Why we need another Boy Meets World

Maitland Ward, who played Rachel on Boy Meets World, says the positive environment on set influenced the show's impact on its audience.

Maitland Ward, who played Rachel on Boy Meets World, says the positive environment on set influenced the show’s impact on its audience.

Hollywood has a major impact on our lives. How many of us want to live like the Kardashians? Or get our favorite celebrity’s tweets sent to our phone? And everyone has something to say about Miley Cyrus’ most recent scandal or Justin Bieber’s arrest.

Whether it is TV, Internet, music, or celebrities, you would think that Hollywood would use its influence to better society and spread a positive message.

But not all media is spreading a positive message, and the ripple effect has all-too-often wrecked our morals and values like a wrecking ball.

Luckily, it’s not all negative. Some people in Hollywood have used their talents to spread a good message. One great example: The ‘90s-era television show Boy Meets World. Though it’s been off the air for years, the show still has a great impact on the people who grew up with it. And in the midst of media world dominated by foam fingers and wrecking balls, a new version of the show – Girl Meets World – will be positively influencing the younger generation.

“We learned a lot about friendships on the show and off, and we had great relationships off the show as well,” said Maitland Ward, who played Rachel on Boy Meets World. “I think the messages from the show are seen in that. “

Positivity begins behind the scenes

The positive influence starts with the positive atmosphere on set. If the directors and producers create a comfortable and safe place for the actors, the messages of the show will be more powerful through the acting. Maitland told LSY! in a recent interview that Boy Meets World was the most family-oriented and tight-knit cast that she’s ever been a part of.

“This was a good, calm, and stable environment, and that is vary rare,” she said. “We were very fortunate to have that.”

She says that this was all possible because of the show’s creator and executive producer, Michael Jacobs, who was like a father figure for Maitland and the other actors.

Maitland said that Jacobs was unlike other producers because he was conscious of the performers as people – not just actors delivering lines – and that he genuinely cared about everyone who worked with the show. He protected the actors, and that’s part of the reason why these child stars did not grow up to get trapped in the horrors of Hollywood. The entire cast is still on track with their lives: Maitland has been keeping busy since we last saw her as Rachel on Boy Meets World. After the show ended, she returned to school to study theater. Since then she appeared in the movie White Chicks as Brittany Wilson, as well as guest roles on several other TV series.

The other cast members are all still working actors. Ben Savage (Corey Matthews) is currently working on the upcoming revival show, Girl Meets World, along with Danielle Fishel (Topanga). Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter) is currently working on his upcoming movie Too Late, which will be released along with his rumored appearance in Girl Meets World in 2014.

Real people, real issues

Much like the actors were treated as people, the characters were portrayed as real people who have real problems they face as they grow up.

Each episode of Boy Meets World, which ran from 1993 to 2000, had a different life lesson that the characters confronted, sometimes learning the hard way. Because the characters were so real to the audience, fans learned with the characters.

The lessons on the show were timeless, and in even in individual episodes and reruns the same lessons of friendship, family, and love are still clear.

In the first season, for example, there’s an episode where Cory is forced to partner with Topanga (before they were friends) for a school project. He’s embarrassed by his appearance, but her group of friends still accepts him. The lesson: True friends won’t judge you based on your looks.

“It was never preachy and never talked down to the audience,” Maitland said. “The whole family relationship is a really special thing to have, just this bond with Corey’s family. It was just such as stable environment, I just think that lasts with me.”

Maitland revealed that much of the actors’ personalities and mannerisms were included in their characters, which made the situations more real to them.

“The writers would write for you,” she said. “They knew what kinds of jokes you’d deliver well, how you would say lines. It happened consciously and subconsciously. After you get to know your character, you add yourself into them.”

Maitland saw many similarities between herself and her character, Rachel, who is very smart and goofy but also tough and sassy.

“I think I’m a lot like Rachel, especially back then,” she said. “I was kind of goofy like her, but I was a bookworm, too. I liked to study. She was very smart, which I liked.”

Big expectations when ‘Girl’ meets the world

To this day, over 10 years since the show ended, people still approach Maitland to talk about the Boy Meets World.

People always want to tell me how much the show meant to them, which is really special, she said. “And it’s gotten more so over the years.”

Which means there are high standards and expectations for the follow up show, Girl Meets World, which will debut this year on Disney Channel.

I asked Maitland if she could share anything about the upcoming show, but she couldn’t reveal much. However, she did tell us that Girl Meets World will have the same life lessons and moral values. It is comforting to know that Michael Jacobs is returning as the executive producer, which means that the show will be the same quality as Boy Meets World, but it will be relevant to the world we live in today.

When asked about the members of the old cast returning to their roles in the new show, Maitland didn’t get into specifics. We know that Ben Savage will be returning as Corey and Danielle Fishel as Topanga, but Maitland said that there might be some guest appearances from some old favorite characters.

“I cannot confirm anything, but (the producer) said he’d like to incorporate the old cast as much as possible,” Maitland said. “I don’t have any word on any specifics yet, and I can’t really talk about it, but it will definitely have the same moral, quality values the other show did.”

Boy Meets World was an excellent example of this positivity in Hollywood, and we can only hope that Girl Meets World will do the same.

We need it.

Lizze Lepertine, LSY! reporter, Niagara University

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