Keep on meetin’…
Warning: Full spoilers from Girl Meets World: Season 2 to follow.
Much like its predecessor, Girl Meets World did a lot of growing up between Seasons 1 and 2 and took bigger risks with its storylines, while examining more serious subject matter. At the same time, this season stuck to the core playfulness of both the previous season and previous series, and also developed the characters in unique and pivotal ways. Admittedly, some storylines worked better than others, but Season 2 nevertheless broke new ground.
For one thing, this season seemed to cut back on more of the “Disney Channely” moments — that is, cheesy and over-the-top material specifically geared towards children. Not to say there was none of that this year. All of Auggie’s storylines and that godawful tater tot puppet spring to mind. It didn’t help that some episodes aired out of order and felt jarringly out of place — e.g., “Girl Meets Commonism” and “Girl Meets Fish” from Season 1.
In their place, though, we got something arguably worse: a dragged-out love triangle between Riley, Maya and Lucas, which, initially, I was on board with. Once Carpenter and Meyer showed they had more chemistry than Blanchard and Meyer in Season 1, it only made sense that the writers would want to course-correct the characters’ romantic trajectory in Season 2. They even introduced all-around good guy Charlie Gardner as a way of phasing Riley out of her thing with Lucas.
Unfortunately, Season 2‘s big Texas arc messed up that transition by putting a spotlight on the love triangle. “Texas: Part 3” could have easily settled the issue then and there, but instead it began a long and insufferable “will they, won’t they” that lasted through New Year’s and into the season finale — and, alas, it will continue into Season 3 as well.
Look, the fact that there is a love triangle isn’t the problem; it’s how poorly it was handled throughout the year. Over the course of the season, all three characters came off as melodramatic, indecisive and, worst of all, desperate for attention. Really, I just felt bad for Farkle — horn-blower though he was — and newcomer Zay, who had to witness this three-ring circus from the sidelines. Heck, not even Lucas had much say in what went on between Riley and Maya. In retrospect, it was all just noise that didn’t need to happen.
Still, there were plenty of storylines that weren’t romance-centric, enough that Season 2 was never outright unwatchable. Farkle, for instance, really came into his own this year with episodes like “Girl Meets I Am Farkle” and “Girl Meets Money,” which progressed his character in realistic and relatable ways. And when Riley, Maya and Lucas weren’t obsessing over who liked who, they too had standout storylines in “Girl Meets Yearbook,” “The Forgiveness Project” and “The Secret Life,” respectively.
Season 2 also featured some great Boy Meets World tie-ins, like “Mr. Squirrels Goes to Washington” (the Eric/Tommy episode), “Hurricane” (the Angela episode), “Semi-Formal” (the Eric/Jack episode) and “Pluto” (the Feeny episode). Granted, there were fewer of these callbacks than last year, but ultimately I think that was for the best. Season 2 was about developing the five main kids, and for better or for worse that was the only route that made sense, as the next generation continued to find their way.
Honestly, this season was at its best when it focused on the kids learning more about the world. While the series developed a weird penchant for “after school special” rhetoric (“Girl Meets STEM,” “Girl Meets Belief,” “Girl Meets the Bay Window,” etc.), Season 2’s best storylines often came in the form of issue-based episodes like “Girl Meets New Teacher,” “Girl Meets Creativity” and “Girl Meets Rileytown.” Again, the classroom scenes were nonsensical as ever, but they did tap into the emotional core of the characters, along with the rest of the season.