First of all: Girls Meets World is 100% a children’s show. That being said, it’s a surprisingly terrific one which not only manages to capture the essence of the much-loved Boy Meets World, but it also begins an exciting new chapter for the Matthews family - one that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, regardless of age.
Girl Meets World is brought to life by original series creators Michael Jacobs and April Kelly, and stars Sabrina Carpenter and Rowan Blanchard, who play Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga’s (Danielle Fishel) daughter Riley and her best friend Maya - thereby (respectively) filling the Cory and Shawn (Rider Strong) roles of the original series. Maya (Carpenter) is willing to make sacrifices in her life – sneaking out onto the subway - while Riley (Blanchard) is still trying to decide if her good-natured behavior is better left in the past. Also: boys! Meanwhile, the Mathew’s youngest son, Auggie (August Maturo), is… the nephew of Eric Matthews (Will Friedle), in every way, and is one of the two surprising breakouts in the premiere. The other is Farkle Minkus (Corey Fogelmanis), the son of Stuart Minkus (Lee Norris), who takes his father’s confidence and hilariously mixes it with a bit of unrequited romance and chivalry.
Carpenter and Blanchard fill their roles as the modern Cory and Shawn quite nicely, and as the premiere episode unfolds, their performances strengthen more so, proving two things: 1) Riley is absolutely the daughter of Cory and Topanga, and 2) Maya may be a better “Shawn Hunter” than the original. Either way, it’s through them that this show exists, and it’s because of their earnest energy and charisma that this show will continue on.
For fans of the original series, there’s more than a few moments where the series seemingly separates itself from Topanga Matthews - in story and dialogue - which will likely worry some fans who were hoping to see ABC’s modern woman continue upon her path. As such, the Topanga in the pilot exists as simply a familiar face, while Cory, Riley and Maya are establishing the foundation of the entire series. Fortunately, by the end of the premiere, a solid foundation is created and the series’ future looks very much secure – so every Topanga fan should be happy to hear that subsequent episodes will likely include her much more than the pilot – an introduction tale, essentially - ever realistically could.
If anything, Girls Meets World allows its now much older audience to see things from the perspective of the adults who, like in any kids show, are now largely just fodder for the youthful cast. Obviously, such things are largely one of the main requirements for children’s shows; however, in today’s world where children’s television is vast and often indistinguishably similar, the familiarity of Cory and Topanga – television surrogates for multiple generations – as well as having them in adult situations now helps create some distance from Riley’s story and, for once, makes you earnestly interested in what the parents have to say about all of this – even when it’s without the “cue: heartwarming music” signature.
Outside of Boy Meet World fans looking to see the continuation of Cory and Topanga’s story, Girl Meet World has created a world where parents can sit down with their children and watch a life’s journey continue in many of the same ways that theirs have. Sure, the messages conveyed may not be as weighty or dramatic as the original series, but the same pure heart that was driving the original series can be felt, as this new iteration attempts to find its own way to tackle similar topics in a much more Disney-friendly way.
All in all, Girl Meets World is a surprisingly enjoyable evolution of a series not many remember the strength of. As a pilot, Boy Meets World was near-perfect, and if it were to air today, on ABC, it would instantly become a hit. Girl Meets World is its own entity, however, on the Disney Channel, and if the quality of the pilot is any example of what the original creators of Boy Meets World can present in their first attempt at tackling a Disney-version of their franchise, then there’s no reason why fans of all ages shouldn’t check in with the Matthews family from time to time.
Girl Meets World airs Fridays on Disney Channel.