I’ve been watching a lot of Boy Meets World (BMW) lately, a classic 90s sitcom. For those of you who have never seen this wonderful program I have two things to say:
- I know you don’t realize it now, but you really are missing out on something great. I would recommend watching the show. Plus, it’s the only sitcom where the college seasons are just as good as the younger years.
- There will be some spoilers mentioned below. Beware.
BMW executed the suspension of disbelief better than most. Sure there are many flaws but you simply accept them. Like the door in the main hallway of the high school that is a counselors office one episode and a bathroom the next. Or the character of Harvey, a Fonzie-esque bully, who is suddenly played by a different actor for one random episode. Did y’all know that Shawn had a sister? No? Well, that’s because she’s only mentioned once. But fans of the show either don’t care or they never noticed. Personally, I never realized the door thing until it was mentioned in an episode commentary.
Lot’s of things change throughout the show, Eric gets dumber, Shawn’s story line gets heavier, and Cory marries Topanga. But one thing remains consistent from season 1 through season 7 – Mr. Feeny.
Mr. Feeny, played by William Daniels, is the best example of the, “wise teacher who’s also a friend,” trope that I can think of. There are many shows that have tried to use that trope, Glee being the most current example, but none of them are able to capture the essence of Mr. Feeny. I think it comes down to what I mentioned earlier, you just accept him. From the first episode you understand that Mr. Feeny is going to be the voice of authority and reason throughout the show, and your okay with that. In the real world is it normal for a teacher to follow four of his students throughout their education? No, but in BMW it’s not only acceptable it’s part of the shows charm.
Daniels played his role in a way that gave his character depth, Mr. Feeny felt like a real person, like he could have my own mentor if only I were lucky enough to have him as my next door neighbor. A common problem I have with the wise teacher trope is that I get annoyed with the character, they either end up more stupid than the kids, silly, shallow, simplistic, or they fade into the background. Not Mr. Feeny, without him BMW never would have made it past season 1, he’s the heart of the show.
Mr. Feeny brings magic to the screen and never once have I doubted his importance or got annoyed by his character. Why? Because he’s genuine. He’s not trying too hard, he doesn’t go easy on the kids, he knows what they are capable of, and he is able to help them become their best selves. In short, he loves them and they him.
Here’s a bit of wise advice given by Mr. Fee-hee-heee-heeeny on the final episode of the BMW:
“I love you all, class dismissed.” – Mr. Feeny.