Boy Meets World is an inexplicably beloved show from the TGIF lineup, although I can’t see why: it’s cheesy, preachy, and worst of all cringe-inducing. I don’t know if that makes it a really good and accurate show about being a teenager or an awful one. My teenage years are abysmally cringe-inducing when looking back on them so I guess that makes it good?
I honestly disliked this show when it was on: I was a few years younger than the protagonist and still thought he was a dork. Also, something about Ben Savage’s face angers me. He looks like he should be a 70-year-old man hanging out at an off-track betting parlor instead of a teenage kid. His hair looks like it was bought out of a vending machine. I realize I’m devolving into ad hominem attacks, but this is a humor article (I think?) and there’s nothing easier than to make fun of somebody else’s looks.
I don’t remember this show that well except that it made me cringe something awful most of the time as an 11-year-old. In fact, I lazily googled “Best ‘Boy Meets World’ episodes” and picked the one that I thought would be the most fun to dig into.
Although the episode where Shawn dresses up like a girl to get the inside scoop of what it’s like to be a lady was a contender, I figured that in the political and social climate we’re in, making fun of a boy dressing up as a girl may come across as…I don’t know, hate-filled in some way? So instead we’re going to be having a whole lot of fun with teenage drinking in season 5, episode 18’s “If You Can’t Be With The One You Love…”
Season 5 Episode 18 – “If You Can’t Be With The One You Love…”
So we get the credit sequence with the gang sitting on a park bench and riding bikes and doing other pointless good-natured shit while Brian “I’m a musical genius” Wilson’s “Boy Meets World” theme song plays. This was a low period in Wilson’s career, and doing the theme song to this show is a pretty good barometer of where it was at. Anyway, the title sequence makes them look like a sub-par Friends and it thankfully finishes on one of Wilson’s trademark harmonies.
We’re in their stupid fake TV high school where the lockers are bigger than the students and the gang is exiting class. I wonder if those are just repainted lockers from Saved By The Bell. Shawn is bitching to Corey about how Mr. Feeny’s class on feudalism was boring and he randomly pushes a kid into a locker, who says “feudalism?” and Shawn nods and the kid he pushed looks about half a foot taller than him and could mop the floor with Shawn’s hair but instead walks away because he’s just a featured extra.
Topenga walks out of the classroom and Corey rather effeminately calls out to her to have a good weekend. She stops, looks him with a mixture of pity and disgust, and says you too, whoever you are, and keeps on walking. Corey weasily mentions to Shawn that Topenga sounded like a cold Tony (truth) and Shawn says stop it you dickless wonder.
Shawn says she’s dealing with this breakup with dignity while Corey is a sack of potatoes that cries all the time. Corey starts crying and sits on a conveniently placed full-sized couch in front of the trophy case in the hallway, which was nothing my or any other high school in reality has. Then again, because this high school is filled with TV stars I guess they have better amenities.
Shawn gives Corey the hot shit: he’s being such a pathetic bastard that he’s not invited to some stupid party that’s happening that weekend. Corey says it’s probably an oversight and Shawn says that nobody wants to be around “Corey The Downer,” which is a nickname I hope sticks. Shawn says in fact, I’ve had enough of your tears and splits, leaving Corey looking sad and more unattractive than ever.
Maybe he caught a glimpse of what his career after this show was going to be like.
CUT TO aforementioned party where people are dancing to generic music while Shawn’s girlfriend is asked by some blonde skank if she can dance with Shawn even though she’s his girlfriend and she throws some passive-aggressive shade to this aggressive-aggressive bitch. Corey The Dickless Wonder darkens this skank’s door (Kimberly? Sure.) and she runs over asking what are you doing here, dickless? He unattractively chuckles that he’s crashing the party, and she says get out.
Corey butters her up by saying she looks like Bridget Fonda and that her nose job looks great (I just now realize she has bandages on her nose, so that’s a thing), and this butters Kimberly up enough that she invites him in. She mentions Topenga is coming and he keeps pushing on the whole “But you’re beautiful, New Nose Kimberly!” because this is what passes for charm with this guy.
FADE-IN to LATER (because TIME HAS PASSED) and Corey is telling a story to his teenage peers of some past adventure between he and Shawn and his delivery sounds like he’s literally an old Jewish man telling jokes at the Friar’s Club. Shawn pulls him aside and says hello, Henny Youngman, you’re much more appealing than my shitty friend Corey so stick with this persona, eh?
Corey says he’s back in the saddle and ready to paddle (I don’t know, I’ve been drinking) and Shawn’s like that’s great, now leave me alone. Then Topenga walks in and she’s ultra-surprised to see her crappy ex-boyfriend at the party since she was hoping to find someone, anyone, else in existence to be with instead of him. Corey goes back to his dopey sad bitch self when they speak and Topenga is confused as to why everyone’s suddenly liking Corey.
She figures that everyone’s on drugs here so Kimberly The Skank swoops in for her leavings. We CUT TO Corey talking to himself in a bathroom mirror like he’s goddamn Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver and says you’re doing great, kiddo. Let me propose a toast: to us! And then he takes a pint of sweet brown liquor to his lips and has a look of absolute pleasure on his face like this is what he’s been missing all this time (hint: it is).
Reminds me of me only with less available handsomeness.
Yes, Corey’s on the sauce and he’s never been more popular! I will say this for the show: I’m only 5 minutes in and a lot has already happened. That’s the whip-crack pace of sitcom writing for you: set it up, move it forward, and resolve this garbage before people can realize they’ve been bamboozled for the past 21 minutes. Also, buy some cookies and paper towels and whatever other ephemeral shit we’re selling in-between. I realize this is a bitter and cynical way to look at television entertainment, but I never said I wasn’t a bitter, cynical man, so you get what you pay for here (which is nothing).
Anyway, back from commercial break, Shawn knocks on the bathroom door and Corey says in amusement to his other half in the mirror, “It’s Shawn, my sidekick!” and opens the door. Shawn says what are you doing in here, weirdo? Shawn spots the pint and says hey, is that yours? Corey says want a drink, dude? Shawn says no thanks, but what’s it taste like? Corey says it’s terrible, so take a drink. Rim shot. Shawn takes a swig because he wants to rule as well and Corey keeps taking swig after swig and they pass the bottle back and forth because they’re fucking teenagers and that’s what teenagers do, AMERICA!
LATER they’re rambling drunky-wunk down the street talking about what a great night they’re having and I’m wondering if this is actually a subtle advertisement for whiskey to children. Note to self. They take another swig out of the pint on the street, finish the bottle, and Shawn then throws the bottle into the air, which smashes on the street. What fun.
CUT TO some adult bum on the street and they say hey dude, just buy us a six-pack and you can keep five bucks out of it, and there they are getting some bum to buy them booze, and these guys are tearing this night apart. Anyway, the bum (I’m sorry, “homeless person”) comes out of the story and thinks they’re gay because they’re hugging each other and saying I love you so he says good for you, gay young men, while he hands over the bag. Like two complete n00bs they crack open their beers just outside the entrance of the store on a busy main street and immediately the cops roll up. And then FADE OUT (another commercial break? Well, those cookies aren’t going to sell themselves. Teenage drinking: Brought to you by Nabisco.)
This screengrab is almost as fuzzy as their perception!
FADE IN to Corey’s dad ordering Corey and Shawn to sit the fuck down at the kitchen table. He’s like, stay out of my booze! And when mom says Corey, this isn’t you, Corey’s dad shouts right in Shawn’s goddamn face that it’s his fault, not their sweet dickless baby boy Corey. Shawn says fuck this, man: sure, I had him drink the booze, who gives a shit? Corey’s like, no not you Shawn, it’s me, I tells ya!
Shawn says to Corey let me take the heat since I’m the fuck-up around here. Corey’s dad comes back into the kitchen and says you two need to stay away from each other because Shawn’s a shitbag and Corey says no way, homey, we ride or die. Corey’s dad gets in his face and pokes at his chest because poke poke poke.
He’s just mad that Ben Savage makes more per episode than he does. Like, way more.
Shawn stands up and says fuck this noise, I’m leaving. Corey then gets back to his crying lessons about not having Topenga anymore and cops to his dad that he took the damn whiskey, all right? Corey’s parents looks sad and ashamed and his dad says sorry about the harsh words, Shawn. Shawn looks at him like he’s going to put some sunlight into his neck and Corey turns to Shawn saying I guess we can’t drink anymore, bro. Ugh.
CUT TO class on Monday morning where Corey The Creep sits behind Topenga and says sorry about Friday night, but there was a reason I was acting so strange. Topenga says I don’t really care so fucking FACED, Corey! Nobody in your life gives a shit about your wah-wah teenage bullshit, least of all your ex.
Feeny continues with his lecture about feudalism and Shawn stands up saying fuck you, Feeny. Fuck all of this! I’ll kill you, I’ll kill your whole family! (Or something to that effect.) His friends turn around and says cool it, friend-o. Feeny kicks him out and there goes Shawn. Corey goes after his male lover because that’s how friendship works, homophobe.
Back at Shawn’s house, Shawn pops open a beer and offers Corey one because he’s generous and cool thanks to drinking. Shawn says fuck this man, I’ve been drinking all week because I’m the best. Corey’s brother comes in and says what are you doing, asshole? You know alcoholism runs in our family and dad’s an abusive drunk. They start fighting and abruptly Shawn’s girlfriend and Topenga show up for…some reason.
“Sorry, wrong scene. We’ll just wait in the hallway.”
Corey spills the tea that he was drinking at the party and Topenga flips shit. Shawn throws some gas on this fire because he’s a goddamn rebel and everyone plays the rhetorical question game for a minute. This episode has escalated into an after-school special in the last four minutes and out of nowhere Shawn pushes his girlfriend into the door. Shawn’s girlfriend splits and Topenga realizes her ride has left so she wanders off. Shawn has an uh-oh face on and that’s that. Next commercial break will probably be selling bandages to cover the bruises!
CUT TO Shawn walking up to Corey’s house where he says to Corey’s dad sorry Brosephine, I understand if you want me to stay away from Corey. Corey’s dad says come on in for a drink and we’ll talk. They have a heart-to-heart. Corey comes in looking like a broken-faced goon. Anyway, Shawn’s girlfriend has dumped him. Maybe Corey can give him some tips on how to discreetly wipe away tears.
CUT TO (jeez, so many cut-to’s here) school and Shawn apologizing to Feeny and offering him $12, which is legitimately a kind of funny thing that transpires in this teleplay. Then here comes Topenga and they both take a ride on the apology carousel. AND THEN COREY CREEPILY LEANS OVER ON HIS DESK AND HALF-WHISPERS TO TOPENGA THAT HE STILL LOVES HER. Smooth.
Back in not-serial killer land, Shawn’s girlfriend comes in and they make up and it’s just a conga line of “I’m Sorries” for Shawn. AND THAT’S IT, THAT’S WHERE WE LEAVE THESE JERK-OS.
Well that was kind of stupid. I mean, it really wraps up in a neat little package and honestly, if those two goobers didn’t open their beers on a busy corner right outside of a bodega, they would have finished the night by having a few more beers and a whole lot of laughs.
I make it no secret that I’m a fan of the sauce (as if you can’t tell by my writing “style”). I’m not going to wade into the relatively dangerous waters of advocating teenage drinking, but I will wade into the relatively dangerous waters of advocating adult drinking.
Simply put: it’s the bee’s knees. There’s nothing I like more than a fresh-pulled pint at my local or a glass of wine or five at the end of a long day. The only adults who shouldn’t drink–besides those that make a conscious decision not to–are people who can’t handle their drink and become abusive, insane monsters while drunk or become full-blown alcoholics (See: A lot of people. Hey, you may know one personally! Lucky you).
But if you like drinking, wait until after 5 PM (or 3, or whenever, I’m not your boss), and drink in moderation, go ahead and pour yourself one or many. It really takes the edge off, is moderately priced, and is widely available.
As for this show: it’s slightly less cringe-inducing than I remember, but then again this was when they were a little older in the series and (slightly) less embarrassing in general. Would I watch this show again? No, of course not, I’m a grown man.
What else? Something insulting about Ben Savage’s face, I’m sure, but I’ve already pumped that well dry in this recap. Topenga was always cute and grew up to be good-looking as well.,so good for her. I always liked Mr. Feeny as a character, and he was played by the excellent William Daniels. And…well, that’s it. That’s Boy Meets World: kind of a “well, that’s it,” show. It filled a half hour in the TGIF lineup and I hope it sold someone a lot of cookies.