets picked up by another network soon and if not maybe in the future it could come back (on a much better network that wouldn’t hold it back)

  20. I think GMW should have done what Fuller House did and been shown in Netflix or amazon prime or Hulu. GMW was cute but not the same as BMW. (And this is coming from a 31 year old fan who watched both) it needed to be deeper and resonate with the kids as well as the adults who used to watch BMW. I’m sad it’s ending. I hope Ben Savage goes rogue and joins fellow TGIF member Candace Cameron in Netflix.

  21. This is Netflix’s opportunity to steal this show and make it what it should’ve been, without the Mouse interfering

  22. Girl meets world the only decent moral family show on the disney channel and you cancel it , Disgraceful!!! My children and I will no longer be watching your channel

    • therealjonpalmer says:

      The only one? I realize that unfortunately ‘Liv & Maddie’ is also coming to a way too soon end. But, what was indecent, immoral, or unfamily about THAT show?
      I’m bummed both shows are ending. But, Disney always comes up with some decent, moral, family shows.

  23. KimB says:

    This is my 11 year olds favorite show on Disney and her friends. In all the other Disney shows the parents are morons and they are never serious and in GMW the parents teach and parent and love and their kids respect them. Disney has this one ALL WRONG!

  24. Keslen says:

    It really makes me wonder why the heck they bothered to start Girl Meets World if they were always going to cut it off so soon. At the very least, the girls should have been allowed to graduate high school on screen (unless they faced abysmal ratings, which they didn’t).

  25. Andrew Hass says:

    Maybe Disney wanted Girl Meets World to be different than Boy Meets World in some ways and just be a fun show for people to watch.As for Rider Strong, i’m wondering if he wanted to be on GMW more and this might be a little bitter grapes on his part because now he’s free to criticize Disney all he wants.

  26. Tsmulvaugh says:

    Michael Jacobs wanted to give the characters depth to have them struggle with life and show faith and pride in country. Such he hinted on where Carpenter’s character opened up to little in her belief in God and where her and Riley and Farkle found that America’s way was better than communism. This goes against everything Disney believes in anymore. Jacobs could have just caved in a created what they Disney wanted look at any other Disney show where the parents are idiots, and the kids you just want to bury them alive. Sadly with this show gone, as far as I am concerned Disney is gone. As someone who grew up when Walt created this company you can see how far it has fallen the man from Kansas City would not be proud of his dream.