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.
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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.