It seems we’re nostalgic for the 1990s. A “Powerpuff Girls” reboot is in the works. A new “Jurassic Park” movie is in production. Boyz II Men recently toured with New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees.
Add this to the pop-cultural renaissance: the popular ABC sitcom “Boy Meets World” is getting a sequel. “Girl Meets World” debuts Friday on the Disney Channel, and local fans are eager to revisit the coming-of-age comedy.
When Ted Stauble was 15, he was new to Wichita, struggling at school and frustrated with life. Like a lot of teenagers, he was looking for inspiration. Every week, he tuned into ABC for a half-hour dose of it.
“During that time, it was another reminder that there is hope,” he said. “We all have lessons to learn, and a Mr. Feeny will always be somewhere to listen.”
It’s been 14 years since fans said goodbye to Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel), and Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong). The end of the show signaled the advent of adulthood for many of the loyal viewers like Jill Bosley who watched the series during its seven season run from 1993 to 2000.
“The show was real, dealing with real issues,” said Bosley, a 38 year-old nonprofit director from Wichita. “I don’t recall another show being on-air at the time that dealt with teenage life and some of the issues and struggles that teenagers were going through. Parents, siblings, school, peer pressure – I’d say the show brought to light what teenagers were going through in the ’90s.
“People are still fans. I think that says a lot about the show. We will always remember the love Topanga and Cory had for one another. It was a staple in the romantic world of teenagers.”
Savage and Fishel reprise their roles in the new show, though this time as parents living in New York City, where their characters moved in the “Boy Meets World” series finale. Topanga is now a successful lawyer, and Cory is a middle-school history teacher. The show will feature many other actors from the original series, including Strong as Cory’s best friend, Shawn, and William Daniels as the venerable Mr. Feeny, now in his late 80s.
“Girl Meets World” though focuses on seventh-grader Riley (Rowan Blancard), the daughter of Cory and Topanga, and her best friend, Maya (Sabrina Carpenter). Much like the dynamic of Cory and Shawn’s friendship, Maya is the frequent catalyst for causing Riley to question authority or rebel. In the first episode, the pair sneaks out of Riley’s bedroom to ride the subway where they meet Lucas Friar, a potential love interest for Riley. They discover that Cory will be their history teacher on the first day of school, and Maya later starts a homework rebellion that causes friction between father and daughter.
The new series will be especially relevant to Stauble, who is now 35 and a stay-at-home father. It’s sort of a full-circle experience for him. He’s gotten his 11-year-old daughter, Rhiannon, hooked, and they’re looking forward to seeing the new episodes and watching it together.
“There is emotion and connection with these shows, and they allow her to understand where her dad’s teachings come from,” Stauble. “I love the fact that she would prefer to watch these shows over some weird cartoons or shows from today. I want Rhiannon to understand that there are bumps in the road, and no matter what, we can make them work out.”
Savage said in a recent conference call that he knows kids today are living in a harsher world than the one Cory and Topanga grew up in. He hopes that the show will help parents better relate to what their kids are going through.
“That’s one of the goals of the show,” he said. “That was one of the goals of ‘Boy Meets World’ … to impart life lessons and wisdom in a relatable way that is funny and without being too preachy.”