Well, after a season of untimely deaths, long-awaited returns, new characters, episodes that changed the complexion of the show, episodes that made me want to claw my eyes out and choke myself simultaneously, and everything in between, we are finally here. Girl Meets World's second season is officially in the books. I'm going to refrain from talking about the season as a whole in this review because I still want to do a performance appraisal with Unknown. That's when I'm going to really let loose and be completely honest about how I feel when it comes to the series. You see, unlike Lucas, Riley, and Maya, I never chose to stop because I never had to keep my GMW feelings inside.
I had to do that. Okay, I'll be blunt: It annoys me in ways I can't understand that the love triangle has yet to be resolved. They really should have spent less time on filler episodes that never went anywhere and tried to wrap this up as soon as possible after "Texas." Even after the cluster-f*** that was "Girl Meets New Year's," I still gave the writers the benefit of the doubt in hopes that they would stop dragging this out and just get to the damn point. But there's honestly no excuse for this. This is what frustrates me about season two and the series as a whole: The things that actually matter and can change the landscape of the show move at a snail's pace. You expect me to believe that these absolutely amazing, tight-knit friends never talked about what happened on the rooftop for months? Are the writers really thinking that the fans have that kind of time?
I want action, I want things to happen, I crave for things to be shaken up on this show. It might be scary, but that's the protocol when you do a coming-of-age series like this. I watched an episode of 100 Things to Do Before High School yesterday and I was left wanting more. The episode handled teenage love, crushes, and heartbreak in a way that was charming, funny, and satisfying. I was left wondering why this show made it look so complex and bizarre. All I'm saying is, you had another chance to wrap it up and you blew it. Time is not going to wait for this show to catch up. Season three is sink or swim for GMW, no way around it anymore.
This episode, in all honesty, was pretty enjoyable. I had problems with some of it which I'll get into and those problems prevent me from grading higher, but the parts I liked, I didn't just like, I enjoyed. After everything this show has been throwing at me for weeks on end, it was nice to see it get back into the swing of things. I loved Lucas using flashcards (writing one word down on each card for emphasis and Maya questioning it was golden) both times, I loved Maya and Lucas' scenes with their authority figures, I loved the way they handled Cory becoming the kids' high school teacher, I absolutely loved Lucas and Zay's dialogue, and I loved Lucas finally making a decision. The important thing is neither Riley or Maya influenced his choice, he finally decided to take action and not pursue either one. Even though I would have preferred he pick one, it made sense to reject them both and just move on from it. And nobody here is saying that the love triangle should be buried completely, never to be mentioned ever again. It can come up later when necessary, but for now, it had to be resolved. I was really satisfied when Lucas put us all out of our collective misery and finished it. I even enjoyed some of the classroom scenes, and the entire graduation piece was flawless.
But here's where "Legacy" slips up. And they were so close too. Riley and Maya didn't want Lucas to do something that would negatively affect their friendship, but when he chose neither of them, the very next scene showed them unable to even look at each other and on the verge of having some sort of mental breakdown. Why couldn't the episode have just ended with Lucas choosing to stop? Why did they ruin the goodwill that the scene right before created? By doing this, it means that Riley and Maya both wanted Lucas to choose them and would have been upset no matter what the verdict was. They spend so much time emphasizing friendship every damn episode that it seems a little off-putting to just turn into a romantic comedy. You know, most romantic comedies don't even have real comedy so GMW gets the edge there. This could have been their chance to resolve it in a way that made sense, but instead they take one step forward and two steps back in the same episode. Once again, we are left with uncertainty but it seems gratuitous and a little self-indulgent at this point.
Also, the friendship bench. I hate it, I hate every part of it. I hate that this episode brings up what legacy the kids will leave behind. I hate that the last classroom scene had me biting and then they fumbled the ball and turned it over on the potential game-winning drive with this stupid bench. I hate that Zay's name is on it when he is barely on the show and only really has ties to Lucas, so they can't justify his inclusion even though I really like him. And I hate the dramatic feel of the whole thing. Look, I know GMW relishes these moments, but sometimes less is more. When I was in eighth grade, I wasn't thinking about legacy. I was just thinking about this girl I liked who didn't even want me as a friend, going to Europe for spring break, my self-proclaimed "tripolar" math teacher's sense of humor, and wondering which high school I was going to. You're in junior high, what legacy can you possibly leave behind?
Sure I do! Though I don't have much to say on this episode specifically since really it's just a sum of what the series in its entirety has been, both for good and bad.
But first of all I'm glad you're getting into 100 Things too! I still have that specific episode you're referring to on DVD, maybe we'll review it. I'm also glad that you at least thought it captured the tension of graduating middle school. I don't know if it's necessarily a bigger deal now than it was when I graduated middle school - I remember my dad watching the episode of Modern Family where Alex graduated middle school and the high school-like atmosphere made him launch into a rather Trump-esque "this is wrong with America" speech because apparently pomp and circumstance (both the actual song and actual pomp and circumstance) offends old people for some reason - but middle school does tend to be seen as a blip on the radar compared to the monster that is high school. I remember when I graduated middle school I wasn't necessarily in a hurry to go to high school and leave all my friends behind. Many of them were going to the brand-new high school that had just had its ribbon-cutting ceremony within the graduating semester and were going to be the very first graduating class while I was going off to the "ghetto school." Eight grade was certainly more enjoyable while 7th and 6th grades were...eh. Incidentally 100 Things also had an episode like this, but from the other direction - kids transitioning from elementary/primary school into middle school. No more nap times, no more recess (well, middle school still had recess, it had just "evolved" into lunch period) and of course all the academics took a pretty huge leap in difficulty and complexity. In some ways it's even more jarring than the transition from middle school to high school.
But ummm...yeah. The, uh, actual episode in question. Yeahhhhhhh.
So. Stuff happened. Uh, we saw more Harley. We saw more Mr. Norton. We saw a bench.
Between Girl Meets World Reviewed and especially after what Mike said, I don't really feel like there's more to contribute here. Especially since to be really honest here I'm not in a hurry to watch the episode again so - thanks for covering for me, Mike!
That actually brings up another thing - if you're wondering why I've been so tardy to actually contribute to reviews lately, sometimes days if not a full week or more after the fact, well this is part of it - specifically, just quite frankly a reluctance to relive those events. For shows that I actually don't regret like Stuck in the Middle it ends up snowballing into them into a general lethargy. Mike's right, this genre of show has really been spinning its wheels lately. Stuck in the Middle is a nice boost to Disney Channel but in the meantime 100 Things' future is in doubt, though I've been told I should expect a Season 2 renewal (by who? By that guy who goes by "DisneyNickAlive" here on this very blog, if he's even still around here).
But I'm...like...uggghghghgghgh. Ugh. I'm so glad Christian and Sean take care of GMW on a per episode basis for us. Speaking of which I have to agree with Christian and Sean on this one. Having Cory just blurt out that he's joining the gang in high school ruins the joke. They made that joke in the very first episode, they turned that joke on its head in the second season opener, and now they've gone done and ruined it for season 3.
I guess the only thing I have to say is about leaving a legacy in friggin' junior high school. Like Mike said, normal kids don't think that way. In Middle School, kids' worlds are very small - and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Lately, if not for the past several years or even longer, "small world" has been equated into "self-centered-ness" and outright "selfishness" and not only is that not necessarily accurate, but not necessarily a healthy thing either. Kids today have it drilled into their heads that they need to have a positive impact and make every breathing moment count for the greater good of humankind while in the next breath being told how self-centered are Millennials and the generation coming up (sometimes awkwardly called "Generation Z" because whoever comes up with this crap has truly given up, other times called "well at least those kids aren't Millennials"). This has been giving some kids the impression that they need to do what's pretty much physically impossible and small intimate moments to just share with themselves or with a small group of friend are bad. I'll get into this more with the general review of Season 2, but there's clearly an obsession with Riley to make every moment not just count, but be revolutionary and world-changing. Again, that's physically impossible.
One thing that this did nail down is how anxious kids are when they inevitably break up, or if they somehow manage to make it through to the same high school how they're going to transition together.That's what kids are actually going to be focusing on.
And admittedly a "friendship bench" is at least a realistic thing to leave a physical legacy behind in a middle school. Though, again, Liv and Maddie did it better (and again, more on that later).
Episode Grade: B-. It's got stuff.*
Episode MVP: Eh, can I give it to Sarah just for the hell of it? Was she even in this episode? If not I'll give it to Peyton because whatever Mike said.
- *Stuff! It's a plot!
- uhh honestly that's it.