Review: Disney’s Girl Meets World and I Didn’t Do It — Walt’s spinning in his grave

Disney Channel/Family's Girl Meet World title card

Girl Meets World title card (screenshot via YouTube)

Girl Meets World: C+

I Didn’t Do It: D-

Riley with her arm around Maya

It’s a Disney show, no way around it (screenshot via YouTube/Family)

Don’t be mistaken—despite its relationship with Boy Meets WorldGirl Meets World is a Disney Channel sitcom through and through. It’s often simplistic, clunky and bland, but (and there’s a big but were dealing with now) throughout the series’ run it features many members of the cast of Boy Meets World, one of TV’s most celebrated teen sitcoms.

In Girl Meets World, Cory and Topanga’s daughter Riley desperately tries to find her place in the world. If the show’s title isn’t enough of a hint, or the theme song, they sure as heck beat you over the head with it by making repeated references to the girl finding her place in the world premise in the dialogue.

Cory, Riley and Maya talking in Riley's bedroom

It’s his world, stupid (screenshot via YouTube/Disney Channel)

“It’s not your world yet; it’s still my world,” Cory says near the start of the debut episode but by the end of it he changes his tune and says, “Riley, I’ve already met the world, it’s your turn.”

In addition to the problem of finding her identity and place in the world, Riley also has trouble with boys and in the first episode she is eager to shed her good girl reputation, but seems to learn to be content with herself by the end of it. Giving up trying to be a bad girl seems like a good call as Miley Cyrus and Rihanna were so determined to shed their good girl personas and look how well that turned out for them.

Girl Meets World also features Farkle, a rather annoying oddball who talks in third person. He reminds me of Family Matters’ Urkle, perhaps because of his similar sounding name. Boy Meets World also had Minkus (whom I forgot all about until someone else brought him up) who was a know-it all-like Farkle, but Farkle seems more over the top.

Cory dragging Lucas across the cafeteria on Girl Meets World

There’s something off about Lucas (screenshot via YouTube/Family)

There’s also Lucas, a Texas boy, who Riley and her best friend Maya randomly meet on a subway ride to nowhere and somehow miraculously, not only goes to their school, but also has a class with them.

The strange series of coincidences don’t stop there. Cory also happens to be Riley’s teacher and since he’s her teacher that makes it possible for him to notice Lucas with the girls at the table during lunch. Cory asks him what part of Texas is closest to Mexico, Lucas says El Paso, Cory says let’s go there and drags him out of the cafeteria by his chair.

Maya attempts to set papers on fire in class

Maya attempts to set some homework on fire in the middle of class because who hasn’t (screenshot via YouTube/Disney Channel)

Adding to the absurdity that is Lucas, Cory’s class is a circus with Farkle taking it over and Maya starting a protest against homework since she’s such of a bad girl. Maya eventually sets off the sprinklers after she tries to set some papers on fire in class.

It doesn’t help that Cory doesn’t seem to be a good teacher either. He just mentions the Civil War, gets the kids to turn to page 48 then page one of their textbooks, asks them to read what’s in between and gives them an assignment of writing three pages of whatever they’re interested in. So much for “jamming some learning into your heads” as Cory put it.

Girl Meets World loses touch with reality sometimes, like when Riley somehow summons superhuman strength to open a subway car door (screenshot via YouTube/Family)

Girl Meets World loses touch with reality sometimes, like when Riley somehow summons superhuman strength to open a subway car door (screenshot via YouTube/Family)

By the end of the episode in yet another one in a million coincidence, Riley and Maya also meet the same woman from the previous subway ride. During this trip however, Maya pushes Riley out of the train, but then Riley opens the closed subway doors with her bare hands and the door remains open until they have their chat so they can run out the train as friends. Like what? How does a preteen girl open closed subway doors and gets the subway system to stand still until she’s done chatting? Forget the daughter of Cory and Topanga—she must be the daughter of Superman.

The thing primarily saving this show from being like any other Disney Channel (or Nickelodeon) live action sitcom in the past ten or 15 years is the novelty of seeing the Boy Meets World cast years later, however it’s a shame the material they have to work with isn’t any better. While most of Girl Meets World‘s debut episode is tepid, it picks up by the end, but that’s also when the show really goes off the rails in terms of realism. I’m referring here to Riley opening the subway doors by hand and Maya trying to set papers on fire in class. While the acting is rather good considering this show is produced for the Disney Channel, if you’re old enough to remember Boy Meets World you might still leave the debut episode a bit disappointed.
A screenshot of Disney Channel/Family's I Didn't Do It

I Didn’t Do It title card (screenshot via YouTube/Disney Channel)

Girl Meets World isn’t as bad as Disney’s other new show I Didn’t Do It, however. I Didn’t Do It is painful, one of those shows you have to feel sorry for the actors and wonder if they’re aware of how bad the program is. I Didn’t Do It’s main problem is its awkward jokes, which are poorly written and so obvious a toddler could guess the punch line. Many live action kids sitcoms are like that, but this one takes it to a whole other level.

Showing excitement for a 4 a.m. school trip

No one is excited to be up at 4 a.m. for a school trip (screenshot via YouTube/Disney Channel)

For example, a character says, “Believe me no one in their right mind is happy with being at school at 4 a.m.” So guess what happens next…yes, you’re right, another character bursts into the scene immediately after saying, “Who-hoo” and gets overly enthusiastic about being up so early. Bonus round: What happens next? Ding, ding, ding, you’re right, the first character acts unamused and cracks another lame joke, “There you have it.”
A curtain gag on I Didn't Do It

Oh you thought that remote was for the TV not the curtains…(screenshot via YouTube/Disney Channel)

Believe it or not those are some of the better jokes, but the obvious jokes, keep coming and coming and coming. It’s absolutely relentless. In the episode I reviewed, the main characters head to a hotel and one character is surprised when what he thinks is a TV remote opens the curtains [insert laugh track here], one of the characters opens the mini fridge without realizing the hotel charges exorbitant prices for the drinks inside [insert laugh track here], another character gets stuck out on the balcony and can’t call for help as her phone is in the hotel room [insert laugh track here]. It’s all been done before. You may not remember where, perhaps on a show where they weren’t so trigger-happy with the laugh track, but you know you’ve seen it all before.
An actor over acting on I Didn't Do It

Overacting 101 (screenshot via YouTube/Disney Channel)

The characters aren’t very inspired either. You have the nerdy kid who gets excited by the dullest things, the girly girl who packs along a ridiculous amount of clothing for a trip and perhaps the most original of the bunch a germaphobe. It’s all quite miserable and I wish I was exaggerating, but I feel that roughly 90 per cent of the episode’s jokes are predictable. Making things worse is that the show’s laugh track is almost always on despite that the jokes are not funny. I know this show is targeted to kids, but even so, you don’t have to insult their intelligence. Kids deserve something with more substance than this crap.

I Didn’t Do It makes That’s So Raven look like Shakespeare in comparison and I doubt Bart Simpson himself could save it. I think there’s hope for Girl Meets World, however but it needs time to find its groove though and we’re likely looking at next season for that as Danielle Fisher said on Larry King that they already filled the entire first season or 21 episodes. I Didn’t Do It is just painful, I want to say they should cancel the thing but I doubt it’s going anywhere. There are a lot of awful sitcoms on the air (The Mindy Project is still on for God’s sake) and when it comes to kids’ TV the networks are even more tolerant of crap for some reason. YTV just renewed Some Assembly Required for example. They say the children are our future and if this is what they’re subjected to as kids I’m really nervous to see what happens when they take the helm of ABC, NBC and CBS in a few decades (if those networks manage to last that long).

Episodes Reviewed: Girl Meets World (Girl Meets World) and In The Doghouse With The Whitehouse (I Didn’t Do It)

Girl Meets World airs a special sneak peek Friday at 9:34 p.m. (after the Disney Channel original film Zapped) on Family
I Didn’t Do It airs Fridays at 7 p.m. on Family
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