Now, having drawn all these parallels in my head between Boy Meets World and New Girl, I arrived at a thought I don’t expect many to agree with, that New Girl is, in my eyes, the spiritual successor to Boy Meets World. When I proposed this argument to friends who shared my interest in both shows, I was met, unsurprisingly, with disdain. One friend’s initial response was short and to-the-point: “No.” Perhaps I was too rash in comparing the two, I thought to myself. Maybe my friend was right when she said they’re only similar in that they’re both sitcoms.
The more I thought about it, however, the surer I became that the two are not as disparate as you might be led to believe. I don’t mean to contend that the two of them are one in the same; rather, I intend to express that the two are, at worst, distant cousins and that New Girl seems more poised to take up the mantle left behind by Boy Meets World than the show’s own spin-off, Girl Meets World.
Let’s kick things off by taking a deeper look at the show’s characters. The two shows aren’t interchangeable in that sense, which is to say it’s not as easy as me claiming Cory is to Shawn as Nick is to Schmidt, but I do see a lot of the Boy Meets World cast in the characters on New Girl. Jess, for instance, reminds me of both Cory and Topanga. Like Cory, she means well, and goes out of her way to try and teach others, but it’s her that most needs to learn. Like Topanga, she was initially the resident weirdo, yet has since matured and, shall we say, normalized by leaps and bounds.
Next, Nick and Schmidt’s friendship, particularly in the college-age flashbacks, hearkens back to Cory and Shawn’s. While they couldn’t be considered stand-ins for their predecessors, they likewise share qualities with them. When they first met, Schmidt was the Cory of their duo, a lovable, kind-hearted doof. Yet once he grew up, and in, in terms of his weight, he skewed closer to Shawn, acquiring the looks, inability to commit, and the slightly callous attitude. Nick, conversely, started on that somewhat uncaring end of the spectrum, befriending Schmidt mostly for his own entertainment, and grew up to the heart and soul of his group of friends, much like Cory. Neither embodies either Cory or Shawn entirely, though; at best, they’re each a mixture of the two, which gives the writers the freedom to take their characters more or less wherever they want.
That leaves Winston and Cece, who I liken to Eric and Angela respectively. Winston is currently trending towards what Eric went on to become in the later seasons, which is to say he starts out relatively normal, enough to snag himself a job as a radio host, much like how Eric once had a brief stint as a meteorologist, and soon devolves into arguably the zaniest of them all. The evolution to Plays With Squirrels territory has only just begun, but it’s easy to draw parallels between, say, his tendency to take pranks too far and Eric’s quest for vengeance upon Topanga, culminating with him disguising himself as a couch.
Now, to clarify, I don’t mean to be critical of Boy Meets World for Eric’s transformation, seeing as I appreciate characters such as Eric Matthews or Andy Dwyer, from Parks and Recreation, who are wonderfully dim-witted and prone to flights of fancy. If Winston continues to go down the same path as Eric, I look forward to seeing what he ends up playing with, if not squirrels. If nothing else, I’d appreciate him being given more to do, given how shortchanged he’s been story wise compared to the rest of the main cast.
Moving onto Cece, her complicated relationship with Schmidt shares a lot with Shawn and Angela’s, most notably the wedge Shawn and Schmidt’s struggles with commitment drives between them. It’s clear, even now with her about to get married, that Cece still has, at worst, residual feelings for Schmidt, just as you could always sense the same thing with regards to Shawn and Angela, the two of them never really letting go of one another. On top of that, I can’t ignore that both couplings are interracial, and that the parents of both Angela and Cece don’t approve. To that, you’re probably thinking to yourself that it’s nothing new, an interracial couple being met with disapproval, especially from their families. But keep in mind that I’m not saying it is anything new. All I mean to do is draw attention to another parallel between them.
Continue reading on the next page…