GMW: 106, “Girl Meets Popular”; August 8, 2014

First off, in case you missed it, Girl Meets World officially got picked up for a second season! As I said in my News post, I’m not surprised, because the show’s been pulling in decent ratings, and also Disney likes its shows to have at least 65 episodes because that makes syndicating reruns easier.

Second, looks like this is yet ANOTHER episode where Riley learns to be herself. Maybe we’ll actually learn who she actually is this time, because so far we’ve still yet to learn ANYTHING about her other than that she likes Lucas and doesn’t know what “chaperone” means. And did I mention that she likes Lucas? Because she does.

And you know, despite how bland Lucas is so far, we actually know way more about him than we do Riley. So that’s weird.

Also one of the episode summaries for a later episodes reveals that there’s a girl named Smackle who has a crush on Farkle.

I just… uggh.

Well here I am, after taking an hour long break from that revelation.

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Some 23 year old hipster is putting stuff in people’s lockers. Riley knows this means that the invitations for the 7th grade parties are coming out, so now they can be party girls and she needs a party-girl walk, see above screencap.

Riley’s excited because there will be boys at these parties, and not just boys, “opposite sex boys”, and then somehow this spirals into her believing she’ll spend her whole life shopping with her spinster aunt something-or-other while Maya marries the 23 year old hipster – who, seriously, does not look like he should be in middle school, and ESPECIALLY should not be inviting 7th grade girls to a party.

She congratulates Maya on being popular and wishes her farewell. But then whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat 23 year old hipster gives an invitation to Riley but not to Maya!

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…It’s not going to turn out that Riley just got invited to a Geek Party with a bunch of other losers to act as decoys while the person hosting the party sneaks off to make out with her boyfriend, is it, and THAT’S why Shawn – I mean, Maya – didn’t get invited?

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Riley interrupts class to tell Cory she got invited to a party. Cory says he didn’t get invited to many of those. But I mean unless you’re hanging out with the characters on Degrassi I don’t think you’re missing much by not going to a 7th grade party.

Cory doesn’t Riley to go if it’s a boy-girl party and especially not if Maya was invited. Because…? But Maya’s not invited so Riley can go. To rephrase, Cory says it’s okay for his young daughter to go to a party with boys but ONLY if she goes by herself.

Then Cory breaks into today’s lesson, which is on the Sword of Damocles. Which is a literary/mythological reference and should have nothing to do with his class unless he’s doing a unit on Greek history, but the units on this show are so nonsensical. I mean they learned about Pearl Harbor and then had a class that was just about “the truth”.

Cory’s use of this moral anecdote of course beats us over the head with our lesson for this episode. For those unfamiliar with the Sword of Damocles, here’s what it is: Once there was this guy named Damocles, who told his friend the king that it must be super awesome to be king and be surrounded by such luxuries all the time. The king was like “Oh yeah? Well how about we trade places.” So Damocles took the throne and was totally pleased with living in the lap of luxury, except the king made it so there was a sword hanging over the throne being held in place by a single horsehair, to symbolize that a king’s life is always filled with fear, or something.

So long story short, it means that even the most luxurious position can be filled with fear and dread. It’s like “with great power comes great responsibility,” except it’s more like “with great power comes the possibility that you might be killed at any moment.”

I’m tired of all the history lessons on this show being so stupidly obvious, but this one gets positive points for being such a classy reference. Some of you may recognize this reference from A Series of Unfortunate Events, where you can find Damocles Dock, the sign of which has a sword hanging by a thread from it.

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Farkle got a haircut?

Riley interrupts Cory for literally no good reason. She’s just like “Even though I got invited to a party, this doesn’t apply to me!” Nobody asked you, Riley, shut up. I bet the reason this classroom has different kids in it every week is because they all keep transferring out so they can actually learn something from another teacher who doesn’t get constantly interrupted or stop talking for 5 minutes while his daughter has a conversation with her friends.

Umm also Farkle and Maya understand the story of Damocles pretty well, with Maya summarizing it as “be careful what you wish for” which isn’t quite what it’s supposed to mean, but pretty close.

Meanwhile-ish, Auggie drags Topanga into a bakery for his muffin and his cuppa joe. Ehhhg (okay it’s possible he said “joke” instead of “joe”). Topanga doesn’t want to stay, but it’s Auggie’s favorite place. Topanga tells him to get a new favorite, when the bakery owner lady spots them.

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Well, as much as I hate Auggie, without him we wouldn’t have Cloris Leachman in this episode, so that’s cool.

Cloris Leachman is sad because yogurt lawyers are putting her out of business.

Yeah.

It turns out Topanga is on the yogurt lawyer team. Uh-oh. Also Cloris Leachman’s character is supposed to be Ukrainian I think, but her accent sounds more like she’s doing a bad impression of a Chinese person but with a Dutch accent, except sometimes she doesn’t have an accent at all. Which is weird because I know Cloris can do vaguely Eastern European-sounding accents. Maybe her age is finally getting to her.

Um anyway also Auggie tells Cloris that Topanga will help her.

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Cory freaks out and tells Maya to go in and protect Riley. But Maya wasn’t invited so she can’t go in. It occurs to me that none of them even know whose apartment this party is being held in.

Riley screws up her courage and rings the doorbell. Farkle answers the door. It’s a geek party.

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You know that part before where I was like “It’s not going to turn out that Riley just got invited to a Geek Party with a bunch of other losers” was a complete guess on my part. WHY IS THIS SHOW SO PREDICTABLE OH MY GOD?? At least it seems like they aren’t supposed to all be decoys, though.

Also it turns out the 23 year old hipster was one 12 year old sitting on another’s shoulders. I mean it was clearly an adult actor before that reveal, but whatever.

Cory and Maya make fun of Riley, because how DARE she be excited that it turned out she wasn’t a loser after all because she got invited to a party but it turns out it’s a geek party so she IS a loser. What a loser! Haha. Making fun of your children is hilarious.

Cory concludes his mockery of his daughter by asking what could possibly make this better. Glasses Nerd randomly says “Have you noticed the lightsabers hanging precariously over your head?” One of them drops down to be just an inch from Riley’s head. HAHA JUST LIKE THE HISTORY LESSON THEY HAD BEFORE. Riley says “Damocles” before the commercial break.

This episode is scaring me because it explicitly said the word “sex” even though it meant it as in “male or female” rather than in the intercourse sense, it’s using the Sword of Damocles as a recurring theme, and also it had a last-second word swap with Riley saying “Damocles” instead of outright cursing. Like what writer came out of the woodwork to give this episode more of an edge?

That picture on the wall, though.
That picture on the wall, though.

Okay it turns out three of the nerds have glasses but who cares? Riley’s offended at being considered one of them, one offers her broccoli and carrots, and they all elect to make her their queen. Riley is flattered at suddenly being considered popular by all these geeks. Hey by the way it seemed like 23-year-old-hipster-who-is-actually-two-12-year-olds-sitting-on-on-top-of-the-other was putting invitations in every locker, even though only 3 people were actually invited by locker invitation (since those two didn’t get one, Farkle was hosting the party, and Riley’s was hand-delivered).

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Maya storms into class and demands Farkle tell her where Riley is. She wasn’t at home when Maya went to get her, and she wasn’t in the hallway. Gee if only Riley’s dad was somewhere in the room, maybe he’d know where she was?

Actually, no. Because she shows up dressed like a Harajuku girl and Cory is surprised by this.

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Riley declares that since the whole world sees her as a geek, she’ll set the geek world “on fiyaaa.” ….How? Are geeks normally set aflame by someone dressing in a way that’s popular in places? You know, speaking of which, I am REALLY angry at this show. It’s 2014, why are we still portraying geeks as nasally-voiced sweater-wearers with huge, thick glasses, who play chess and decorate their rooms with double helix models, who have seen every episode of every series of Star Trek 30 times but appear to have never spoken to a woman in their life??

Uggh.

Maya says something about Damocles and tells Riley that this new look isn’t her. Hey. Hey. Hey, Maya. Guess what. People change. Sometimes, especially in middle school, girls decide to change their image, because hormones or popularity or whatever. If Riley wants to be Imogen from Degrassi, that’s her business.

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Topanga’s getting dressed for work… I guess.

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She laments that another day on the job is another day of losing her soul. Oh no if only the stereotype that lawyers are soulless husks who have to fight for things they don’t believe in sometimes had been around when she went to law school!

Luckily, Topanga’s there to talk to her.

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Funnily enough, on the Boy Meets World season 1 set, every episode they do commentary on, has this dress in it. Weird.

Hippie Topanga says she got out of the way so Ambitious Topanga could become Lawyer Topanga without any problems, but now Lawyer Topanga is asking for help from Hippie Topanga. Then Cory shows up for no reason and stands behind Topanga and the audience just finds this adorable beyond words in the way the “X Meets World” audiences always overreact to everything.

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Cory says “hi” and then they flashback to a scene from season 1. WordPress won’t let me put in the screenshot of it for some reason.

But anyway the audience goes nuts over this. The whole scene is just Topanga asking for Cory’s hand so she can read his energy. It’s like 3 seconds. Boy I bet if I hadn’t watched that scene in 20 years it would be more awesome, as it is I actually just saw it again this year so, eh.

Apparently Topanga’s magic mirror and/or mental problems convince her to… eughh.

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…?

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Topanga’s in her “happy place” so Cloris Leachman decides to sing a song from her old country. Set to “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”, it goes “100 people in line for the bread, 100 people in line. One gets a loaf, takes it home, that’s all the bread we have for entire year.” Haha people died.

Topanga comes out of her trance and tells her lawyer colleague who I forgot to mention was there that she thinks it’s important for a neighborhood to have a place with actual culture in it. Look, Topanga, it’s not the lawyer’s fault that you live in a place in New York that apparently only has one immigrant-run, culturally ethnic food vendor. And if she’s not paying her rent, oh well for her.

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The next, or maybe same, day, Maya tries again to convince Riley to stop being her new self. Riley refuses. And she’s having an influence on the mega-geeks.

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Later, Maya breaks into Riley’s room to convince her AGAIN to stop being a geek. Like seriously, wow, if Riley wants to change her image, LET HER. Maya insists that Riley belongs to her and not to the geeks. Aww man if only it were possible to be friends with two groups of people at once! Ah, well. Too bad that’s impossible.

I am so upset I can’t find a gif or video of a compilation of all the times someone says “impossible” in Don Bluth’s “Thumbelina.”

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Topanga and daughter are both surprised to see each other so oddly dressed. Okay, so… Riley left the house on day 1 without one person in her family seeing her, and she somehow made it through almost two days without her mom seeing her at all?

Well, anyway, Topanga talks about how this is really who she is inside, and it’s the girl Cory fell in love with all those years ago, even though he still thought she was really weird when she was still dressing that way and didn’t dress that way for 6 out of the 7 seasons of Boy Meets World. It’s been 20 years, writers, you can’t just all of a sudden tells us Topanga was ALWAYS like this inside because she wasn’t for almost all of the series. You should’ve had this happen back in season 6 or something. I mean obviously the circumstances would be different, but… yeah.

Topanga asks if how Riley is dressing represents who she is inside. Riley explains that 5 people think she’s cool. So Topanga asks if Riley thinks Riley is cool.

…Yeah? I mean, I guess she’s not being true to herself or whatever, and that’s important, but what’s wrong with her being happy that more people like her? I mean is it really that terrible to want to be liked? Yes, “AT WHAT COST???!!!”, but come on. She’s just pleased that someone besides Maya and Farkle like her, and I guess Lucas likes her but he’s not in this episode. She’s not trying to take over the school with popularity or anything.

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Cloris Leachman is about to finish signing over the bakery to the mean lawyer, but then Topanga, Cory, and Auggie bust in. Topanga’s going to buy out the bakery and be a shared partner with Cory and Cloris. Also she quits the law firm.

Again, Topanga quit her high-paying job because she objected to someone losing their business due to being unable to pay rent.

Hope that bakery really rakes in the dough, hardy-har-har.

But seriously, let’s review. Topanga’s inner hippie doesn’t want this nice foreign lady to lose her business, which is fine, so she decides to put her family’s financial security on the line to buy a share in the place even though Topanga doesn’t know anything about running a business, and they have two children who probably could’ve used the money she was getting as a lawyer.

Also this whole “Topanga doesn’t like being a soulless lawyer” thing probably would’ve made more sense if this wasn’t like the first time they’d even mentioned her being a lawyer on this show. I think they did mention it once, but she appears to just be a stay-at-home mom for the majority of the episodes.

Also, there’s lots of different sets of law. If she didn’t want to be in a position where she’d be working for a company that’s putting old ladies out of business, maybe she should’ve gone into family law or environmental law or something.

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The qualifying rounds for the state spelling bee I forgot to mention that Farkle made Riley compete in are being held… in Cory’s classroom. Where they’re apparently STILL studying The Sword of Damocles. All these kids are gonna be screwed once they get to high school and no longer have week-long units on really simple things like this.

Also there’s only 6 people competing. Riley goes first, and Maya comes in and slips in a new word for her to spell. It’s “harajuku.” She asks for the definition, and Cory talks about Harajuku being a neighborhood in Japan where authentic Japanese girls created an authentic style that’s unique to them. Riley sees the errors of her ways and drops out of the spelling bee, and nobody complains about Cory constantly wasting EVERYONE ELSE’S TIME on his stupid daughter.

Also why in the heck did this episode suddenly become about cultural appropriation??

See, it would’ve made sense to me if they convinced Riley that she doesn’t need to be liked by everyone to feel good about herself, and she shouldn’t change who she is just so people will like her.

Instead they convinced Riley by basically telling her she’s not Japanese.

WHY DO THE POINTS ON THIS SHOW NEVER MAKE ANY SENSE?!

Also, that’s terrible. Although Harajuku fashion did originate in Harajuku, Japan, it’s not like they own the copyright in dressing that way. I mean, lots of Japanese people dress in fashions that were originated in America, by Americans, authentic to Americans, but you don’t see terrible middle school teachers telling them they can’t dress that way because they’re not American.

I mean Riley probably bought all of that stuff from Hot Topic and that store that used to be called Limited Too anyway. I guess it’s sort of a rough spot – it IS a Japanese thing, but it’s a fashion and not like some cultural tradition or anything.

But the point is still – why is telling Riley that she’s stealing from the Japanese the solution to her not acting like herself?

Also, big question: If Riley didn’t know what the term “harajuku” meant, and didn’t know what it referred to, and nobody else in the little geek group knew she was dressing that way, and none of them dress that way themselves, how and why did she start dressing that way in the first place?

So maybe, MAYBE she really did just go to Hot Topic and buy a bunch of crap and put it all together, completely unaware of this Harajuku thing, in which case it’s just a coincidence and not her dressing in a fashion invented in Japan.

UGGGH. 6 episodes in, this is just not a great show so far. I mean on Boy Meets World, usually the life lessons actually made sense. That time Cory was trying to win a geography bee so he could be a bat boy at a baseball game, nobody told him he was trying too hard to be something he’s not and geography bees were developed by geography students to have a bee that was authentic to them so he needs to drop out of the bee.

Also, this whole thing actually proves that Riley would’ve been TERRIBLE in this spelling bee. Real spelling bee-ers can figure out how to spell many words based on their country of origin. Riley couldn’t even figure out that “Harajuku”‘s country of origin is Japan even when Cory literally told her that Harajuku is IN Japan. Does Riley have a crayon stuck in her brain? How is she THIS dumb?

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Over the credits, Topanga asks Cory if he misses Hippie Topanga. I think he said he doesn’t care or something, whatever. Also even though I just saw it 15 seconds ago I completely forgot what Riley and Maya were talking about. We end on a callback to a joke I didn’t mention before. “It’s not Ukrainian bakery, it’s OURkrainian bakery.” Auggie doesn’t get it because he sucks. Also he’s a terrible actor. Talk about inauthentic laughter. It wasn’t even good fake laughter.

Also the only people eating in that cafe are the people who own it. GOOD BUSINESS INVESTMENT. There was only like 1 other person in there throughout the episode, too.

Final notes:

This show is slowly getting on my nerves.

Also re: opening notes, this is Smackle.

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Farkle didn’t realize she was a girl for some reason. And her name is Smackle. She might actually be a kind of cereal.

Also she goes to another school, so 23 year old hipster couldn’t have put anything in her locker.

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