Earlier this month, we learned that Disney Channel was working on a Boy Meets World sequel about Cory and Topanga raising their daughter Riley. And yesterday, Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel confirmed they’ve signed on to reprise their roles. Meaning: This thing is really happening and this thing is really exciting. Boy Meets World was a defining show for a certain subset of a certain age group (mid-nineties-era tweens and low teens who tended to stay in most Friday nights), so Disney Channel and original BMW creator Michael Jacobs better not mess it up. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we came up with a list of rules this sequel must follow.
1. Bring Back Shawn, Eric, Mr. and Mrs. Matthews, and, Of Course, Feeny
This will be a subject of much debate, but the way we see it, for this to be a proper Boy Meets World follow-up, it needs Shawn, Eric, Cory’s parents, and Feeny. Cory and Shawn’s relationship was ultimately the core of Boy Meets World. In a given episode, Shawn was either there for whatever trouble Cory got into or was the first person Cory turned to to try to fix whatever trouble he got into. Not to mention that so much of the show focused on how their relationship evolved and changed as they got older. Any sequel would need to explore what their friendship means now as fathers. You can say a similar thing about the relationship between Cory and Eric, as it showed how two brothers can grow both closer and more dissimilar over time. However, ultimately, you need Eric there because that guy was funny, especially in the later seasons and especially with Feeny. When you consider how often Cory turned to his parents for advice, they should probably be around as recurring guest stars. (Also, they were great.) And, finally, you obviously need Feeny. Feeny’s character was the show’s rock and William Daniels was the cast’s rock. He brought a certain level of maturity and gravitas to BMW, making it feel like more than just a show for kids. And there ends the list of essentials. There were other characters who would be great to see in cameos (Angela and Jack and Jonathan Turner and Minkus, for instance), but none of them are essential to a BMW sequel. (And we won’t complain if Adam Scott comes back for an episode to reprise his role as the infamous Griff.)
2. Use the Best Versions of These Characters
Over its seven seasons, BMW’s main characters changed significantly. It seemed to reflect both the actors’ developing skill sets and the evolution of the characters. It was often a change for the better … but not always. Cory went from generic young whippersnapper to really, for a lack of a better term, Jewish. By the college years he was a little Albert Brooks, nervous and questioning everything. Just listen to how he says “underpants” in this clip, while looking like a young Mandy Patinkin. It was really, really funny and distinct. This version of Cory needs to make the sequel.
Conversely, Topanga went from a hippie-dippie weirdo to little more than a straight-man with some quirks and a funny name. Obviously, her Jerry Lewis of a future husband needed someone more centered to balance him out, but it was to the detriment of her character. The sequel should feature the return of the weirder version of Topanga — and that daughter better have a middle name like Mooncloud.
Shawn and Eric both started off as generic, good-looking cool guys and both changed significantly by the show’s end. Shawn turned into Emo McPoetface and Eric became a slovenly maniac. In Shawn’s case it was a little bit too much, and when he comes back for Girl Meets World he needs to cheer up a little. Eric, however, should continue to let his freak flag fly. This is a character who in one BMW episode grew a giant beard and carried around a thousand-page manifesto that had writing on only one page. (If you’ve never seen that classic episode, watch this.) He obviously won’t be the star of GMW, but the show will need a crazy uncle.
3. The World Meeting Girl Should Be Quixotic and Unexceptional
From the beginning, what made Cory Matthews so exceptional was how unexceptional he was. He wasn’t a nerd or a jock. He wasn’t smart or stupid. He wasn’t cool or particularly uncool. He may have been a bit odd, as TV characters are, but mostly he was a kid somewhere in the middle. The unique uncertainty that this causes is fundamental to the Boy Meets World universe and should be carried over to Riley.
Also fundamental to Cory was his idealism. Though he wasn’t especially imaginative, Cory demanded and expected a lot from the world: He led a protest against his high school when a teacher went back on a “no test” policy. He was a hopeless romantic, forever believing that he and Topanga would be together forever. Riley should be her own character, but without this inherited trait, the show’s formula will be off.
4. It Should Be Set in Philadelphia
At the end of the series, Cory and Topanga move to New York City. It was a big deal, as moving often is, regardless of the fact that it’s only an hour-long train ride away. But the close-yet-farness of Philadelphia to America’s most iconic metropolis was an important setting because the city brings out a certain inferiority complex in these characters that is essential to the show, so they should return. And for purely logistical reasons, returning to Philadelphia will make it easier to justify why all the old characters are still around.
5. Air It on Friday
In a post-DVR/Hulu/Netflix landscape, it’s easy to argue that time slots don’t matter anymore, but there was something special about BMW being on Friday nights. Yes, BMW was family-friendly, like the rest of the TGIF programming; however, it was the first to focus solely on a kid. Family Matters had Urkel, but Carl often was the one pushing the plot forward. Full House and Step by Step had kids, but they were about the family as a unit. In BMW, the kid was the focus and the family was secondary, if not tertiary. And, though the show was far from edgy (it took six seasons before Cory even saw Topanga’s butt), it did feel cool to have a show that was more for you than your parents. For kids who are not old enough or popular enough to hang out at the local malt shoppe, roller rink, Burger King parking lot, it’s an ideal Friday night activity. And for the twentysomethings who will be watching for nostalgia reasons, checking out Girl Meets World early on a Friday night would be the perfect way to wash off the work week’s adult responsibilities and begin the weekend feeling young and carefree again.