I grew up with Boy Meets World, the kitschy 90’s show that taught us how to be better friends and better people. I loved that show so much, especially Topanga, because she was a strong, smart and funny female character. (Even if as a kid I didn’t realize that’s why I liked her). A few years ago Disney started the show Girl Meets World (GMW), a spin off about Cory and Topanga’s teenage daughter Riley. And I was pumped.
The show did everything that its predecessor did, it dealt with relationships, family, real world problems and more, all with a sense of humour, charm and a sincerity that the original show was known for. The difference? There was a female lead, dealing with female problems and learning to become a strong and independent woman (just like her mama).
While there are dozens of female centred shows on tv, it’s rare to find one that doesn’t somehow revolve around men or superficiality. This is especially problematic in the children’s shows that are being produced. While shows like Shake It Up and Hannah Montana are fun kids shows that had cool female leads, they didn’t deal with the real issues of girlhood like GMW.
Even when Riley has a crush or boy problems, her female best friend comes first. Privileging female friendship over relationships with men is something that’s rarely seen on TV, and we need more of it. Her parents also help to encourage this type of relationship, just what we’d expect from Cory and Topanga.
There is one final season of this show that has yet to air (thank god). I look forward to seeing how this gang end their journey and send the characters into the world. This show has been so important and I hope that it inspires many young girls (AND BOYS) to live their lives in a way that maintains their friends and family in a productive and positive way. Finally I hope that other shows can take this lead and show a more well rounded version of girls and girlhood.
Thank you Girl Meets World for all that you’ve done.