Disney (and ABC’s) Unrealistic Expectations: Meeting the World with Cory and Topanga

Shawn: “You know, he used to tell me how wonderful you were, but guys always say great things about their girlfriends until they break up. That’s when the truth comes out. You know, I’ve waited 15 years to find out what he really thinks about you. Do you wanna know what he  thinks about you now that you’ve broken up?”

Topanga: “No. Shawn, I don’t wanna talk about him .”

Shawn: “Now that you’ve broken up, he still tells me how wonderful you are.”

Let’s just talk about how perfect the excerpt from a Boy Meets World episode that was, I mean, no boy is really that perfect in real life. Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence have been together “forever”, as Cory likes to say. Best friend Shawn Hunter is always there for Cory, even if he doesn’t want him to be. Topanga, who later is married to Cory in seasons 6 & 7,  often refers to Shawn as “Cory’s husband”. They are the 3 best friends, but often obstacles are faced.

In the new sitcom Girl Meets World, the continuation of Boy Meets World, Topanga and Cory are just as strange as they were in the original show. As many shows do, unrealistic expectations are present. The boy gets the girl, the students win the prize, he passes his test. But with Cory and Topanga, the expectations are real high.

Relationships

Cory and Topanga. Topanga and Cory.

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Most relationships that last through marriage are found in college, but Cory and Topanga found theirs on the playground. Not many people will date someone from 7th grade through the first years of college, and graduating college married, with only a few bumps in the road. As teenagers say, they are the “relationship goals”, or are they?

Another example is relationships with friends. Cory Matthews & Shawn Hunter. Riley Matthews & Maya Hart. Coincidence? Cory and Riley are exactly alike, quirky, unique, smart. Shawn and Maya are exactly alike, rebellious, procrastinate, and both live in broken homes.

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Not only are they exact same, but they have bonds that most real life friendships would never experience. Maya crawls into Riley’s bedroom from the bay window every episode, and her parents are fine with her coming over anytime. Shawn just walks into the Matthews residence whenever, and goes straight to the fridge. In fact, all the characters in Girl Meets World represent an original character in Boy Meets World.

And lastly, how close the families are. The child always goes to the parent without hesitation, and in today’s culture, that isn’t very common. The Matthews are your picture perfect family. 2 happy parents, 2 happy kids. I’m not saying it is a bad thing, but how unrealistic it can be. Many kids are scared to go to their parents for advice, and usually just go to friends.

In Girl Meets World, Cory is Riley’s teacher, which is awkward sometimes because Riley doesn’t want her father to know some things. Cory’s history teacher, Mr. Feeny, probably had one of the most prominent roles. He was a father figure, even if Cory already had one (Alan). Feeny taught life lessons worked into history lessons, and that is exactly what Cory does.

Cory, Topanga, and Shawn’s english teacher, Mr. Turner, was very close with Shawn (he was close with all but closest with Shawn). At one point, Shawn’s dad, Chet, goes to find his wife who had left. The Matthews take him in, but after a few months Turner decides to bring him into his home. Kind of inappropriate for a teacher/student relationship… But one has to admit, it is an amazing relationship they share. After Shawn went crazy for a little bit, he comes back to being normal when he find out Turner has been in a motorcycle accident.

Reunited?

Boy Meets World takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whereas Girl Meets World takes place in New York City. At the conclusion of Boy Meets World, Cory, Topanga and Shawn all move to the Big Apple so Topanga can have her dream of being a lawyer. 13 years later is when Girl Meets World starts, and Riley is in the 7th grade living in Greenwich Village.

What’s funny is during the duration of the first and second seasons, characters from the original come back… they also live in New York. Stuart Minkus, the smart kid on Boy Meets World, has a son named Farkle who is in love with Riley and Maya, and also in their close knit friend group. Newcomer Lucas Friar joins their friend group, and is Riley’s love interest. It is obvious that Lucas represents Topanga.

It is revealed in season 2 that Jonathan Turner lives in NYC as well, being the superintendent of the school district the kids live in. Quite the coincidence that the most beloved characters, live in the same city… Cory’s family still lives in Philadelphia, 70 minutes away, still next door to George Feeny.

Real Life

Boy Meets World had some pretty intense scenes as well. It is wonderful to see characters coming together to support one another, but it also creates a sense that the ones close to you will always be there. In real life, that might not always be the case. Friends and family are to support you, yes, but sometimes they don’t always do that. In television, they do, because it creates some type of fulfillment for kids who watch that might be struggling with their own personal problems.

Unrealistic Expectations

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So, Boy Meets World & Girl Meets World provide many unrealistic expectations, these just being a sliver of them. These are two of many shows on television today that provide teenagers with unrealistic expectations for school, relationships, and life. Cory and Topanga met the world with Shawn and Eric, guided by Feeny.

Who will accompany you while you meet the world?

And as Feeny said, “Class dismissed.”

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