Boy Meets World vs. Girl Meets World

The popular 90's hit series Boy Meets World appealed to people because it discussed real-life issues
The popular 90’s hit series Boy Meets World appealed to people because it discussed real-life issues

Fans of the beloved show, Boy Meets World  everywhere were overcome with joy when it was announced in late 2012 that Disney was in the early process of developing a spin-off of the popular 90’s show, with Girl Meets World. Fans were even more excited to find out that characters Corey Matthews and Topanga Lawrence of Boy Meets World would star in the new sitcom as the parents of the shows’ main character Riley Matthews as she faces the everyday challenges of life, starting with her journey in the seventh grade. It was also said that many characters from the original show would make appearances in the new series such as Corey’s parents, Amy and Allen Matthews, his best friend Shawn Hunter and of course, Mr. Feeney. But just how high are the expectations surrounding the new series, which debuts on Disney Channel June 27th? Probably pretty high, but where there are high expectation, there is also room for disappointment.

Boy Meets World was part of ABC Family’s  T.G.I.F. Friday lineup from September 1993, to May 2000. The show followed the life of Corey Matthews, his friends and his family as they faced challenges in everyday life and had to find ways to work through the obstacles. The series was an immediate hit, generating millions of viewers each year. The show is largely considered one of the best shows of all-time. So the questions is this; how will Girl Meets World compete with Boy Meets World? Very simple. It won’t.

Corey (left) and Shawn had one of the best friendships in television history
Corey (left) and Shawn had one of the best friendships in television history

Boy Meets World had it all. It seemed every character in the show played a major role in many episodes. The problems the characters faced were real-life situations. Corey and Topanga had a relationship arguably none have seen in television. They broke up and got back together many times on the show. They had chemistry. Shawn and Corey had one of the best friendships ever seen on television also. They fought, they hugged, they cried. They did everything together.

At the time Boy Meets World in 2000, television was shifting from scripted TV sitcoms to reality television. Shows couldn’t keep up with the success rate that reality television was gaining. Disney Channel still had a solid run with hit television shows such as Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens. The shows were still considered family-oriented and dealt with teenage problems, but the shows were losing their stability. It almost seemed like the producers and writers of these shows were trying too hard to appeal to their audience and going over the top with unrealistic content. It seemed like Disney shows were trying to shift away from showing problems that kids face in reality, such as underage sex, drug use, and underage drinking, and instead just trying to entertain their audience with comedy.

Boy Meets World didn’t shy away from such topics. From the time the show ended in 2000, other shows and other ideas were taking over mainstream. The idea of having shows that dealt with such racy topics were being eliminated from new and emerging TV shows as a plan for Disney shows to play it safe. The notion of sex and drinking isn’t even considered being discussed on Disney shows today. Everything is clean-cut. Even today, the episodes Prom-ises, Prom-ises and If You Can’t Be With The One You Love, both aired in 1995 from Boy Meets World, are not aired on the network because they deal heavily with sex and underage drinking, respectively. Prom-ises, Prom-ises, was an episode that aired during the shows fifth season that had to do with prom and Corey’s attempt to have sex with Topanga in a hotel room on their prom night. If You Can’t Be With The One You Love was also a season five episode. This episode featured Corey stealing a bottle of whiskey out of his father’s liquor cabinet and drinking in order to dull the pain of his recent breakup with Topanga. Corey and Shawn both became drunk and urinated on a cop car in the episode. Sex was a constant topic as the characters grew up. In fact, once Corey and Topanga were married, sex became a re-occurring topic in their relationship.

Corey and Topanga were considered by many to have the perfect relationship
Corey and Topanga were considered by many to have the perfect relationship

Yes, those may be topics that are uncomfortable for some, but they are topics that are real. People can relate to them, because a lot of that happens in the world today. The fact that Boy Meets World wasn’t afraid to cover these issues is a big reason why the show was so appealing and successful. This is another reason why Girl Meets World will not be able to compete with Boy Meets World. With Disney’s restrictions on particular content, it won’t give the writers of the new show the freedom to pick ideas and topics that they had on the original show. Down the road, this could develop into a problem in finding new content for future episodes and could cause the show to become repetitive.

In fact, in the 1990’s ABC shows as a whole were a huge success because a lot of them, just like Boy Meets World were family oriented and appealing to audiences. Check out Family Matters and Full House for examples. Ratings soared through the roof because people could relate to the content on the shows.

Today, we see Disney Channel shows such as Dog With A Blog, where a family dog that talks is the center of attention. Dog With A Blog may appeal to children and young teenagers because of humor, but there really isn’t any real-life content that kids can relate to that would set the show apart from other shows they compete against for ratings. Today, Girl Meets World couldn’t possibly fit in Disney’s theme of safe teenager television shows if it even considers to make an impact in comparison with Boy Meets WorldGirl Meets World will only work if it were on a different channel, such as ABC Family, where Boy Meets World was aired. ABC Family doesn’t have the same restrictions as opposed to Disney because they don’t necessarily appeal to the same audience. ABC Family is a bit more mature of a television network as far as viewer content is concerned. something that Boy Meets World thrived on. Girl Meets World simply will not be able to cover these racy topics because Disney Channel doesn’t approve of these issues.

ABC Family has many popular shows dealing with racy topics such as the shows, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and The Fosters. Secret Life is a show heavily based on teenage sex and enjoyed a strong run for numerous years on the network, and The Fosters is an up-and-coming show that is already gaining popularity while dealing with many different topics such as gay marriage.

Now it isn’t a fact that Girl Meets World won’t be successful today, but the fact that so many shows are watered down and the fact that the show is on a different, more kid-oriented and safer network so-to-speak really makes it difficult for shows today to contend with shows of the past 10-15 years. It is just a different time and a different place for television. If Girl Meets World can adapt to their audience or change their story lines or even change networks, then nothing is out of the question as far as the possible success that the show can have. Girl Meets World will spark some interest with multiple characters from the beloved 90’s hit making appearances, but in the end only time will tell if the new show is a success or a failure.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager was another successful show, even though it was primarily focused on sex
The Secret Life of the American Teenager was another successful show, even though it was primarily focused on sex

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Posted on by
Contributing writer for The Artifice.

Want to write about TV or other art forms?

Create writer account


  1. I agree that because the show is restricted from approaching real-life topics the episode content may be stuck on the surface level. The show will likely appeal to the younger audience targeted by Disney channel, but it likely will be a disappointment for those who are looking for a show like Boy Meets World. Ultimately, I think the show will do moderately well, but it will be nothing different than the other surface level TV shows Disney channel has been producing since its mid-2000s shift. Instead of producing shows like That So Raven and Lizzie McGuire that teach young teens about the real problems, they are airing shows that do none of those things.

  2. Connie Vang

    The Disney shows today don’t do jack all nowdays. BMW among other sitcoms of the 80’s and 90’s had a balance of comedy and strong moral ethics being presented to the audience. Disney shows today (or at least Jessie as I’ve not seen much of the others) rely heavily on cheap immature jokes about constipation, body odour, baldness, overweight-ness, etc. Now don’t get me wrong I do enjoy Jessie. But those jokes along with very few moral lessons can get tiresome.

    • Lattimore

      Boy Meets World is not a Disney Channel show. It was an ABC show and Disney began to play reruns. But it was not a Disney Channel show.

  3. I watched it during its original TGIF run. Along with Full House, Family Matters, Sabrina and a half dozen other shows that aired or premiered on TGIF (like the time they aired the pilot of Capitol Critters on Friday before moving it to another night).

    I watched from the very first episode, and liked it. It quickly became my favorite show of the TGIF line-up for a number of years. I still have several episodes I taped from their first broadcast.

  4. I totally agree! When I heard they were making Girl Meets World I was hoping it would be on ABC Family. I was so disappointed to hear that it would air on Disney Channel. When I think about the shows I watched on that channel growing up and compare them to what they play now, I’m appalled at the change. Everything that shows like Lizzie McGuire and Boy Meets World taught me is still relevant to the youth of today, but for some reason Disney Channel doesn’t seem to think that kids these days can handle it or need it. Hopefully Girl Meets World will breathe new life into Disney Channel.

  5. Danny Cox

    Hey, I liked your article! I think you make a good point and support it quite well. I think in addition, the fact that Corey and Topanga (and others) are coming back is something that is ultimately going to be lost on most viewers considering most viewers will be young children that probably never saw the original. I definitely remember watching the show growing up and might have given the reboot a chance if, as you say, it appeared on more controversy-accepting networks. But considering the fact that it is airing on Disney, there is slim to no chance that I nor anyone (accept extreme fans) will even give it a chance.

  6. Yes, I did too. Of course, I watched all the TGIF shows (until ‘Sabrina’ came on. By that point I just watched BMW) and can still remember watching the pilot episode of BMW in its original broadcast. I was also in 6th grade during the first season and wondered why Cory, Shawn and Topanga graduated two years before I did, lol. I stayed with the show til the very end.

    The following fall, the series was put on The Disney Channel and we didn’t have that channel. So my sister and I agreed to pay for it, record all the episodes and then get rid of it. Unfortunately, Disney did such a lousy job with the show, we eventually gave up.

  7. Millie Danner

    I remember being very young watching it with my siblings. I was 1 when it started and the only episode from the first season I remembered was the one when topanga put lipstick all over her face. Interestingly, that episode became a classic as it was mentioned time and time again later in the series. I remembered four episodes from season 2 and then my memory began to get way better as I remembered most of season 3. Believe it or not but I had fuzzy memories of Dinosaurs and I think baby talk but the TGIF lineup that I first fully remembered was Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step by Step, and Hangin With Mr. Cooper. I watched BMW until the very end but I remember even back then by season 5 I was not liking the new direction they were taking with the characters and plots but what was a kid to do by that time in the late 90’s? I was brought up watching TGIF since before I could remember and it was practically a Friday night ritual for me at that point. When ABC canceled TGIF I literally went in to withdrawal. I didn’t know what to do with my night.

  8. Boy Meets World was by far the most popular show to watch when I was growing up. It did begin to change when everyone began going off to college and such, but they still kept the show a goin. Of course the content wasn’t as interesting then because I was still a kid. I was no where close to understanding what it would be like to go away to college. Now nearly all Disney shows are trying to deal with things that are out of the age range of kids who watch the network. Its sad because I honestly believe it has caused youth to grow up with an unrealistic outlook and a much more mature outlook than they are ready for at young ages. And whats with all these shows about kid super stars or kids living in hotels?? I just don’t get it.

  9. I agree that airing Girl Meets World on Disney channel isn’t going to be the same as Boy Meets World was because of how watered downed the concepts are on Disney now a days. I can see the show going for possibly one season on Disney and being picked up by ABC Family later on.

  10. Helen Parshall

    Thank you for this piece. I have such high hopes for GMW, but I know that nothing has managed to hold a candle to BMW and other shows that I enjoyed at the time growing up. It’s sort of terrifying to think that kids are being left to discover some of these things on their own rather than being shown characters mediating these issues through the safer space of fiction. I know I worked out a lot of my own existential teen angst through characters like Cory and Topanga and Lizzie McGuire and the like. Excellent article! keeping my fingers crossed for GMW – we could use a blast from the past trends of television for kids.

  11. I haven’t watched Girl Meets World yet, but based on what I’ve seen from current programs on Disney Channel, I do not have high hopes for it. Kid/Pre-Teen television has changed so much, and I agree with what you said about Boy Meets World dealing with real issues that are no longer discussed in present adolescent programs. I actually just saw a GIF set on Tumblr today about an episode of Boy Meets World that talks about feminism and that GIF set still holds true today. If Girl Meets World can put something like that on its show, then maybe I’d be interested in watching it.

  12. I agree wholeheartedly! Disney Channel today, in my opinion, is aimed more towards preteens and below than in the past. The trailer for Girl Meets World seemed like a reboot made especially for the preteen generation

  13. I’ve watched some of Girl Meets World and based on what I’ve seen, it does not compare with Boy Meets World. Boy Meets World did an excellent job working with serious and real-life situations. This article definitely gave credit to this aspect of the show which I enjoyed. I think it’s important to recognize the Disney Channel audience though. From what I can tell, the intended audience is a younger age group. At this point, there’s no way the show can address all the issues that Boy Meets World covered. I’d like to hope that Girl Meets World will have that chance. Only then will we be able to really compare the two.

  14. It I just boring, children sitting in class. It is repeated over and over again.

  15. Stephanie M.

    Thank you for this article. Yes, Girl Meets World is watered down, sugary, and ridiculous compared to its predecessor. It only lasted for three seasons (or maybe it was two)? You’re right that some of the fault rests with Girl Meets World being aired on Disney Channel, but I agree the content itself was the biggest problem.

    Even when Girl Meets World tried to tackle serious topics, it failed. For example, the episode “Girl Meets Farkle” is about how Farkle might have Asperger’s Syndrome. Boy Meets World would’ve had the characters ask questions, make assumptions, maybe fight, and ultimately rally around their friend. Girl Meets World had Farkle agonize over getting the diagnosis, but Riley and Maya basically just said, “It’s fine, everybody’s weird.” Then, at the end of the episode, Corey allows Farkle to speak about Asperger’s to the class, but he doesn’t really say anything useful. He basically says, “I’m still me and I’m still weird; that’s okay.” Good message, but severely watered down from what I might have expected. In short, Boy Meets World felt like hanging out with real friends in middle school, high school, and college–truly getting to know them. Girl Meets World feels like sitting in a third grade classroom watching kids throw paper airplanes at each other.

Leave a Reply