When Disney launched the Disney+ streaming last November, I was excited to watch all the movies from my childhood, driven by nostalgia and good feeling those movies used to bring. One of the first cartoons I pressed play on was X-Men, for the fact that I used to love watching it with my cousin when I was a kid and I once started questioning a lot of the story.
My nostalgia come from the growing up in the 90s, and the 90s feels like the land the nobody. Technology was still in its baby steps, kids did not have the same access or amount of simultaneously information they receive today. I don’t think people used to get offended or questioned values or morals, they sit down and watch TV, without the implications of what was being could influence on people watching. Unless something they didn’t feel like it was a proper subject for TV. Thanks the universe, for not allowing Twitter to exist at that time. Or I guess it should and Ellen DeGeneres would have never lost her sitcom, because most of us would take her side and cheer her up.
When I moved to the United Stated, in 2012, I started to watch “Boy Meets World” and at first I think that it was good family show, morals and values again, a kid going through life, not big deal. After Disney+ released the entire catalog last November, I revisited, and let me tell you that after almost a decade in living here, my opinion about that show changed radically.
Boy Meets World is a show about a boy who goes through life, having to deal with of the problems of his own age, while growing up. The problem with the show starts here. The main character, Cory, comes from a loving, caring family, living in harmony, in the same neighborhood his whole life, with his hardworking dad and staying home mom, who takes care of him and his siblings, while he goes through school. His best friend Shawn, in the other hand, is poor, comes from a broken family, lives in a Trailer Park, while his dad is everywhere working as a truck driver. He is lonely and relies on Cory’s family for affection and comfort. The show should be about Shawn, I would say, because Cory had everything handed to him in life in a silver tray. Having to work on a 2000 word essay on a Friday night it is not a big deal. Not having food, or relying on strangers to give you a pair of shoes for the new school year, that yes, is a major problem.
Part of the TGIF line up on ABC, Boy meets World joins the popularity of other shows following the same style. A three camera show, with a live audience and stories that mashup with the age group, as the characters grows, so does the audience. Boy meets World was in the air for seven seasons, from 1993 to 2000, and as Cory, Topanga and Shawn grew up, we could see clearly how life works for a privilege kid.
The first seasons is about the childish way to resolve problems at school, a weird girl who makes no sense and annoys the boy, a kid who is broken and a mean teacher/neighbor. From the third season on, when the characters start High School, is all about what Cory wants and how manipulative he can be when he thinks someone is against his wishes. He doesn’t care about anyone else but himself and as the seasons goes by, is clear to see he didn’t grow up. Cory still behaves like he is 10 years old spoiled boy, getting frustrated when things don’t go his way. That is the most common behavior seeing in privileged kids who grew up in the 90s. They can’t understand why things don’t happen when they want it, their friends or family are either on their side or against them. They are full of themselves and always had a safety net to rely on, whenever something goes wrong. They have grip.
The show also suffers from an extreme lack of diversity. I don’t think ABC cared much about showing different stereotypes at that time, besides the perfect portrait family. There is one or two people of color, during the entire show, one is Angela, Shawn’s Girlfriend, and the other one is a teacher who stayed for about 3 episodes. The only thing we know about Angela is that her dad is military, and needs to move away at some point. Her arc was never explored.
Once again, it should be about Shawn. While Cory suffers, because his girlfriend is moving away, Shawn is trying to bring his mom back into his life, after she disappeared, leaving him and his dad for good. In another episode, Cory and Shawn’s family decided to have Thanksgiving at the Trailer Park together, where Shawn lives and the whole episode made me cringe. Cory’s family are super uncomfortable with the food, the plastic utensils and sharing the small table, while Shawn’s dad try to make it work, also not very glad to be receiving in his house people “better off” in life than him. The classicist America don’t like to share the space with people who have less and its well written on the show.
Right before finishing HighSchool, while they are deciding which university to attend, Cory freaks out when he realizes his less fortunate friend might not attend the same school as him. Shawn knows his limitations, and states that he doesn’t have the money or the grades. Cory cries because he wants his friend with him forever, instead of supporting the decision that it might affect him. A few years later re-watching it and I could see how selfish, spoiled and unprepared for life his character was.
In 2014, Ben Savage, Mr. Cory Matthews itself, came back on a show on Disney Channel called Girl Meets World, now about his daughter with Topanga, with the same premises and the same type of story arc. The plot was about the thirteen years old girl, navigating through life, while meeting boys and fighting for her poor, struggling best friend Maya. I though the Maya was Shawn’s daughter for the longest time, but as the show kept going, it turned out Shawn succeed as photographer, got away from Cory and it was living a great life.
That’s the message that Boy meets World should have had. Even if you are poor, with the help of loving and caring people, you can still find your way in life. Not everything needs to be handed to you, on a silver tray, and you don’t need a toxic friend, manipulating you to please his own unsustainable immediate needs. Let’s face it, all that privilege made Cory boring and paranoid for no reason. It was all about him all the time, when it was supposed to be Shawn.
Everyone should watch the show for educational reasons, it shouldn’t be cancel by “Cancel Culture”. It’ really hard to even laugh at the jokes at this point. But its ABC and Disney, so there is a lot of change to be made still.
Stay Safe. Check your privilege.