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TV Series Review

In 1993, a 12-year-old boy named Cory Matthews walked into John Adams Middle School for the first time and, in so doing, met the world. In the following years, scads of TV-watching kids saw Cory grow from an insecure middle schooler to a self-assured college student who married his longtime sweetheart, Topanga. ABC's Boy Meets World, for them, became a cultural touchstone.

Life doesn't freeze once a show's cancelled, sometimes not even for the fictional characters. In the years since Boy Meets World aired its last episode (in 2000), Cory has grown up and grown older. In fact, he now teaches middle school history. And guess who's in his class? Riley, his tween daughter.

Welcome to Disney's Girl Meets World, a spinoff show that focuses on Riley and her best friend Maya as they enter a time of life when they begin to truly define themselves. Disney, clearly, would love to follow Riley for the rest of the decade, just as ABC did with Cory, tracing her development from middle school to college, from girl to woman.

And the House of Mouse does know a thing or two about developing sitcoms around growing kids. The year after Boy Meets World ended, Disney Channel introduced Even Stevens (starring a young Shia LeBeouf) and, the year after, Lizzie McGuire. That's So Raven, Hannah Montana and the Zack & Cody shows were all subsequent hits, and the tradition continues now with Austin & Ally and Liv and Maddie, among others. These shows are as reliable as a dinner at Cracker Barrel, really: Nothing wildly exciting about them, perhaps, but generally tasty and, often, quite wholesome.

But Girl Meets World, if it follows the template of its predecessor, may have deeper aspirations. While most Disney programs feature nice but softball lessons about the importance of friendship and being yourself, Boy Meets World at times wanted to express what adolescence really looked and felt like—and, as such, it sometimes dealt with some fairly serious issues. Cory got drunk and was arrested. He and Topanga even faced infidelity (well, OK, a few stray kisses). Girl Meets World seems to want to blend the two sensibilities, but whenever you're dealing with stuff like that, there's always a chance that the morals the show teaches will differ from your own.

Maya and Riley are both a little boy crazy, too, so flirtations and romances are already part of the mix and will only intensify as their story matures. Lying and cheating and other such things are sure to dog their steps toward adulthood. And we'll likely see lots of outlandish situations that you'd never want your own kids to duplicate when they meet the world.

Early on, we do see that Cory and Topanga are engaged parents, though. They love Riley and her younger brother, Auggie. They want what's best for them, even when they can't always figure out how to handle them (just like all the rest of us parents outside of TV's tight confines). It's nice that the series seems to be trying to tell kids that even when you're at an age when you think you have all the answers, the adults in your life may still have some wisdom worth listening to—even ones who grew up on TV.

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Episode Reviews

Girl Meets World: May 11, 2015
Girl Meets World: June 27, 2014



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Rowan Blanchard as Riley Matthews; Sabrina Carpenter as Maya Hart; Ben Savage as Cory Matthews; Danielle Fishel as Topanga Matthews; August Maturo as Auggie Matthews; Cory Fogelmanis as Farkle Minkus; Peyton Meyer as Lucas Friar; Cheryl Texiera as Katy Hart; Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Svorski






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Paul Asay

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