Updated: Feb 17
Boy Meets World vs. Girl Meets World
Girl Meets World brought back the characters we loved from Boy Meets World, introduced us to some new characters, and tried to give the magic of Boy Meets World to a new generation. However, did Girl Meets World live up to Boy Meets World? Was Girl Meets World better than Girl Meets World?
5 Things Girl Meets World did better than Boy Meets World
5. Auggie and Ava, and Doy
In Boy Meets World, Morgan was a lovely character who was meant to warm your heart and make you laugh, and she excelled at that when she got screen time. However, she felt like the most neglected part of the show. For example, Boy Meets World dropped her character for nearly a season and a half, and it didn't affect the show.
On the other hand, Auggie is a huge part of Girl Meets World and has a storyline in nearly every episode that significantly ties back into the plot. Auggie has his own life and set of friends that exist outside of whatever everyone else is going through. Morgan never had an Ava or Doy.
4. Rewarding the Troubled Friend
In Boy Meets World, Shawn was the troubled friend, and he provided so much drama to the show. However, Boy Meets World leaves him hanging. He finds out his mom wasn't his mom and then finds out his mom was actually a stripper, and then he never gets to meet her. His relationship with Angela falls apart, and Angela leaves him in the last episode. No happy ending for Shawn. Shawn's happy ending is following Cory and Topanga to New York in their happy ending.
However, in Girl Meets World, Shawn gets a family. He gains a stepdaughter in Maya and gets to be there for his stepdaughter the way he wishes his father would have been there for him. He finds love with Katy, who makes him laugh and understands what he has been through. He gets the family he was chasing his entire life. Also, Maya, the troubled teen in Girl Meets World, gets the family she has been after in Girl Meets World. She learns how to hope and believe in herself. She isn't left with just tragedy for tragedy's sake at the end of Girl Meets World.
3. Friend Groups
In Boy Meets World, Shawn and Cory were in the friend group, and anybody else just disappeared eventually. In season one, they even had a chair of death where the kid sitting in the third chair in the cafeteria would inevitably disappear. Minkus even got left behind until his eventual return in Girl Meets World, where he became semi-regular again.
In Girl Meets World, we get to know Riley and Maya of course, but we also have Farkle, and unlike Minkus, we don't ditch him as the season goes on. Also, Lucas stays as part of the friend group whether or not he is dating Riley. Smackle and Zay are even added to the friend group, and they also continue to the end. This allowed Girl Meets World to have a diversity of perspectives and more avenues to conflict among characters we already knew and were invested in. Also, Girl Meets World had better continuity, so Girl Meets Legacy, for example, did a better job of sending off all the mentors that had impacted the kids up to that point.
2. Fighting Over a Partner
Maya and Riley, on a microscale, fought over Farkle in the first season, and it was one of the best episodes of the series. On a macroscale, they fought over Lucas in a cold war that went on for a season and a half. That triangle produced some of the very best episodes in the series. Cory and Shawn never fought over a girl. They had times when a girl came between them, like the new girl in season one, Jenifer in season 4, or Dana in season 3. However, in each of those instances, the fight was more about Shawn and Cory's friendship than the girl. Somehow they never seem to like the same girl in all of their adolescence. For perspective, even in Jack and Eric's short friendship, which only lasted two seasons of the seven, they ran into that problem with Rachel. Say what you will about how Girl Meets World decided to end the triangle(deep sigh) I am glad they decided to tackle the issue.
Okay, I hear you typing now. Boy Meets World also tackled bullying. However, given its time, the way they attacked it was fundamentally different. In Boy Meets World, bullying was treated like a minor nuisance. Everyone just had to get through it, and while it may cost you lunch money or some pain you get through, you move on. Bullying never seems to have any long-term effects on the characters. Boy Meets World's best take on bullying is Janitor Dad when Shawn stands up to the kid making fun of him because his dad is a janitor. However, in Girl Meets World, they get to know the bully and interrogate why he would bully Farkle in the first place. They examine the long-term effects of bullying on Farkle not wanting to go to school and how it alters his personality and affects his quality of life. They even bring Harley back and have him give a former bully's perspective.
In addition, Girl Meets World doubles back and takes on cyberbullying and its mental damage to Riley and why and how it profoundly affects her and why someone wouldn't tell other people how bad it's getting and how Cyberbullying gets so bad in the first place. They also finish with an amazing scene on how to handle it. If there is one area Girl Meets World can take a bow, it's bullying. They made comprehensive and compelling episodes on the subject.
5 Things Boy Meets World did better than Girl Meets World
5. Side Characters
Boy Meets World had way better one-off characters and side characters than Girl Meets World, and Girl Meets World knows it. Girl Meets World brings back Harley, a bully who was only in Boy meets World for a few episodes in seasons two and three but made such an impact on the series that it merited a return. Lauren was only in three episodes, and one of those episodes was a dream sequence, and she is cemented as one the most unforgettable characters in Boy Meets World. They even referred to her original episode in Girl Meets World season three, and Girl Meets World brought her son into Girl Meets World.
T.K got one episode in season two of Boy Meets World, and she is more memorable than any of the side characters from Girl Meets World. Girl Meets World had a problem with keeping the friendship bubble too tight, and they didn't have the excellent one-off characters that took Boy Meets World to the next level.
For example, in Season 3, Girl Meets She Doesn't Like Me, there is a girl that doesn't like Riley, and we learn absolutely nothing about her. She is just there to move the plot, and she adds nothing. Any other character at the school could play her role. Compare that to when Dana didn't like Shawn in season 3. First off, her name was important enough to repeat here. Because we learned about her and why she didn't like Shawn, and it was integral to the plot. Dana performed so well that she got a return two seasons later in season 5. Boy Meets World side characters were as crucial to the show as the main cast, even though they weren't always the same people. Girl Meets World had some good side characters, but their lack of meaningful side characters and one-off characters, especially in Riley and Maya's age group, gave the main cast less to play off.
Girl Meets World was actually really bad at romantic relationships. In Boy Meets World, Topanga and Cory move mountains to be together. We get to see them organically navigate a friendship before developing into a relationship that the audience can root for. However, Riley and Lucas were awful together. They were great friends, but they seemed to forget what to do with them every time the writers got them together. In the first season, it made sense because they were young and awkward and didn't know what they were doing. However, in season three, after they have navigated friendship fought through the triangle and emerged together, there's just nothing. If you skip the lodge episodes and watch from that point on in season three of Girl Meets World, you would probably be shocked to find out that Riley and Lucas were meant to be dating that entire time. Alternatively, in Boy Meets World, Cory and Topanga tackled different relationship expectations and milestones while clearly being together and displaying a relationship worth the trouble of problem-solving and worth the audience rooting for them. I'll leave you with this final comparison when Topanga almost moved to Pittsburgh from Philly (Same State), our audience hearts broke, and so did Cory and Topanga's; the world shook. When Riley nearly moved to the U.k from New York, Lucas and Riley just calmy broke up no harm, no foul. Riley and Lucas clearly weren't trying to be Cory and Topanga's forever relationship, and that's okay. However, they were barely in a relationship at all. Wendy and Cory's breakup meant more than Lucas and Riley's.
It flat out lasted longer. Boy Meets World had problems with Disney too, but it was -picked up by ABC Familly and is still talked about to this day. Boy Meets World gave us the chance to grow up with the characters. The show is like a longitudinal study of life. There is an episode for everything. The longevity of Boy Meets World is so special. Seven seasons with the same cast. Cory went from sixth-grader who didn't like girls and especially Topanga to marrying Topanga. We watched Eric go from a lady's man who didn't prioritize school to the guy who did everything he could to get into college. This is one of the biggest disappointments of Girl Meets World. We didn't get to watch them grow like Boy Meets World. Their story was cut short.
2. Maturity and Complexity
Girl Meets World was kept a little young. The problem they had was that they often tended to skew younger. For example, I've given them credit for the love triangle and cyberbullying, and they deserve it. However, for the love triangle, the way in which they chose to resolve the situation and explore it at times lacked maturity. Lucas and Maya look into each other eyes fireside but they don't actually kiss. Kissing is not really discussed and explored at a high school level, even though the kids make it to high school. In fact, for a large part of season one, the show focuses on Cory trying to stop Riley from growing up. In Season two of Boy Meets World, when Cory and Topanga are in seventh grade, Topanga deals with her reputation being ruined after everyone thinks she slept with Cory, and Cory gets treated like a king. Girl Meets World would never tackle an issue that complex and mature, not even in the third season when they were in high school.
Also, I think it's interesting that when Boy Meets World is made into Girl Meets World, they suddenly have a problem with romantic relationships, and they aren't exploring the way Cory and Shawn did. It's frustrating, but Maya and Riley were not given the same rope to explore themselves. Cory and Shawn started exploring relationships and kissing in season one. The social aspect of high school boys and relationships is largely neglected in Girl Meets World. For comparison, it would be like if Shawn and Cory never evolved past the romantic relationship tone of the first season.
Furthermore, Girl Meets World wasn't as good at blurring the lines as Boy Meets World. What I mean by that is that Boy Meets World from the beginning was very good at introducing grey areas where learning and growth could occur. Girl Meets World was good at teaching lessons but not with the same complexity of Boy Meets World. For example, the Janitor Bud situation in season three of Boy meets World where Cory and Shawn get Janitor Bud fired. Even as an adult, you could take either side of what happened and have a valid point. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and that's what Boy Meets World was always teaching us. Girl Meets World was often held back by its lack of complexity and younger audience, so they weren't able to blur ethical and moral lines as effectively, which hurt the episode's overall quality. One of the times Girl Meets World tries to have a moral debate, they have Riley eat Zay's cookie as means of exploring her wild side, and that pretty much sums up everything I've said in this section.
1. Their Own World
The biggest advantage Boy Meets World has over Girl Meets World is the creation of a world that was all Cory's. In Boy Meets World, they seem to understand the importance of the kids having a world that didn't include Feeny or their parents. We see the kid's world at school in the cafeteria and the halls. Think about how much of Boy Meets World takes place in the halls of John Adams high. At parties with no visible adult supervision(even though adults are there sometimes) and at Chubbies. Also, even in Cory's own house. Girl Meets World was supposed to have a big brother, but they scrapped him. There is no older child besides Josh, who is too inappropriate to discuss further. What Girl Meets World lost by cutting that is there Eric. Cory had an older sibling who was still a child but who was more experienced than he was who he could turn to for advice. Girl Meets World had Auggie instead of Eric, which meant they would skew younger rather than older from then on. It also meant that Riley lost another section of her life where she could figure things out from a kid's perspective.
Cory's room was a totally different world from the rest of the house. It might have well have been Chubbies. He hid Shawn from his parents in there. He got advice from Eric about girls in there, had dates, and figured out problems before adult intervention in that room. This is so important because the show is about the kids. They are the main draw, and they need space to figure out their problems and brainstorm their own ideas about what should happen in their lives. From there, their parents and mentors can guide them and help them make choices. However, in Girl Meets World, the kids don't have that space. Riley is often busted in on when she is in her room. She has zero privacy at home. At school, her father is one of her teachers. Her mom and Maya's mom run their version of Chubbies. There is nowhere in their universe where they can go and figure things out for themselves because their parents hover over them everywhere. Maya and Riley don't go to parties and social events, and they often have Riley's parents explicitly telling them what to do at every turn. It hampers the show and the development of the characters.
Which One is Better Though?
Well, that's for you all to decide. So I will be having a twenty-episode Versus battle between Girl Meets World and Boy Meets World. It will be the top twenty episodes from each show's Ranked and Reviewed series (Link: BMW GMW), and the voting will take place across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and Patreon. Patreon will get a special extra five on five-episode battle. Those episodes will be based on GMW and BMW episodes that directly correlate and will serve as the tiebreaker.