It was a little bit surprising to see a non-comic or science fiction show like Boy Meets World among the panels for SLCC ‘17. Turns out, it was also awesome.
TGIF is arguably one of the greatest generational pop culture influences in American history, and Boy Meets World may just be the best show featured in TGIF’s lineup. Clearly, there’s staying power. Below are the highlights from the BMW panel:
“It’s almost like going to church for me.” – Cassidy Ward
One of the strongest themes from the panel was the universal agreement that there is an unforgettable goodness to BMW that can be appreciated at any stage of the viewer’s life. As a young person, Mr. Feeny seemed almost supernaturally wise, and the panel agreed that as adults, Feeny’s wisdom still rings true. For the panelists, the show was entertaining in their younger years, but as grownups they can appreciate the dynamic quality of the show’s writing and how carefully and realistically it showed BMW’s characters encountering and solving problems in authentic, positive ways for other people to model. The panel also noted that like all shows in the TGIF lineup, BMW didn’t hide from portraying meaningful relationships between parents and children, and appreciated that as they now watch the show as adults they understand the parents in BMW on a deeper level.
“It was cool to see a girl that says I am me. I am different. I can take charge.” – Taylor Hunsaker, speaking about Topanga
One of the more interesting themes from the panel’s discussion was how the characters in BMW were not just fresh and positive for the audience, but they were so relatable that they transcended gender association. Topanga’s independence was recognized as being extremely positive for young women growing up, but Corey’s optimism and Shawn’s resilience were familiar character traits that girls saw in themselves too. Despite Eric’s character undergoing a change towards the wacky over the course of the series, Eric’s heart and willingness to see the best in people were also admired qualities. I think this relates to the attractive wholesomeness offered by BMW; it matters less which character looks the most like you when all of the characters are recognizably good and admirable in ways that are aspirational for anybody.
“Cory takes things so seriously, and he’s so young. I’d tell my daughter to stay away. Cory should probably have a restraining order.” – Candace Tarkeshian
The panel acknowledged that while grand, romantic gestures and a stereotypical lifetime romance from childhood into adulthood make for a wonderful on-screen ideal, in real life… that’s all kind of creepy. Still, the Cory and Topanga romance represents an ideal form for how very different people can be complementary to each other, and the Cory and Shawn bromance also illustrates the special bond two people can have when they unconditionally support each other. The panel also contrasted the portrayal of parents in BMW with today’s television shows, and applauded the efforts of BMW, and the later efforts made in Girl Meets World, to represent parents that were engaged and involved in their children’s lives. One audience member commented that as a foster parent, he appreciated BMW for showing healthy family and friend relationships to kids that had rough relationship experiences in their own lives.
Boy Meets World came at a time when it was OK to be unapologetically positive while also feeling real. That mattered and matters to people. Boy Meets World may never have won any awards, but instead won the hearts of a generation. After being reminded of the impact Boy Meets World had on people’s lives, it didn’t feel weird to go to a Comic Con panel about the show. It felt right.
Panel members included Kay-B, McCord Larsen, Cassidy Ward, Taylor Hunsaker and Candace Tarkeshian, and was moderated by Jaclyn Weist. It is very likely I’ve misquoted them above despite my best efforts to keep good notes during the panel. Any errors in transcription or interpretation are my own.