“The Father-Son Game” – Boy Meets World S1E11

I’ve been wondering a lot lately, and asking myself– as I continuously come back to these Boy Meets World reviews and my initial decision to revisit all 158 episodes– why I chose to do this. Why, exactly, did I decide this was something I wanted to do: choosing to spend countless hours and, eventually, write over 150,000 words (which is basically two novels worth of material) on a silly little TGIF sitcom? What was my driving desire in this process, that ineffable source of inspiration that was prodding me to take on such an asinine and absurd endeavor?

I suppose I touched on this when I initially announced my intention to go through the television series episode-by-episode, starting with the pilot and ending with the series finale, and I’ve made note of this entire website being a resume of sorts for future professional prospects. But I still don’t quite know why I figured this was a good idea, a smart and savvy use of my time as it were, because the end goal doesn’t quite match up with the effort required to get there.

I guess it doesn’t really matter, and not just because so few people have ever read, or will ever read, these BMW reviews. I’ve started and stopped so many different projects throughout the past 15 months, including numerous half-written episode reviews and depression essays, that it feels necessary to find something on here to push towards completion. And I guess, when I think about it, my reluctance– to do what I promised I would– fits in reasonably well with the plot and theme of this episode.

“The Father-Son Game,” the 11th episode from the first season, follows the tried-and-true template of Alan Matthews– television’s greatest father– being excited for an activity with his sons and, in a case of classic Cory, his kids letting him down by being incredibly selfish. Seriously, the only thing Cory’s dad wants is one day to play in a softball game, with his kids, for his supermarket against the Unicorn Rainbow Book Store (owned by Topanga’s parents, because they’re crunchy granola hippies; get it?). But they put up such a fight, so drastically resisting their father’s simple wish to give up half a Saturday, that Alan lies and says the game was cancelled.

This is of course untrue, and Alan’s grocery store gets beaten severely. When Cory and Eric find out, they are naturally upset and guilt-ridden, since they weren’t monsters, just kids with underdeveloped brains. It’s helpful to keep in mind that, while Cory was often a self-centered little asshole, it’s not entirely a 12-year old’s fault for being driven by his Id. The human brain is far from fully functioning, and the amygdala (where emotions are theoretically processed) is still growing throughout adolescence. He isn’t entirely to blame for his egregious actions, just like most children can’t be held entirely responsible for their own. But the series returns to this well so often during this first season, that it takes a toll as a viewer.

Because– surprise, surprise!– the kids make it up to Alan, and all is forgiven. The show does take an interesting approach to the resolution, where Cory and Eric, in a sort of super accurate assessment, inform their father that kids are going to naturally resist any activity their parents push them into (especially family activities). And it was Alan’s own fault for not forcing them to play in the first place, since what did he expect? Kids are gonna rebel, and it’s the father’s job to force them into activities they will, belatedly and begrudgingly, admit they enjoy.

Honestly, part of the difficulty in getting these reviews completed and published is the fact that season one of BMW kind of sucks. Seriously, does anyone else remember Leonard Spinelli, Alan’s assistant manager who awkwardly re-introduces himself in every scene? He’s a terrible character, a bizarrely broad caricature of a neurotic and lonely man, and is never missed once he’s gone forever. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned the distinctive differences between the opening season of the show, and those that would follow. But it’s a slog to get through some of these episodes and find any sort of interesting or insightful take on the events that unfold on screen.

I’ve just got to race through the rest of season one and get to some of the good stuff, when Topanga is a typical teen girl (rather than a weird flower child), when the kids have entered John Adams High, and after Minkus left for the other side of the school, just off camera. There’s still a ton of wonderful material I’ve yet to cover, and considering I started these reviews because I absolutely adore the series, it would be nice to write about some episodes I actually love. It’ll take some time, for sure, but what the hell else do I have to do? 

Not hang out with friends, of course (womp, womp).

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