After getting a pair of episodes that contained key developments both in terms of Riley Matthews’ romantic life and Maya’s family, Friday night’s new episode of “Girl Meets World” took a little bit of a step back. In doing so, they brought us an installment in “Girl Meets the Real World” that featured the character doing arguably the most inherently-mean things that she has over the course of the series — but they were also mean with purpose.
Did the show do enough to pay them off? Not entirely, which is probably why this was one of the weaker episodes of the season. Let’s begin with the premise: After being far too bright and sunshiney during a debate at school, Cory challenged his daughter to take a differing position than normal in an upcoming debate: He wanted her to argue the case that people are inherently evil rather than good. As a result of that, she took to some experimental behaviors in order to prove her point. First, she ate a cookie from Zay’s grandmother, an important one to him because she was old and in declining health. Then, she didn’t give a homeless man money for new shoes, and she openly insulted Auggie for trying to clean up the beach.
Of the three, all were slightly-disappointing actions for the character, but in reality we’re not sure giving money to people asking for it is the right lesson. The show’s presentation of generosity here was somewhat clumsy; it’s good to teach children that sometimes it is good to give people in need support, but is making a habit out of helping someone raise money really a good thing, especially when you don’t know where the money? This show took a really optimistic approach in having Two-Shoes Louie actually be saving money for those shoes.
When it eventually came to be time for Riley to turn around and recognize the error of her ways, all it took were a couple of lines from her dad in order to come back to normal. There needed to be a better-defined transition between good Riley and evil Riley, and we also wanted to see her deliver via her actions to Zay that she was sorry. She was willing to visit Two-Shoes to give him money, so why didn’t she try to reach out to Zay’s grandmother, or even make him another cookie herself? That would have shown more of her actual goodness rather than a presto-change-o moment while at the debate itself.
Ultimately, “Girl Meets the Real World” was a smart idea to teach a lesson that really fell flat. It took too long developing evil Riley, and once we got there we didn’t really have enough time to change her back and have it mean something. Out of the lessons the show has handed out, this one will likely be forgettable when the dust settles. Grade: C.
Head over here to get some other details regarding “Girl Meets Bear,” the next new episode airing in a week’s time. Also, sign up over here to score some other TV news on everything we cover via our official CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Disney Channel.)