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The Disturbing Secret Message of <i>Boy Meets World</i>

While the rest of the '90s nostalgia-obsessed Internet is reveling in the idea of Disney Channel's recently announced Boy Meets World sequel series, we're not quite so optimistic. Don't get me wrong -- I re-watched just about the entire original Boy Meets World run on MTV2 this spring, and would watch the hell out of this proposed adorably-titled Girl Meets World, especially if Cory and Topanga are actually called back as the parents of the titular preteen girl. But looking back (or, if you also seriously watched two hours of Boy Meets World five days a week for four months) (and once again got totally creeped out by Fred Savage sexually harassing Topanga) (and saw Mr. Turner, remembered him for the first time and then laughed when they completely forgot about him after his motorcycle accident), Boy Meets World was not the wholesome, perfect series so many of my fellow fans seem to recall. And I don't just mean in terms of everything horrible happening to Shawn, that time Eric taped Rachel without her knowledge, adult Mr. Feeny all but stalking Cory and his friends or the now-obvious Christian indoctrination weaved throughout this show -- all of which, to be clear, doesn't make the show less wholesome, just a little bit stranger to see now -- I'm talking about the emotional center of the show: Cory and Topanga's relationship.

The constant -- if not entirely retconned -- heartbeat of Boy Meets World was how perfect and aligned in the stars Cory and Topanga's true love was. Despite hell, high water, ski-lodge vixen Lauren, a Yale acceptance letter and the married students' dorms (?), nothing could break up or permanently come between the two. This works fine and dandy on shows about and geared toward adults -- look at, say, Jim and Pam on The Office, who feel like the reigning King and Queen of TV Coupledom -- but Boy Meets World was a family-oriented show that my fellow 12-year-old classmates and I were obsessed with. Cory and Topanga served as our relationship role models, which sounds nice in theory but proves to be extremely problematic, as they stopped each other from following their dreams because they were that much in love. I'm not saying it didn't work for their characters or the show, but to girls in middle school, not having found your Cory before high school hit basically proved that you would be alone forever.

I realize this sounds dramatic, but so are relationships when you are literally closer to graduating kindergarten than high school. I recently talked to a friend whose mom didn't allow her little sister to watch Boy Meets World because it so strongly emphasized teen relationships over personal goals, and she didn't want her daughter to think that having a boyfriend was the ultimate or only way to be happy. She also didn't want her to hold on to a long-term relationship that clearly wasn't working later down the line just because Cory and Topanga persevered through their struggles. Cory and Topanga did date around a bit in their younger teenager years (remember that episode when Cory and Shawn went to the club, and Cory-pretending-to-be-Shawn met the mysterious hot "French Girl" who turned out to be Topanga?), but in the end, it only brought them closer together.

Obviously, Boy Meets World wasn't the only source for our unreasonably high expectations for ourselves when my friends and I were teenagers, but I'd be lying if I said every time one of my friends or I got out a long(ish)-term relationship, there wasn't a -- admittedly embarrassing -- tearful "I thought we were going to be like Cory and Topanga" kind of confession. I know very little about the current states of couples on tween shows, but I fear that Girl Meets World will subject a new generation of teen girls (and boys, presumably, not that I've ever been able to figure them out, amirite?) to the similar torment of not finding your soulmate until after -- perish the thought -- elementary school.

Then again, if Girl Meets World brings back Griff Hawkins -- one Mr. Adam Scott -- then who cares about the burden to young America? I'm in.

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