Girl Meets Nostalgia: Maya and Shawn

Since like, most of Girl Meets Nostalgia has been boiling down to this, because I mean, really, I figured we should just get right into it.

It’s career day at John Quincy Adams Middle School, and Topanga comes and talks about lawyering, but doesn’t get to really because guys! Minkus! Minkus is Farkle’s dad, which should be a big surprising reveal but isn’t because of internet. I’m always happy to see him, because One Tree Hill. Anyway, Topanga and Minkus start competing through Farkle and Riley and it’s great. I love that they’re still counting A’s. I wonder if next year, Farkle will go to the other side of the school with his father and Mr. Turner…Anyway, career day gets derailed when Maya’s mom doesn’t show up. Oh, also, in art class, the teacher tells Maya that she should start displaying her stuff and Maya resists.

The next day, Maya’s mom, Katy does come, and it turns out she’s a diner waitress and aspiring actress. Maya is embarrassed but not devastated and she and Riley have a conversation about how Maya doesn’t expect much from her mom anymore. The slow reveal of Maya’s family life has been interesting but I’m kind of over it at this point. When Katy doesn’t show at Maya’s art show, but the Matthews do. Riley storms over to the diner and tells Katy that she’s letting down her daughter. Katy shrugs it off and gives Riley a sandwich to bring to her friend.

A couple things. That is a super dark direction for a show like this to take. I’m not terribly surprised because did you watch Boy Meets World? There was an episode where the entire cast died because Shawn was mad that Corey and Topanga broke up. Yes, it was a dream and Eric made out with Jennifer Love Hewitt for no reason except it was the 90s. Obviously, Shawn’s character went down some really dark roads, and I’m interested in seeing if they go in that direction with Maya.

But career day, another season 2 or 3 episode worth looking into. The career day episode is one of those one that when I think about it I realize “wait, that was all the same episode?” This was where we first met Chet Hunter and discovered how he was a charming nogoodnick. We learned that Corey was embarrassed by the fact that Alan was a grocer. It was where we met Topanga’s first dad, a character I’m pretty sure was played by a different actor every time we saw him, and where we learned that he calls her “Tippy” which is the greatest nick name in the history of nicknames.

The similarities between Maya and Shawn are impossible not to see, they have all of the same surface characteristics. They both come from lower middle class single parent households. They’re both underachievers and they’re both into the arts. They also both idolize the Matthews family and frankly, who wouldn’t?

But this episode again, revealed a difference. Maya isn’t anywhere near as vulnerable as Shawn. When she shrugs off her mother’s neglect it doesn’t come off as a front, the way that Shawn did. She at least on some level really is resigned to the fact that her mom is this person, and this is their relationship. Katy is also resigned to it. Shawn and Chet weren’t like that. They tried their absolute hardest to put their family back together and simply could not. They talked about their feelings and cried and fought. That isn’t who Maya is, and it’s very, very interesting.

So it’s time to stop calling Maya “Girl Shawn,” she isn’t. She’s starting to become her own character and I love it. Also, I really can’t stress enough how much I love that these girls are complicated, funny, interesting and appropriately young.

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