Jan 15, 2013

Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World (1993-2000) was a teencom about a boy named Corey (Ben Savage, left), his girlfriend and eventual wife Topanga (Danielle Fishel), and her jealousy over his his stylish, feminine, gay-coded boyfriend Shawn (Rider Strong).

The subtext was nearly text, same-sex romance always just beneath the surface.  In "Learning to Fly," Topanga finds Corey and Shawn hugging and cries, "Stop it!  You're both boys!"  A flashback reveals another same-se hug in kindergarten, and Topanga again crying "Stop it!  You're both boys!"  Evidently she has spent her life policing Corey's actions to ensure that he "remain" heterosexual.

After they are married, Topanga continues to be jealous of Shawn, referring to him as Corey's "boyfriend" and insisting that Corey choose between them.  At Topanga's instigation, Corey must constantly explain that he is in love with her and not Shawn.  In "The Happiest Show on Earth," in the midst of a conversation, Corey suddenly feels the need to tell Shawn: "When I see Topanga, I want to hold her, hug her, kiss her.  When I see you, I have no desire to do any of those things."  This is a nonsequiter.  Shawn has never intimated that he wants Corey to hug, hold, or kiss him (although they hug all the time).  Shawn remains placid, waiting for the audience howls to die down before he goes on to his next line.  Really, there is no way he could act without foregrounding the possibility that their relationship is indeed romantic.

Corey's older brother Eric (Will Friedle) is a gay-vague free spirit.  When Corey asks  Eric about his "first time," Eric says "Remember Mitchell Davis?"  Stunned, Corey stops him: "Why don't you tell me about your second time." Instead Eric tells about how Mitchell Davis convinced him to take the training wheels off his bike before he was ready, a parable about waiting for sex.  Yet he also evades the question of his first sexual experience.  His knowing smile suggests that it may have well been with a boy, but he switched to the bicycle story upon determining that Corey would respond badly.

In the fifth season, the producers sought to replicate the Corey-Shawn homoromance by introducing Corey's older brother, Jack Hunter (Matthew Lawrence, left) to hook up with Eric.  He also got some on-the-air time with Jason Marsden.

All of the male cast members have been the subject of gay rumors, but none except for Matthew Lawrence have been involved in particularly gay-friendly projects.  Rider Strong (left) starred in Cabin Fever (2005), with its infamous "shooting fags" line, but he also played a gay character, Davis, in Crumbs (2006).

Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel are currently planning to reprise their characters as married with children, in the new sitcom Girl Meets World.