Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Melissa Meets Boy: A character study

Last week we took a look at Boy Meets World in a general sense, with a quick and dirty review of all the seasons.  Today, I’m going to look at the three main characters of the show, Cory Matthews, Shawn Hunter and Topanga Lawrence.

To start:  Cory Matthews

The titular Boy who met the world, the show revolved fully around him for the first season and a half.  In these first few episode, Cory is a good kid, only really getting into trouble if someone goads him into it.  This sticks with him through the show’s run, though he does get into a bit more trouble as the series progresses. 
Cory is really our everyman, the viewers link into the world the writers have created.  He does a fantastic job of that, but on the downside, it leaves him a titch bland.  I remember one gag, where he was complaining to Shawn how he was mediocre, and he stands next to a poster of celery in his room.  Yes, apparently those exist.  

Now, not to disparage on accountants by any means, seeing as I am one, but that’s what Cory dreams of becoming.  In the first season, he had more typical ‘I wanna be a baseball player!’ aspirations, but when the show started focusing more on his family, he got more and more bland.

This isn’t to say that I don’t adore Cory.  He was a real character, and none of the stuff he did or said seemed like it was coming out of left field.  The reason I think that is, though, is because it was so easy to replace him with me, in my head.   

That is not to say that those that he surrounded himself with were boring, though…

Shawn Hunter, Cory’s best friend, grew up in a trailer park, the exact opposite of Cory in just about every way.  He was scrappy, he was resourceful, he was incredibly cute, the girls wanted him, the boys wanted to be him…unless he was Veronica, then it was the other way around.  Shawn was a sensitive soul, he wrote poetry in a hidden journal, about all the pain in his life.

Just about everyone he met wanted to ‘fix’ him, except Cory, and that I think is why they were such good friends.  Mr. Feeney tried to mold him into a better student, Mr. Turner tried to give him a family, and then failed to follow through, everyone wanted Shawn to be different, except Cory.

What Shawn didn’t realize, though, was that he was becoming a better person through Cory, as Cory led by example.

When Shawn was dating Angela, he asked Cory for advice, and they ended up at a fancy old people restaurant.  I don’t think I can do it justice, so I found it just for you!

I get misty every time I watch that scene…you can really tell Shawn is happy, for maybe the first time in a long time.

Of course, being from the wrong side of the tracks, Shawn seemed to carry much of the drama on his skinny little shoulders.

From a crime ring led by a brother in the trailer park(one we never heard from again), to a girlfriend with abusive parents, to underage drinking, Shawn saw, or did, it all.  And when he came through on the other end, relatively unscathed, you, as the viewer just wanted to give him a hug.

And when he tousled his hair, you wanted to do much more…

Speaking of hair:

Topanga Lawrence, girlfriend/wife of Cory, started out as a crazy hippie.  She wore peasant dresses, and her loooong hair was crimped and was allowed to flow down to her hips.  She asked spirits to help her solve math problems, she sang weird songs and drew lipstick hearts on her face, she gave Cory his first kiss when he was feeling exceptionally weird and out of place.

As the seasons went on, she toned that down, and eventually cut off her hair completely.  After she did that, she transitioned into a ‘cooler’ person, one who mostly wore normal clothes, though her dad was still Peter Tork, until season six, when he made a sudden body swap to Michael McKean for one episode.

She also became the ‘smart one’ graduating valedictorian, almost going to Yale, but deciding to go to Pennbrook with Cory instead.  Cory and Topanga were a good couple, a notch to the other’s groove, and even though the writers contrived to keep them apart as best they could, of course, they ended up together in the end.

Next Week: Secondary characters, or, Mr. Squirrels and company     

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