Let me take you back to July 10th 2015 at approximately 8:45pm ET during the Girl Meets World episode Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels Goes to Washington. Eric Matthews was getting his ass handed to him during a New York senatorial debate (which was moderated by his brother, now I’m Canadian but I’m guessing that’s probably not cool) when this happened:
Yeah that was anticlimactic but you know the story: Tommy, the orphaned boy Eric almost adopted in Boy Meets World rode in on his firetruck and won the debate for Eric (come to think of it Cory being the moderator might’ve been a set up, it appears he knew Tommy was gonna fall out of the sky). Danielle Fishel’s orthodontist then got some free promotion, I cried, you cried, everybody cried.
After I stopped, I realized something: Girl is not without its problems (OK I knew that already) and the addition of the Tommy character could solve many of them. Let’s focus on three shall we?
The Lack of Competent Teachers at John Quincy Adams
I love Cory Matthews and I love Ben Savage like Cory loves Topanga, but making him a teacher was a bad call. I can’t believe a guy who spent seven seasons not knowing anything about his entire life is now teaching. No. A teacher doesn’t write “Current Events” on the board and say “somebody tell me what’s going on” like a confused mobster after a hit gone wrong (let’s also remember Cory is a HISTORY teacher). Maybe Cory will have an arc addressing this but he should be better having had Mr. Feeny as an influence. I’m not surprised Jonathan Turner was the one who hired him; gotta love favouritism in the workplace. Here’s hoping Cory’s hiree Harper Burgess ironically fares better.
Tommy (a.k.a. Thomas Jonathan Murphy) on the other hand was written as erudite right out of the gate and thanks to JB Gaynor’s impressively convincing performance (and maybe those glasses) I bought every minute of it. Writer Mark Blutman’s characterization of Tommy was top notch and could be taken in many different directions, two of which are a Civics teacher at the kid’s school or a Political Science TA at NYU for Josh Matthews. Tommy’s no slouch having smoked out Girl’s very own Watergate (the incumbent New York Senator siphoning off money from schools) and while it’s weird to think of a person my age having a grown-up job, I’d love it if Mr. Murphy stuck around for Season 3. They can bring him in whenever the show wants to believably tackle political topics. This could also easily tie-in to Eric’s shenanigans because you know Tommy & Eric are painting the town red like Scooby Doo and Shaggy once again.
How Do You Solve A Problem Like Topanga? Auggie? Ava? And Those Mind Numbing B-Stories?
One gripe MANY Boy fans have had since pretty much the pilot of Girl is that Topanga Matthews is not Topanga Matthews anymore, she’s… Phyllis Munson from Piscataway, New Jersey.
I think a big reason for this is that the writers have Topanga babysitting her young son Auggie Matthews and his “girlfriend” Ava Morgenstern most of the time. This woman’s supposed to be a lawyer at a big New York City law firm, why is she with the kids in the middle of the day? Auggie (whom I do enjoy immensely) wasn’t in Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels Goes to Washington and it had some of the best use of Topanga in the series so far. Please get Topanga back to work (PLEASE give her a lawyer set) and bring in Tommy, as he gets his teach on, to develop the same relationship with Auggie that Eric had with him. You don’t need to be blood to be family after all. EVERYONE would drown in a puddle of feels if Tommy gave Auggie a piggy-back ride. I’m treading feels just writing that. GIDDY UP HORSEY. GIDDY UP.
The 90’s Kid Quagmire
Whether Girl likes it or not, its most loyal fan base and viewership is not the demographic Disney wants it to target, it’s Boy fans (their desire for a youth audience is made clear by their tendency to limit shows to four seasons as its demo grows up/gets bored). On average half a million of Girl’s two million-ish viewers an episode are aged 18-49. Unlike Boy which, according to paragraph twelve of this Rider Strong interview, wrote out the then twenty-something teachers Jonathan Turner and Eli Williams because they added nothing to a show aimed at kids, its daughter show has the unique challenge of needing to indulge both kids and adults in equal measure to thrive.
Thus far the way Girl is trying to do that is by bringing in Boy characters and referencing the show, but where it’s failing is by neglecting to write stories that all adults will relate to and having characters that all of them will relate to. The kids are in middle school and Cory and Topanga are thirty-something parents while Shawn’s a thirty-something pretending to be a parent. Eric’s only pretending to be a thirty-something so maybe that counts but there are mountains of twenty-something Boy fans drinking boxed wine and watching its reruns that Girl is completely ignoring.
I’m one of those fans (hey, bag-in-box wine here in Ontario is like $35.00 for four lovely litres *one gallon*) and thus far the only character’s story I’ve come close to relating to is…Josh? But he’s a new character really and doesn’t deliver the double-rainbow of being a character I can relate to, AND one I have a connection to because of Boy (being an infant aged to a toddler on the show doesn’t count). Tommy slides down that double rainbow; he’s my age, he was a part of my favourite Eric arc of all of Boy in season six and his presence hearkens back to a time before Eric completely lost the plot in season seven. To that point, having Tommy around Eric will IMMEDIATELY humanize Eric and prevent the writers from going full season seven with him.
Tommy could provide the much needed mid-millennial presence Girl Meets World is lacking, free up Topanga for stories not involving Auggie, give the kids a teacher who seems like he knows his stuff and offer an interesting relationship between Tommy and Josh (Tommy was around in Boy when baby Josh was in the hospital).
I’d like for Girl Meets World to adopt Tommy please?
This guest blog was written by Gemma, one of our loyal podcast listeners. While we don’t necessarily agree with all of her points, we think it’s important to share a variety of perspectives. If you’d like to write a guest blog for the site send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll look over what you have. Thanks Gemma!
To check out our audio interview with JB Gaynor (Tommy) click here
All media used in accordance with Section 29.1 of the Fair Dealing provision of The Copyright Act.
“Can I Help To Cheer You?.” Writ. Barry Safchik. Boy Meets World. ABC. 12 Mar. 1999. Television
“Santa’s Little Helpers.” Writ. Lara Runnels & Patti Carr. Boy Meets World. ABC. 11 Dec. 1998. Television
“Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels Goes to Washington.” Writ. Mark Blutman. Girl Meets World. Disney Channel. 10 July. 2015. Television
“Resurrection.” Writ. Erica Montolfo. Boy Meets World. ABC. 19 Feb. 1999. Television