Monday, December 7, 2015

Girl Meets the New Year (Girl Meets World)

What is it? Blah blah blah Girl Meets World you should know by now.

Right now, I'm really unsure about the future of this blog. As far as I know, both Unknown and Nick have fled the country so until I get some answers about where they went, I guess I'm just going to have to keep this thing from dying on my own. Let's talk about this episode first and foremost because.........I have some things I need to address here.

1. Why is the airing/production schedule for Girl Meets World so messed up? There were 30 episodes produced for season two and this was apparently the second-to-last one made. Keep in mind that this is a New Year's Eve episode and the next one is at their junior high graduation. What the hell is going on here?!?! I feel like the timeline on this show fluctuates so much these days, they should make a meta-joke about the whole thing. In this case, I really think the writers and producers need to get it together in terms of coming up with a production schedule that makes sense instead of having Disney Channel trying to interpret the whole thing. 

2. I noticed that of all the main characters on this show, Farkle annoys me the least. I was getting worried that the writers were going to start leaving him on the street for roadkill in the early goings, but he has played a major role in the second season as it has progressed. You know why he is the least annoying? BECAUSE HE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LOVE TRIANGLE, IF YOU WANT TO CALL IT THAT. What is this? This is not a love triangle with any sort of development or intrigue or mystery. This is the same BS we saw in Texas, only that time, it was part of a 90-minute movie that was interesting and had everything people expected out of Girl Meets World when it first came onto the scene. This time, no. NO. You have to settle things and you have to settle them now, writers. You can't keep people waiting for something that might never be resolved. I swear, if you guys even think about dragging this out into season three, I'm going to rethink what I said about the Texas episodes. It's really sad because I know the writers can push themselves and give us episodes that shake the core of the show and keep us tuning in  the week after. You want to take a page out of Degrassi's playbook? Go ahead, because with classic Degrassi, they never slacked off and made sure you had something to chew on with the big storylines. This is baby steps writing. I don't want that. I want an ending, I want finality, I want these guys to pull the trigger and do something.

3. We still don't know how Lucas feels about anything. That's really dandy. Seriously, they better take care of that.

4. Well, Charlie's gone for the time being. I can't say I'll miss him because I never really cared about his character. In "Semi-Formal," which was an episode I really wasn't into at all, he was just there. Then in Part 3 of "Texas," they turned him into a creepy stalker trying to be cute and getting upset that everyone saw through him. I really don't know why they did that because that just soured me on him even further. We got more of that with this episode, but at least his last scene with Riley was genuinely emotional and heartfelt. Hey, they wrote Charlie well this time, like an actual human being. Go figure.

5. Farkle made the right decision to spill the beans. I feel like he is the audience surrogate, wanting this whole thing to be over like me. He knew Riley was never going to do it herself and she would let her feelings turn into secret resentment so in order to protect the friendships, he had to do what he personally believed was right. Putting Riley on the spot like that in front of all the kids on her roof on the first day of 2016? Not cool. But I understand his intentions and now that everyone knows about Riley's feelings, we can move on. PLEASE MOVE ON.

6. I like Smackle. She's dope and plays off everyone really well. 

7. This episode was a C for me. As a fan, it was exciting to see Farkle spill the beans just to see what would happen. As a reviewer, I know this is weak storytelling and an absolutely disappointing follow-up to the Texas episodes. The pacing was slow and uninteresting, the build-up was worthless in the end, and we are right back where we started. The season finale better come through because if we have to drag this out any further, I'm going to punch a wall. STOP WITH THE CLIFFHANGERS, WE GET IT. LOVE IS CRAZY. JUST STOP AND PULL THE DAMN TRIGGER ALREADY.

Whenever Unknown or Nick return from their sabbatical, they can add to this because I'm finished. This episode was ridiculous. If you want a good New Year's episode, try "Train of Fools" from Boy Meets World. Remember that show? The one show that would never do what its sequel series is doing right now? I bet Vince McMahon's name is in the writing credits for this episode. Don't believe me, check it again and you'll see it for three straight seconds.

I'm not quite dead or fled the country yet (though the latter is something I'm actually in the process of trying to make happen - the fleeing the country part, not the dead part). Sorry for coming back to this post after so long. Confession time: I haven't actually really seen this episode. Well...I've seen it three times, just not in a focused matter. The first time I was half-paying attention while working on some other stuff, the New Year's Eve airing I watched drunk (hey, New Year's Eve) and the New Year's Day airing I was actually working on the "All the Shows That Left Nickelodeon After iCarly Left" post. I have a vague sense of what's going on, that Smarkle is a thing now, also tween angst. And, uh, I believe that adequately and laconically summarizes the episode. Also, Miss What's Her Face is back for the second time in forever. 

I'm just going to tell you guys, right now. Out of a matter of principle, I actually feel divided about this episode. On the one hand, rarely does an overdose of angst make for great television (Sean from GMWReviewed can tell you about that and House). On the other hand, that shouldn't be an excuse for not visiting these topics. On the other hand (perhaps I should say the gripping hand), it seems like GMW is making the same mistake Austin & Ally (and tween/teen shows in general) do and overplay the drama and overdo the shipping in a straight-line grab for the demo, which tends to go fucking bonkers over shipping with little regard to other aspects of plot, story or narrative construction (coming in 2017: Two Ridiculously Attractive Teens Are Shipped Together, airing in between More Steps by Further Steps and Family Still Matters). 

I'd have to say that seems to be the biggest complaint about the show lately, that doubling-down on what the tween audience cares about. It's not necessarily something the adult audience cares much for. Furthermore, what tweens think is good relationship advice isn't necessarily what adults think is good relationship advice (mainly because tweens have absolute zero experience and wisdom in romance and are vulnerable to all sorts of really shitty advice as long as it makes them think they're going to land that perfect guy or girl by the final bell of sixth grade and all they need to do is patiently wait until legal marriage age, which is what puts their butts in front of that TV). A cynical simplification, yes, but tweens do tend to want to have their cake and eat it too with both a highly romanticized idea of relationships yet a lot of relationship drama at the same time for their entertainment. 

So, uh, I guess that's my evaluation of the episode, given what I've actually seen. I'd rate it a flat C, MVP is, I don't even really know. Put all their names on a dart board and see where the dart lands first. Quite frankly this is such alien territory I very honestly don't even know how to evaluate it. 8th grade was a long time ago, and I've never been a woman and never will be. I don't know what an 8th grade girl thinks or what is realistic in her life experience. There's enough ethos and pathos in other episodes and other shows - Girl Meets Brother, first or second season Jessie, Bella and the Bulldogs, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Justified - that I don't need to actually have been an 8th grade girl or her younger brother to feel what's going on (as opposed to simply knowing). My entire 6th grade romantic experience is admiring this ultra-hot Latina girl from afar, and while she was vaguely aware she had a thing for me, it wasn't mutual. She was just waaaay out of my league. It's my understanding that a lot of middle school relationships are like this and that 7th and 8th grade relationships and younger are pretty rare. Which is why these storylines resonate so much with this demo. It's wish fulfillment. If you're an adult viewer, you've either already have your wishes actually fulfilled in real life (and you're watching with the products of that fulfillment) or you've got psychological problems (which explains why I stick around). Adults watch Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire or Justified and etc. for wish fulfillment - vicariously experiencing Jon Snow shag that redhead wilding girl or Nucky Thompson gun down assholes with machine guns or Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens be a 21st century John Wayne, or Cam Newton nail that touchdown pass. 

What I'm wondering if there's a widening "demo" gap in entertainment and if tween entertainment is retreating in demo age. There's a certain sense to it - when Good Luck Charlie and Jessie were a thing, especially prior to Jessie's third season, it was at least partially reaching for girls and women roughly around Bridgit's and Debby's actual ages. But that demo has been going more for shows that would cause almost the whole country's supply of parents and moral guardians to scream at once if they ever aired on Disney Channel - namely Pretty Little Liars, but also shows on AMC and HBO. Even Bridgit and Debby themselves talk about how much they enjoy PLL, while never once talking about if they actually ever enjoyed their own shows. I suppose this explains the rather subtle shift in Jessie during its third season too, as they gave up trying to go for a very broad audience up to young adult women and just concentrated on the tweens. 

That said, to answer Mike's questions:

1. That's just Disney Channel for you. Some of it is probably practicality (how just things come together for scheduling) but it's kind of a mess even with that in consideration. I suppose I can explain in its own dedicated article.

2.-8. Yeah spot on pretty much.

Anyway, Merry Pearl Harbor Day and Happy New Year.


  1. Nice job, Mike.

    Some good points and I totally agree about Farkle. Was it a jerk move to say Riley's feelings? Yeah. But there's no escaping it anymore. I hope you keep reviewing.

    1. Thank you very much, Shipping Wars. I appreciate the continued support. Maintaining this blog by myself sounds pretty daunting, but I'm going to try and make it work.

      I really hope GMW finishes season two strong. The season premiere was garbage, but after that, the show was full steam ahead with four straight enjoyable episodes and even two gems. Then it maintained a pretty decent pace until "Yearbook" which brought back the fire for a moment, then it started getting pretty underwhelming until the Texas episodes which were well-executed. Now we have this little pickle here. Some pretty bad episodes, some decent ones, and more gems this season than last one. I think GMW has really started settling into itself but it still has some work to do.

    2. I'll try to make sure it's not *completely* alone. Sorry, but also greatly appreciated.


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