More than a month ahead of its official broadcast premiere, the first episode of Disney Channel’s Boy Meets World follow-up, Girl Meets World, is currently available to verified Watch Disney users. Here, TVLine Editor at Large Matt Mitovich and Staff Editor Andy Swift — coming from distinct points of view — share their first impressions of the series, which follows Cory and Topanga’s daughter Riley as she struggles to find her own “world.”
As a father to two 11-year-old boys, Matt Mitovich regularly finds himself watching every new episode of Jessie, Dog With a Blog and Liv & Maddie. On a scale of 1 to 10, his familiarity with the original Boy Meets World rates a generous “2.”
The first thing that struck me — compared to Dog With a Blog, where the studio audience will hoot and holler over the most chaste of hugs between a boy and a girl — is that Riley’s BFF Maya (onetime Austin & Ally guest star Sabrina Carpenter) is a tad overt for Disney Channel, very much the Samantha to her Charlotte, in attitude as well as her overly calculated style. (At one point she even welcomes the label of “the opposite of innocent,” which was… interesting.)
The half-hour as a whole seemed to tackle weightier issues than, say, “Which of Jessie‘s charges will be voted school mascot?!” as it explored the semi-conspicuous, spinoff title-justifying “Make your own world” theme. That initial vibe may come as comfort to BMW fans, who have fretted that GMW‘s Disney Channel home will water down meaty messages. Here, the question is: Will mild-mannered Riley (Rowan Blanchard), to her dad’s regret, emulate Maya’s rebellious ways? Or will the script get flipped?
All told, I’m not sure we have laid witness to the actual “show” yet, which is often the case with pilots. As Andy notes below, the episode was very Topanga-lite. Also, was the Token Wee Sibling ever given a name? (Riley’s brother seemed to just materialize at one point!) Will Jackée Harry appear in every subway scene? (And how does a 90-lb. girl easily force open famously stubborn subway car doors?) Did the students run roughshod over that Mr. Feeny the way teacher Cory gets dissed here? And wait, did Cory and Topanga move into Ted Mosby’s old place?!
I’ll be curious to see what my sons think.
Andy Swift is a 26-year-old Boy Meets World fanatic, whose long history of TV shipping began with Cory and Topanga… and who still cries every time ABC Family airs a rerun of the series finale.
As anticipated, Riley and Maya are very much the 2014-female versions of BMW staples Cory and Shawn. Riley’s the daddy’s girl with good intentions, while Maya’s the bad girl with a questionable home life. Maya’s also not afraid to lead an (often literal) rebellion, and just like Shawn during his brief stint as “Veronica,” she loves her makeup.
Then there’s Farkle, who’s not quite the Minkus clone I assumed him to be. Sure, he’s got a wacky name and that same strange attachment to his teacher, but don’t expect the girls to be using Farkle for paper airplane target practice. (In a post-bullying world, that probably wouldn’t fly, anyway.)
Though the legendary Mr. Feeny (played by the great William Daniels) only makes a brief appearance in the pilot, his spirit is always present within Cory, who’s picked up many of his mentor’s habits — including his penchant for turning classroom lessons into life lessons for a select few students, while conveniently ignoring everyone else in the class.
BMW fans may gripe about the dearth of Topanga in the pilot, though given the episode’s Riley/Cory-centric storyline, it’s understandable that she initially takes a back seat. That said, the characters’/actors’ “reunion” has always been one of the new series’ selling points, so here’s hoping for more screen time moving forward.
Girl Meets World premieres Friday, June 27 at 9:45/8:45c (following the premiere of Disney Channel’s Zendaya-fronted original movie Zapped). Prior to that, iTunes will have a free download available June 13. The show will then make its regular time slot debut Friday, July 11 at 8:30.