There are TV shows that we enjoy watching but don’t give much thought to when they end. Then there are those shows that shape who we are forever. Over the past six months, I’ve fallen in love with Girl Meets World. I fall well outside the target audience for the Disney Channel, as I grew up with Boy Meets World reruns on the network. The lessons that show taught me have stayed with me as I’ve aged and have meant even more when I look back at them. Just as Boy Meets World taught me to do good all those years ago, it’s successor is proving equally valuable for all those growing up with Riley and Maya.
When news of Girl Meets World’s cancellation broke a little over a week ago, fans proved just how much they have taken the message of the show to heart. In “Girl Meets Pluto”, they learned how to hope and hold on to dreams. They learned that it is up to them to decide what is important to them and what will become a part of their own personal histories. In “Girl Meets Creativity”, they learned to fight for the things that matter to them. They learned that it was important to find and hold on to the things that inspire them and to carry those things with them. That is exactly what they have done.
Fan campaigns aren’t uncommon in the world of television. Jericho fans sent peanuts to CBS, Chuck fans consumed a lot of Subway, and CSI fans sent in money and hired planes to do a banner flyover of the studios to convince them to keep Jorja Fox on the show. Hashtags asking networks to save shows pop up every spring before upfronts. In this new media environment, there is more hope than ever than a cancelled favorite will be picked up by another network. Yahoo acquired Community, Hulu got The Mindy Project, Netflix continued Longmire, and CMT gave Nashville a new home. Despite these successes, it’s still a long shot. But these fans didn’t let that stop them.
It started with a targeted campaign to get Netflix to pick up the show. Fans encouraged each other to request the show and talk to customer service representatives about it, in hopes that they could pass the message along. They took advantage of the live chat feature, they made phone calls and they wrote emails. Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Screenshot after screenshot were posted showing that their voices were being heard and employees offered additional advice to increase the likelihood that their desires would be seen by the right people. They expanded their efforts to Hulu after realizing Disney owned a partial share in the company and may have an easier time acquiring the rights. They turned their sights on the Disney Channel itself, asking them to consider selling the rights to the show to someone else so it could be continued. They continued the legacy of flooding the mailroom of networks with a physical good, opting for paper airplanes (featured in the credits of both Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World) with messages on them about what the show means to them and how much they need the lessons this show is teaching them. I have to admit, in my years in fandom, it’s one of the most impressive “save my show” efforts I’ve seen.
As is to be expected by such a large outpouring, the creative team behind the show became aware of these efforts. They could have simply thanked everyone for their love and passion but on more than one occasion now, they have affirmed the power of their fan’s voices. They’ve acknowledged that if they are picked up elsewhere, it will be because of what these fans have started. Rowan Blanchard’s letter to the fans showed how deeply this cast and crew felt about the work they were doing and the voice they were giving to the power and strength of teenagers.
No matter what happens with the show’s future, I am thankful for and inspired by these fans, the young ones especially, and the team behind this show that continues to encourage them.
Girl Meets World has already made an impact on its fans. Through the messages in this show, the example of Rowan’s activism, and the support of the people around them, this younger generation is learning that their voice matters. They are learning that their passion matters. They are learning that people change people and that the people that change them can be fictional. I can’t think of more important messages to teach them as they grow and make this world their own. I hope their efforts are rewarded and this message is reinforced. A new platform would give the creative team even more room to tell the stories they want to tell and impart the lessons they want to pass on. There is more than they want to teach and the fans are clearly eager to learn. I was fortunate to have 7 years with Mr. Feeny. I hope this generation gets to continue to grow from Cory’s teaching the same way I did from his.