Growing up, Cory and Topanga felt like family. I watched every
Boy Meets World episode — whether they were celebrating prom, or mourning the death of Shawn's dad — it was my Friday night. As a parent, there are many lessons from Boy Meets Worl d that I want my kids to know, I just hope they're as open to learning as Topanga.
Yes, there are serious flaws in the show. There is little to no diversity, and upon
re-watching some of the episodes (now streaming on Disney+), I realize that the internalized misogyny that afflicted so many of the people in my generation is fairly rampant in the series. It says something that when I was watching it in the 1990s these subtle digs at feminism did not even register with me. (The same can be said for many shows I enjoyed. Saved By The Bell, anyone?) Producers try to make Topanga a foil to all of the toxic masculinity, with her sometimes staunch feminist approach, but in doing this, they made her appear less like a person to be lauded, and more like someone to be laughed at. Thankfully, that's not the whole of the show. Cory and Shawn seem to turn themselves around through their school years, appreciating the women in their lives and recognizing their value. (And Topanga was the one to get into Yale, so there is that.)
If You Want To Change Your Hair, Go To A Stylist.
Or better yet, learn to love yourself.
In Season one, episode four, Cory and Shawn have the great idea to chemically straighten Cory's hair. Things do not go well, as you can imagine. As someone with super curly hair, I can tell you, straightening products need to be left to the professionals, but in my teen years, I, too, tried to relax my curls at home... with similar, devastating results. (I should have re-watched that episode first. I had it on VHS somewhere, I'm sure.)
The Best Friends Will Want You To Succeed
Now, my single biggest irritation that I have with the whole show is that Topanga
gets accepted to Yale, and yet declines her admission to stay with her boyfriend who was routinely not interested in his schoolwork. Worse yet, Cory tries to convince her not to go. I get it, they love each other, but it's freaking Yale. They lived in Philly. It's really not that far. You could meet in Westchester in two and a half hours.
However, he does come around and tries to urge her to go to her dream school, but she instead proposes to Cory, and they stay. Sometimes, success isn't always what we think it looks like. (And sometimes, it looks a helluva lot like going to Yale. Come on!)
Please Don't Join A Cult
I don't know how to prevent my children from joining cults other than teaching them to think for themselves, watching this episode, and listening to "The Dream" podcast about the cult of multilevel marketing, and why it would leave them with very little money to spend on Robux.
It's also good to have friends willing to pull you out of the cult before things go all Branch Davidian.
Similarly, Please Don't Join The Mob
Remember when Shawn couldn't afford Christmas presents so he joined the mob? Well, kids, gifts come from the heart, not two to the chest and one to the head.
Pro tip kids: if your boss wants you to deliver a package and make sure there are "no witnesses," your boss might be up to something illegal. This also applies to accounting positions where they ask you to purchase small goods for very large quantities of cash, and then store said goods in small island nations.
In Spite Of All Appearances, Your First Love Might Not Be Your Last
Man, my generation had it rough. Between
Twilight, Harry Potter, and Boy Meets World, we were all groomed to think that we could and should marry our high school sweethearts, and that it's a recipe for a lifetime of happiness. Spoiler alert: this is not typically the case. Also, Harry should have ended up with Hermione. There, I said it. And Shawn and Angela were meant to be. Also, Edward is a creep.
Don't Be Afraid of Being Who You Are
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Late in the final season, we learn that Shawn writes really great poetry. It's something he was ashamed of because he never felt like he was good enough to do something like write poetry, and, again, rampant internalized misogyny. I want my kids to make their art or whatever it is that brings them joy. It doesn't have to be their income, but I don't want them to stop because they don't feel like they have a right to it.
We Are Not Promised Tomorrow
My gosh, I hope that my husband and I live a good long time, and eventually see our grandchildren born and grow, but that's not a given. No one forgets the episode where Shawn's dad dies after suffering a second heart attack, and the best lesson of that episode is to say what you need to say, and love where and when you can.
Your Spouse WILL Use Your Razor At Some Point.
In the last season, as Topanga and Cory are choosing a wedding date, Cory learns that Topanga has used his razor. His reaction? Hilarious.
Everyone should learn this fact from this episode. Your spouse (if you are so fortunate to acquire one) will absolutely steal your razor and use it. I know for a fact that my husband frequently has a brand new blade on his. I use it, and I put it back. I'm really too kind.
Growing Up Means Change, And That's OK
During the Cory and Topanga wedding episode, Shawn struggles with the fact that he will no longer be such an integral part of Cory's life. He has such a hard time with it that he refuses to be in their wedding. After some soul searching, he comes around, realizing that life changes, but often for the better.
I want my kids to know that sometimes change is hard, but it can also be really great if you can just power through it and grow.