What show defined your childhood?
For many Millennials, Boy Meets World was the quintessential television experience. Fans were all about Cory and Topanga and all of those fantastic Mr. Feeny life lessons. But most Millennial fans have never quite stopped to really analyze the real reason why this 1990s ABC coming-of-age dramedy was so impactful.
There’s no doubt that every viewer will have their own specific reason why they connected to the characters and the general story of Boy Meets World. But there seems to be a specific decision that the creators of the show made that ultimately made it one of the best shows of the decade, inspiring an entire generation. And that very same choice is one that the creator of a certain boy wizard made.
The Thing That Boy Meets World And Harry Potter Have In Common
The real reason why Boy Meets World remains one of the most important shows for Millennials is the same reason why they love Harry Potter. Author J.K. Rowling was utterly brilliant when she decided to evolve her books (and thus the movies) alongside the age group that was initially targeted. Six to eleven-year-olds were the man readers of her first book, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone for English and Canadian readers). But by the time the final book was released, that audience was roughly the same age as the main character and therefore was going through similar hardships and philosophical questions as he was.
In short, Rowling allowed her characters to age as her readers did. It went from a kid’s story to a teen story to one geared more for young adults. This is precisely what happened with Michael Jacobs and April Kelly’s ABC sitcom.
When it first debuted in September 1993, Boy Meets World was not dissimilar from the classic sitcom, Leave It To Beaver. It focused on the trials and tribulations of a sixth-grader and his friends. But by the time the show entered its seventh season in 1999, Cory Matthews was dealing with college, graduation, and marriage.
In short, viewers were able to actively watch this character grow up while they themselves did the same.
Why This Choice Was So Important And So Different From Anything We’ve Seen Since
As detailed in Nerdstalgic’s fantastic video on the same subject, the choice by the creators of Boy Meets World to evolve the show from season to season is something that is rarely done nowadays. At the time, Disney (who owns the ABC Network) was far more flexible with its creative content. They weren’t as corporate as they are today and therefore didn’t have to bow to the will of their shareholders nearly as much as they do today. In short, the suits at the office would allow their creatives to take greater creative risks.
Now, by no means was Boy Meets World an edgy show. While it had some interesting episodes like the Halloween episode that took risks or deal with death and serious subjects, it also acted, at times, like a shmaltzy family or teen drama. It didn’t always land. But thanks to incredible writer/producers like Howard Busgang, David Kendall, and, of course, the show’s creators, a balance of comedy, drama, and true pathos was almost always found. With their comedic and dramatic talents, the writers and creators of the show were able to keep it grounded about 95% of the time. There were few gimmicks. Few totally unbelievable moments. And almost no time where the show jumped the shark.
This isn’t something that the creators of the show’s 2010’s spin-off, Girl Meets World, were allowed to find. While Girl Meets World was met with positive reviews and a decent following, Disney made the producers keep their main characters the same age. This lost what really made Boy Meets World special and robbed the audience of experiencing what it really felt to be a young woman in the modern age. This is what lovers of Boy Meets World were able to experience in the 1990s with, well, a boy, his girlfriend, family, and friends.
Even though Girl Meets World failed to have an impact on fans of the original show, there’s no doubt that the ’90s classic will remain as such for decades to come. This is because viewers of the show literally felt as though they were aging alongside the characters of the show. Feeling their pain. Experiencing their joys. Moving through their heartbreaks. Accomplishing their goals alongside them. All the while dealing with the exact same things in real life.
Boy Meets World is special. There’s no doubt about it.
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