The Girl pilot premiered on June 27th, but I’m regrettably just now seeing it and after reading a barrage of reviews that made senseless comparisons and criticisms, I felt compelled to write my own. Off the steam of its parent show, Riley is in middle school and determined to have a stand-out personality, inspired by her unsupervised, insubordinate best friend, Maya (ala` Cory’s BFF Shawn Hunter). Riley fears she won’t make much of an impact on the world or meet her destiny playing it safe, so she tries to be more like the risk-taking Maya (Sabrina Carpenter). When Riley follows suit with Maya’s academic revolt, it causes conflict with her father, who is also their history teacher. In the fallout, Riley learns when to be rebellious for a cause and realizes that being herself is better for her and her friend.
Reviews for the 1st episode felt the need to overemphasize that the series was a “kid’s show” and not for the now-adults that grew up with Boy. I don’t understand. As if it’s not already apparent by the title, Girl Meets World was never promoted as focal-continuation of Cory and Topanga’s adult life. Furthermore, it’s an unreasonable expectation that a show with married adults who have children, no less on the Disney Channel and centered around a middle-schooler, wouldn’t be family-geared or child-friendly. This silly notation was also false advertising and inference. Although youngsters will likely enjoy it, it isn’t elementary-minded or slapstick. The dialogue is profoundly contemplative and mature; you end up repeatedly asking yourself “how old is Riley again?” Blanchard is small and baby-faced, but the words coming out of her mouth (along with her 15-year-old looking crush) confound you. Most impressive were scenes where Riley well-argues why she and Maya should remain friends, despite Maya insisting that she’s bad for her, anticipating that Cory will ultimately split them up. Another futile complaint was that it wasn’t like the original show. Connected spin-offs are to meet the challenge of maintaining legacy and making their own unique impression. Girl Meets World is nostalgically similar enough to Boy Meets World, while still having its own respectable personality. As Cory was, Riley’s 13 and straight-laced, but she’s much more assertive and fiery. Maya bends the rules and doesn’t have proper parental figures like Shawn, but she’s cooler, sharper and less arrogant. Cory’s a teacher who seeks to positively shape young minds like Mr. Feeny (who makes a sweet and touching cameo as Cory’s thoughts), but he’s less successful and goofy as he ever was. Minkus’ offspring , Farkle, is even in the mix, so lay off.
The Girl Meets World premiere was one of those rare, solid pilots that make you hope the following episodes stick with its gist (just add a little more Topanga). It was funny, endearing and had a strong moral that wasn’t campy. Girl Meets World airs Fridays at 8:30pm EST.