Valentine’s Day has come and go on and I have decided to minimize the hatorade towards all those happy couples out there. So if you are the reader with a relationship, hope it goes well for you. And if you are not then I hope you are doing well being single until you actively choose not to be. Good luck with that. Still, it’s hard to have the day go by and not think about portrayals of love in our favorites works of literature, especially serialized ones. You see, a lot of the drama and conflict in any given tv show, webcomic, comic book, novel, etc, comes with the development and destruction of relationships. With a limited number of characters (unless you want to go the War and Peace route),the author ends up having to go the will they or won’t they scenario (something discussed on an early post). Other times you get the one couple that is clearly destined to be happy and together but crazy things happen that ruin it. Screw Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Ross and Rachel, Brangelina or any of these other couples; if you want true love look no further than Cory and Topanga.
I’ve been wanting to talk about Boy Meets World for a while now but the context of love always seems to overpower the analysis of it, far more than the inconsistencies from Season 1 to the other parts and disappearing characters. First off, if you watch this show with the even slightest hint of self doubt as to your own happiness without a relationship, be ready to get depressed fast, especially with any show from Season 3 onwards. Cory and Topanga were designed to be together for a while and they do regular dating but once they hit ninth grade or so, the relationship retcons start showing up. From here on out, they are depicted as being soul mates for each other, all of the other characters know it and yet will still have doubts as to whether this is the right thing for them. The show stops being about kids learning about life and the world and becomes one about a couple that somehow can’t be together for enough episodes to keep the main cast happy. If someone ever asks you for an example of what love really is, don’t pull one of those stupid one panel positive message sorry excuse for a comic, show them both parts of “A Long Walk to Pittsburgh”. If you don’t know the episode find it on your own but in the meantime you will have to suffice with my summary of it.
Topanga is sad because her parents are moving to Pittsburgh, a few hours from the main setting of Philadelphia (I know that for a fact after my running adventure from last year). She is a realist and knows that their relationship as it is cannot survive the distance but they can at least go into long distance mode. Cory, being ever the blind optimist, cannot accept a future in which things won’t get magically fixed soon and that nothing will change because their love is too strong. After a series of hilariously meta conversations with cooler than everyone best friend Shawn, he becomes more convinced that she will not leave, even to the point of refusing to give her a proper goodbye. The first part ends with her leaving and Cory suddenly having to cope with a harsh reality that everyone saw coming except him. I swear if you don’t shed a tear at this moment then you have no soul. Part two fast forwards a little while with Shawn trying to get Cory to date other girls but him still focusing on Topanga. He is heartbroken, and any attempt at a reasonable conversation from friends and family to get him to accept his new reality are met with a stubborn audacity in the power of love. And on a rainy night a knock at the door reveals that he was right all along as a rain soaked Topanga comes back to him. SHe ran away from home to be back with the one that she loved and if you didn’t cheer at that moment; again, what is wrong with your soul? She inevitably ends up living with a previously unknown aunt and things go back together. Still, there are a bunch of moments along the way when the relationship is dissolved all of them involving Topanga thinking too much which somehow feels weird in hindsight. Cory quasi cheats on her with Lindsey from the ski lounge (they kissed once after some long heartfelt conversations) that made Topanga not trust him again for a long time. Then there was the whole point later on with Topanga’s parents getting divorced (which was extra odd because they kept changing the actor for the dad) and she not wanting to through that heartbreak years from now, thus calling off the relationship right then and there.
In the end, they actually got married and everything turned out great. What made it interesting from a serial perspective is that the show was able to go on for another season or so with them being happily married. They had other relationship woes like Jack and Rachel or Shawn and Angela but the core character dynamic was still Cory and Topanga. They went through a lot and demonstrate better than any other fictional couple I have ever seen in all of my academic research and just regular fan viewing just how powerful love can be. Except for Ma’ti, he weaponized love through a magic ring given to him by the spirit of the Earth herself but that’s a story for another post.
Flash forward more than a decade from the finale and I alongside many other fans are eagerly awaiting a new spinoff/sequel ready to hit the airwaves soon. “Girl Meets World” will have Cory and Topanga return (with the original actors to boot) this time with their 10/11 year old daughter and her own adventures. The twist here is that Cory is going to be her daughter’s teacher (so that’s what he was studying in Pennbrook, please be an English teacher). It seems to be emulating season 1 of the original series (which isn’t a bad thing) but they have already said in interviews that they want it to have a similar spirit but with original stories. After all, we don’t want a repeat of Saved by the Bell: The New Class that had the same plots with some tweaks from the original episodes. Dark times, man.