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Girl Meets World - Episode 1.15 - Review: "The Nanniversary"




Now this is an episode I've been waiting for.

After firmly establishing the school world, Girl Meets World finally takes time to chill at home this Thanksgiving weekend, with a storyline just for the Matthews. It’s a cozy half-hour, with plenty of good will to burn, and appropriately the story is simple and sweet. Cory and Topanga have an anniversary, and Riley wants to prove herself through babysitting. They’re simple beats, done the simplest way possible, as Cory and Topanga never make it past the subway station and Auggie is the most well behaved child even when furious with her, but both manage to hit nice emotional places. For once it feels like the show gives us proper understanding of Cory and Topanga’s marriage, and all the little eccentricities that made it special (Cory’s excuse of “we’re weird” as he begs a stick pony from a little girl is priceless and true). And Riley learns an important part of sibling dynamics when she ends up ditching Auggie for a date around the TV with Maya. That is to say: Being an older sister comes with a pretty high pedestal. It’s never something you ask for, but it’s a terrible fall down from it when you forget that fact.

Even Farkle was used surprisingly well, if sparingly (or perhaps, because it was done sparingly). His meta joke about not having a real place in the show is predictable but effective, and tied up nicely with his assistance at the end with the bracelet. Unlike last week, it was just enough weirdness, just at the edge, with proper focus where things count.  In general, actually, this week felt almost like an answer to last week—a reminder of just how much works, after a showcase in just how much there is left to learn.

If there is a failing in “Girl Meets Brother,” it may honestly be the one thing the show can’t fix: Rowan Blanchard. There’s logic in her casting, I'm not condemning it. Her resemblance to her parents, particularly Ben Savage and his mannerisms, is uncanny; and most days, she’s just goofily winsome enough to compensate for her acting weaknesses. But while it may not be obvious, “Girl Meets Brother” is an odd mix of an episode: Ensemble, still, in its plotting, but reliant on Blanchard more than usual in its final stretch to bring all the threads together. She’s the one with the emotional turnover, she’s the one with the conflict, and everyone else (even Maya, who usually helps share the burden) exists solely to help her come to the realization of just what she did wrong.  

Now, maybe it’s lazy writing—some stronger motivation could have sold the change, maybe even by way of a Youtubed scene from the show they just missed. The show gave it to Blanchard to deliver however, and a better performer probably could have managed. Savage, a mugger in his own right, probably could have done it at her age. Carpenter indubitably would have smoothed it over with ease. Blanchard, to say the least, can't. She’s mad, she’s sad, she’s going to fix it—and they all look more or less the same, and all feel thoroughly unconvincing.


It is a good test for Blanchard, letting her try. Hopefully with time, she’ll grow. She is our lead after all, though the show can and already does hide this, relying more heavily on the Maya/Riley dynamic than BMW ever did with Cory and Shawn. Barring a total overhaul though, her failure to meet the standard may sadly limit the show in their ability to tell these kinds of stories for her—however welcome and game the show is otherwise to tell them. 


RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • I do have to wonder whether it's weird for kids to see flashbacks from Boy Meets World, even as I'm not sure if there's a real solution. It's annoying to get it spoon fed, but I'd imagine it's equally annoying to sometimes feel like you're not in on the joke, like with the Harvey stuff.
  • I want more of this space teen drama, which feels like it must exist in some AU version of the CW.
  • I will say I did think Blanchard sold the delinquent 7:07 curfew break well. It's things like that that tell you how strong the Matthews genes are, and make it increasingly plausible Blanchard was created in a lab somewhere for the purposes of this show.
  • But who cares because SHAWN IS COMING. I'll admit to some trepidation, because Shawn's life is rarely very happy, but what do you all think? Yay, nay, oh no why? 

About the Author - Sarah Batista-Pereira
An aspiring screenwriter and current nitpicker, Sarah likes long walks not on the beach, character-driven storytelling, drama-comedy balancing acts, Oxford commas, and not doing biographies. She is the current reviewer for Girl Meets World.

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