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Girl Meets World - Girl Meets the Bay Window - Review

20 Feb 2016

A few weeks away from our season 2 finale, Girl Meets World is finally back to its original airing order—meaning mainly, unfortunately, that it’s back to consciously avoiding the love triangle it created, rather than just unintentionally ignoring it. Because for better and for worse, “Girl Meets the Bay Window” instead focuses on the friendship Maya and Riley have developed over the years, as Riley surprises Maya with her desire to remodel their favorite spot to suit their changing tastes. Maya, understandably upset, tries to argue for their childhood, kicking off flashbacks to the girls’ budding friendship when they were Auggie’s age, and the difficult circumstances that bound them then.

As a symbol for their bond, it’s an effective decision. The bay window is a staple of the show just as much as it is for the girls. It’s seen infinite hear-to-hearts, been imbued with magic both literal and metaphorical. Using it to reflect the current state of things in their lives—Riley, barging in on the sanctity of it and insisting that if change is coming she will change it; Maya, unwilling to do anything to harm the relationship and still perfectly content to stick with the old order—is a welcome bit of writing trickery. For all Riley is upset over the current triangle drama, it’s of her own making. For all that Maya seems terrified of moving forward with Lucas, she’s being pushed into it before she’s ready. Honestly, even for all that Lucas seems impossibly passive, he’s caught in the middle of a much bigger and messier problem that he never asked for. He came into a bay window that he liked just fine; he can see the need for change generally, but that doesn’t mean he gets a say in something that’s clearly not about him.

It’s just too bad that the show isn’t interested in engineering a story to execute this. “Meets the Bay Window” is an episode indulging in the show’s worst tendencies, one location and one gimmick stretching desperately to fill thirty minutes as the show explores the concept of change. A story about Maya and Riley’s fears about high school is great. Thirty minutes of the same conversation about how change is scary but inevitable, less so. A flashback to when the girls met is fine—repeated and insistent flashbacks to two incredibly stilted child actors delivering incredibly on the nose dialogue to convey tonight’s lesson, including musical number, not as much. I’m sympathetic to the possible production concerns that might lead some these pacing issues. They hired these kids and had to deal with them, they were absolutely going to use them. Barring the kids being funny the best you can do is have them be cute, and putting on a terrible musical is, at least, that.

But why do we have to start from the get understanding what Maya’s concerns over the bay window are about? Why are we left grasping to understand how on earth the room is getting ripped apart, and without apparently Cory and Topanga’s knowledge? Is Riley even allowed to remodel? Do they own this apartment? It’s certainly true that the metaphor is obvious, but again—that is why it works. We’re in on the joke, and so the girls, too caught up in the mess, don’t have to immediately be. Owning that from the beginning, rather than combat the heavy-handed nature, only serves to tie some anvils onto it as well, dragging the episode from the start.

It never truly recovers either. There are moments of brightness. The audience didn’t seem to appreciate the joke about Lucas erupting from the womb as the bizarre Adonis figure he is now but speaking as a baffled adult viewer, I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed harder watching this show. And it’s a testament both to the girl’s written relationship and acting one that even at the episode’s most hamfisted, it’s easy to be touched watching Blancard and Carpenter act. Whatever Blanchard’s comedy weaknesses, she’s a decent dramatic actress—even if unsurprisingly, Carpenter remains the show’s shining talent, two steps from falling apart at the sight of her younger self in a way that hurts to watch. It’s a more interesting episode than the last few as well—

But then, the last few are really the problem. There’s an argument for a slower mood piece before the season comes to a close, in a season that’s otherwise running on track. I’m not sure it would save the episode entirely, but I could see how coming off an intense moment like “Meets the New Year” it could feel like a breather. But after a series of increasingly dire, time-shifted half-hours, “Meets the Bay Window” just feels like a different kind of wallowing, from a show that seems destined to not resolve a thing come March. Lucas might finally get a word in and the gang might decide that their friendship is more important, but just as Riley and Maya admit in this episode, change is coming no matter what. A temporary agreement to ignore it now doesn’t solve much, when the feelings are this strong and the friendship this close.

High school might be a better ground for it, of course. The stakes are higher; the emotional complexity, greater. Change, as scary at it is, generally is for the best. Too bad this doesn’t make the frustration over both an illusion.

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.