Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Girl Meets Commonism (Girl Meets World)

Everything makes sense when I get in trouble for it.

I just want so desperately to be proud of you.

You see, son, we're part of a wonderful system. It's the glorious orgy of American capitalism. I get a snazzy new title and a bigger paycheck. Then I give my money to your mother who spends it on speeding tickets.

You know, there is a reason why certain topics are never addressed on kids television. First of all, many writers are incapable of translating messages related to these topics in ways that kids can understand. A lot of it will fly over their heads because they are complex and have several different factors that go into them. It's also done unnaturally most of the time. Whenever these characters address topics like this, it comes off as the network mandating the writers to get serious for 22 minutes. We had that many years ago. They were called very special episodes and after-school specials. They no longer exist for a reason. 

And the execution is usually lazy, pandering to children, broken down to its lowest fragments and then blended into a smoothie. Just because your programming is for kids, does not mean you should talk down to them. You insult your audience and yourself because you legitimately believe in it as quality entertainment. What I'm saying is, kids shows avoid these topics for a reason. Most of them are incapable of handling it well enough for children to get it while still informing them, and unless you're an exception like Arthur, you will fail nine times out of ten.

That's what is so repeatedly frustrating about Girl Meets World. Since its pilot, it has tackled topics such as bullying (twice), forms of government, Asperger's, voter turnout, broken homes, feminism, religion, and now communism. All of this would be fine, but a lot of the time, it feels like GMW does not want to actually take the time to understand topics well enough before delivering the message. And if the writers do understand the topic, they just sanitize it so kids will understand it. But what if the kids don't care? If GMW was witty and socially aware enough to handle these topics, they could do these episodes all they want. But whenever they come up, it's just a way to check off another topic from the clipboard. 

So let me try breaking this down: Maya cheated on Farkle's test, Riley sticks up for Maya, Maya ends up proving that she learned something, Riley, Maya, and Farkle become communists, Cory makes them see that communism sucks, and we end on some kind of 'Murica thing. Sweet, beautiful capitalist 'Murica. The last quote I used was from the American Dad episode "Red October Sky." In it, Stan starts to think that his new communist neighbor that he once devoted his life to finding is now turning Steve into a communist as well. The episode wasn't really about capitalism vs. communism as much as it was about Steve wanting to do something with his father. We root for Stan the whole way because in spite of him being an overly drastic fool at times, he is still the protagonist and we care about him along with the relationship he has with Steve. There was an underlying story amidst the whole capitalism vs. communism aspect. It wasn't just the writers telling us what we already knew. Plus, it was a lot funnier. But that kind of episode isn't something that Girl Meets World can do so..........

Remember when "Girl Meets Farkle's Choice" was shelved for several months last season before airing near the end of it? This is pretty much the same thing, but done ten times worse. "Farkle's Choice" was an entertaining episode from when I first saw it and had a reason to exist, at least. Here, we have Farkle back to his pre-"Yearbook" self, and Riley looks considerably younger as well. It makes the episode more awkward to watch, especially since it feels like nobody does anything outside of the Matthews and Maya. The pacing is so sluggish here, it's hard to get invested in anything.

So the ending is probably one of the worst endings that the show has ever done. I'm talking "Game Night"/"Gravity"-level terrible. We see that Maya has started becoming more like Farkle now that she has adopted his studying methods even though she cheated on one test. Then the characters realize that communism makes everyone the same in every single way and free society works. Then Riley places her hand over her chest while looking at the American flag and Cory says that he's proud of her. For what? For learning the extremely obvious lesson that communism failed for a reason? For believing that communism means that literally every person had no original thoughts without knowing that it involved the elimination of private property? This episode taught me absolutely nothing. This wasn't appealing to the shippers who weren't tempted into learning about communism after watching this. It didn't appeal to people who already knew what communism was, and it didn't even need the communism aspect to be a good episode. Have that tie into the episode's plot like Cory's lessons usually do.

Here's what I propose: Maya proves that she learned more from cheating off of Farkle's paper than studying, and pretty soon other kids (like Zay) start utilizing the same method until the lesson is learned that it's not the best way to go when some kids are unable to retain the information. I feel like the internal struggles the characters faced were never addressed. Riley did all she could to let her friends go free, Maya will still never try in school and Farkle exemplified just how much his character has improved since "Yearbook." Instead of focusing on that, let's just teach kids about communism in as hackneyed and stale a way as possible. Girl Meets World has been on a serious cold streak recently and it almost refuses to stop. I don't know what's going on here, but season two has continued showing similar problems to season one, only now it is more frustrating because you would think they would try to work out the kinks between seasons but the problems are still there. Season three's not looking good, and we haven't even gotten to it yet. 

Episode Grade: D+
Episode MVP: Amir Mitchell-Townes (Zay was a really phenomenal character in this episode and the lone bright spot in an otherwise pedestrian outing. From his opening scene with the sandwiches to him confusing communism with exorcism, he continues to be the go-to comic relief that GMW really needs at this point.)

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-The opening scene really gave me high hopes, along with the scene after that. Riley wanting things to resolve themselves and then throwing the paper airplane into the air was a brilliant fourth wall joke, I almost lost it. 

-There was a subplot in there that I should.......address. Auggie appears to be having a mid-life crisis of some sort and cannot figure out what he wants out of life. He decides to be a lawyer like Topanga and it doesn't work out. By the way, the scenes in Auggie's class are painful to watch in terms of acting. I don't even want to go after these poor kids for just doing their job, but it all comes off as awkward and with pacing as slow as a turtle with a limp. They call each other by first and last name multiple times, including the teacher herself. The teacher does this for some reason even though the name she uses probably isn't the kid's actual name. NOBODY TALKS LIKE THIS.

-I feel like I'm missing a joke or something here, but Riley mentions John Lennon and Topanga states that John Lennon was a Beatle. Then Riley states that Topanga shouldn't call John Lennon a bug. I ask this seriously, how stupid is Riley honestly? How stupid is she? How do you quote a guy who was part of the most well-known band of all-time and then not know what band he is from? I don't care if that was a joke, it just makes Riley look like an idiot. She's funny when she's naive and dim, not when she's dumb. I wouldn't have a problem with that, if Riley didn't directly quote one of Lennon's songs seconds before Topanga mentioned him.

-Speaking of character development, Lucas is back to his classic self. He believes Maya and Farkle should be punished for what they did, gets a 100 on his test, just stands there and sits around not doing much.......he is so uninteresting here. 

-Disney Channel is screwing up the production order badly, I see that now. They really don't seem to understand that these episodes have to be aired in a certain order or else the continuity will be screwed up. This isn't like Family Guy where you can air literally any episode you want because the episodes almost never affect each other. There is an ongoing story involving Riley, Maya, and Lucas that has yet to be solved and has been running since October. These filler episodes are not helping anybody, and it is especially annoying when the filler episodes aren't even engaging or funny. I really hope season two goes out on a high note, I just feel like I'm at my wit's end now.

-Hope everyone had a great weekend and checked out the Grammys last night. Kendrick Lamar, am I right? 


...I haven't actually had a chance to watch this episode yet. Or the Grammys. So I'll have to take your word on Kendrick Lamaar.

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