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Girl Meets World - Girl Meets Jexica - Review

11 Jun 2016

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After a middling premiere, Girl Meets World genuinely surprises with “Girl Meets Jexica,” an episode that not only sits nicely at the top of GMW episodes but feels genuinely in keeping with the Boy Meets World spirit. Maybe it's not necessarily the high school spirit—it feels too slight for that, too lesson driven over character—but certainly it’s a story that could easily fit alongside anything in the middle school era, told with heart and fun to boot.

The story is simple: Riley, concerned that she will seem boring and silly to her new classmates, constructs an alter-ego to hide behind as she creates her new high school profile, and is stunned to find herself overwhelmingly and suddenly powerful. Afraid of crushing expectations with the real her, Riley keeps up the act, but ultimately, her true friends can’t be fooled. It’s an issue we’ve seen Riley tackle before to some extent—her stint as a Harajuku girl in particular comes to mind—but somehow, that doesn't diminish the effectiveness here. If you play your cards right, a relateable fear executed with humor and honesty is all you need, and generally, “Meets Jexica” excels in this. Its “I am Sparta” reference might not land perfectly and the story may peter out without much, if any, blowback on Riley for the act; but ultimately, each of the kids gets in a good line, in a show that often struggles to find its comedic voice and timing.

Maybe more importantly though is something the show often fails at: In  "Meets Jexica" they’re acting like kids. They’re jabbing at each other, they’re expressing their interests. There’s no maudlin philosophizing, no Feeny-sized speeches—they're just kids being kids talking like kids. Even Cory’s classroom speech, has an energy rarely seen in the show, incorporating the entire class by reminding them of various Youtube memes in a way that feels, for once, like an actual lesson. It might be one only questionably related to the curriculum, but at least it's the sort of loose, thoughtful talk you can imagine taking place on the fringes of a typical high school class. It all combines to keep things fun and bright, in a way that the show hasn’t been since its upswing mid-season two, and hopefully it’s a harbinger of things to come.

“Meets Jexica” also manages to couple its A Plot with a surprisingly fun B Plot—perhaps not shockingly because while Auggie may be the vehicle for it, the true players are Cory and Topanga. For a show that’s a spin off based around the kids of a popular relationship, we don’t often get to see Cory and Topanga merely being together. But as they bicker their way through the parenting question of how to manage young Auggie exploring the wild internet, for once the show feels like a sequel without it having to be entirely about being a sequel. The callbacks are minimal, and the guest appearances are non-existent, but you don't need either and arguably GMW relies on both just a bit too much. What we needs is this: Watching Cory and Topanga be adults with history. This is just their life, years later, more or less the way anyone might have imagined it, and it's wonderful to see it.

If there is a weakness to be found in “Meets Jexica,” it is in the obvious nitpicking land all standalone episodes fall into: The triangle remains unsolved. It’s amusing to see Lucas exasperated over having to constantly balance his affections for the girls, but it does little to cut down on the exasperation I feel having to watch it. Particularly given how, judging from these first few episodes, it seems likely this triangle can’t end without Riley and Lucas at least trying to give it another go. This is a minor note though, one that’s really unfair.

Ultimately, “Meets Jexica” reminds you why the show can be very worth watching—and it’s a reminder that comes just in time.

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.