Disney Channel's anticipated Boy Meets World spinoff, Girl Meets World, is a series about the funny experiences and heartstring-tugging tribulations endured by now-married couple Cory and Topanga Matthews' (Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel) 13-year old daughter, Riley, as well as her brother Elliott and best friend Maya.
Children of the '90s are waiting to learn which other endearing BMW characters are returning in the new show. However, executive producer Michael Jacobs (the co-creator of BMW) isn't banking on nostalgia to carry this ship out to sea. Indeed, Fishel and her former costar Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter) have emphasized that GMW is foremost a standalone series about a new generation coming of age (and not a glorified reunion special, as some might be anticipating).
EW is reporting that 11-year old Rowan Blanchard has been cast as young Riley, following in her onscreen father's footsteps by serving as the emotional fulcrum on a family-friendly sit-com. The young actress might be recognizable to some for her appearance in The Back-Up Plan and leading performance in Spy Kids: All the Time in the World; otherwise, she's as much an unknown talent as Savage was when he appeared in Boy Meets World twenty years ago. (How time flies, right?)
Here's Jacobs statement on the casting:
“As soon as Rowan walked into the room, I was reminded of why Ben Savage was loved as Cory Matthews. Rowan is real and accessible and I am hopeful this girl is about to meet a world that will love growing up with her as well.”
As for the Riley character, here is a description:
13 years old, indelible personality, an adorable girl on the cusp of whatever comes next in life, and wanting to rush into it head first. She is fiercely loyal to her friends, and spends most of her time juggling the obstacles that life throws her way… there is no obstacle in this girl’s world that can dampen her bright spirit and eternal optimism.
Girl Meets World catches up with
Cornelius Cory and Topanga in real time, as the former has followed in the footsteps of his mentor and grandfather figure George Feeny (William Daniels) by becoming a junior high school science teacher. There is room for BMW star Will Friedle to pop up as Riley's uncle Eric, as well as Betsy Randle and William Russ to appear as her grandparents. However, the non-Matthews clan members from BMW are more of a long shot (at least, beyond an episodic stint).
As to whether GMW will catch on like its predecessor, well, that's anyone guess. It will be geared more towards family audiences, but the tone may (or may not) fall closer to 21st-century Disney Channel series Hanna Montana and That's So Raven than some might prefer. Ultimately, though, it's the current generation that GMW aims to resonate with, not older viewers; hopefully, it does so in a thoughtful and touching manner that feels like an appropriate reflection of our modern times.
The Girls Meets World pilot begins production next month.