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There are only a few television shows I can say I actually grew up with and watched as the characters grew from children to young adults.
‘Boy Meets World’ is definitely one of the sitcoms that got me through my own awkward growing pains and squeaky voice and I’m sure I’m not alone in that declaration. Watching Corrie Matthews (played by Ben Savage) go from chatty child to awkward teenager was a balm to my burgeoning neurosis.
It was a simple story about a marginally talented young person growing up in the suburbs of America with the help of his troublesome best friend Shawn, his awesome next door neighbor and teacher Mr. Feeny, and the ever-irritating Topanga.
I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the Disney Channel has been hitting it out of the park with teen-oriented sitcoms for decades. Similar to many TV shows like ‘Boy Meets World’, ‘Even Stevens’ helped to launch the careers of the likes of Shia LaBeouf and shaped the childhoods of many a millennial.
Following a family known as the Stevens, this is the story of two perpetually antagonistic brothers named Ron and Louis. The show is set in Sacramento, a place that is close enough to San Francisco to be interesting but suburban enough for two rambunctious boys to get into safe child-friendly adventures. Ron and Louis’ adventures offer young folks as many beefed up story arcs with broken vases, stolen bikes, and mistaken identities as a Disney show can manage.
I have to say, Louis Stevens (played by Shia LaBeouf) runs away with the show half the time and creates some gut-busting moments of hilarity.
The show ‘Family Matters’ has so much weird history behind it that it is really no surprise that it became one of the most watched shows in America during the mid-90s. ‘Family Matters’ was meant to be a spinoff of the popular show ‘Perfect Strangers’ but it quickly became its own animal.
I watched this show from the beginning and as a young black kid; it was refreshing to see a black upper-middle class family having all sorts of crazy hijinks. There were really fun teen characters and children to keep things fresh and interesting, but the focus of the show was the epic struggle between Carl Winslow and Steve Urkel.
Steve was the irritating, super-nerdy next door neighbor of the Winslows who was prone to destroying things with his clumsiness like a tornado wearing suspenders. Carl Winslow was the overbearing father who suffered the constant aggravation of Steve’s presence until Carl flew into fits of rage – fun times!
Not every neighborhood in sitcoms aimed at teens is a normal one. In the show ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’, our main character lives in what could be your average suburban domicile if not for her hundred-year-old aunts and a talking cat. Sabrina has a heritage connected to the Salem witch trials where some of her other aunts were used for kindling.
When I first saw the series as a young boy the story of a teenage witch was something new. This family-friendly witch story was something novel for a sitcom, but it still had all the trappings of polished teen angst alternating with bizarre bouts of positivity that are essential to young adult television.
The stand of the show has to be the fleabag cat Salem who was once a human warlock whose ambitions for world domination left him a bit transformed.
At its core ‘Boy Meets World’ is a classic sitcom made to fit into the minds of every pre-teen and teen boy like a PlayStation 4. The next shows appeal to different demographics and audiences from ‘Boy Meets World’ through similar tropes.
Aside from the Olsen twins as adorable babies, the show ‘Full House’ is best known for its intro song and the sweeping aerial shots of the most interesting-looking houses in a suburb of San Francisco. I’m pretty sure that the people in that neighborhood learned to tolerate tourists after this show became a hit.
Similar to TV series like ‘Boy Meets World’, ‘Full House’ is a family-focused show that became a phenomenon. The show was led by comedian Bob Saget whose stand-up routine is so raunchy, thinking about it right now makes me want to wash my brain.
Saget plays a father whose wife has just passed away. Consequently, he is forced to enlist his best friend Joey (played by Dave Coulier) and his brother-in-law Jessie (played by John Stamos) to help raise his three daughters.
‘Girl Meets World’ is the continuation of the romance between Topanga and Cory that resulted in the birth of the star of this show Riley. This show exists partially because of the nostalgia factor surrounding the original series and the fact that Disney knows how to capitalize on a money making series similar to ‘Boy Meets World’.
The show finds Topanga as an accomplished lawyer and Corey as a middle school teacher like Mr. Feeny, his hero from the original series. I have to say that it warmed my heart a bit to find out that Corey had gone on to become a teacher.
The star of the show, Riley, is very charming and does pull off the same sort of warmth and teen angst that her father and mother made so popular in the original series.
Sitcoms like ‘Boy Meets World’ are made to create a safe mental space for young people to deal with their anxiety and laugh at someone as young, optimistic, and confused by the world as they are on a given day.
Do you think that being a kid today is harder than it was during the time of Corey Matthews?
Let me know in the comments below.
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