For some, the acronym refers to the restaurant with delicious chicken fingers. For others, the four letters bring pleasant thoughts of a weekend filled with drinking, sleeping or watching football. However, for anyone in our age group, the letters T.G.I.F. should always bring only one thought to mind: The glorious Friday night block of television ABC aired for over a decade. Don’t pretend like you’re too cool to know what I’m talking about. Throughout the ’90s, Friday night television meant “Family Matters,” “Step by Step” or “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.” But one show always stood out as the center of ABC’s block of family-friendly programming. Starting in 1993, “Boy Meets World” gave kids of our generation a show they could grow up with. Cory, Topanga, Shawn and the rest introduced us to the drama of high school, friendships and relationships far before any of us reached those points. And, if you happened to be hitting puberty during the mid-’90s, Topanga also introduced you to the life-altering concept of teenage girls having big breasts.
But what happened to Cory and his gang after he met the world? I don’t mean the fictional characters. We all know Cory and Topanga were happily married and moved into the suburbs where they popped out child after child, all the while continuing to take parenting advice from Mr. Feeny, who creepily followed them everywhere they ever went. The real mystery is what ever happened to Ben Savage, the actor who played Cory, and the rest of a cast, who have altogether disappeared since “BMW” was taken off the air in 2000.
While he played an idiot on TV, it turns out Savage was actually pretty smart in real life, or at the very least, pretty good at using his quasi-fame to further his personal life. Savage graduated from Stanford in 2004 with a degree in political science, and even interned for Senator Arlen Specter during his college years. Apparently no one took him too seriously as an intern because after graduation he went back to acting – with very little success.
After playing the perennially odd Topanga for almost a decade, the weirdness didn’t stop for Danielle Fishel once the cameras stopped rolling. She dated Lance Bass for a while, which wouldn’t be all that weird until you consider the fact that Bass later came out of the closet. Along with sending guys to the other team, Fishel appeared in a couple of shitty National Lampoon movies, became a spokesperson for NutriSystem and has been a correspondent for “The Tyra Banks Show.” As if none of those things were embarrassing enough, she was arrested after being pulled over for driving drunk last December. Life hasn’t been too sweet for Topanga since ABC pulled the plug, but at the age of 26, she still has at least a couple of years to pose in Playboy or release a sex tape to resurrect her career.
Rider Strong played Shawn, the supposed badass for years, but it turns out in real life he graduated from Columbia with an English degree and enjoys writing poetry. Lame. Will Friedle played a complete moron on the show – Eric Matthews – but he actually has some pretty good business sense in the real world, turning his “BMW” fame into a decent voiceover career. Remember Minkus and Feeny? Well they’ve had modest successes, with Minkus appearing on “One Tree Hill” and Feeny – who I refuse to call by his real name – having small roles in “Blades of Glory” and a few popular TV shows. Ironically, the cast member who’s had the most success is one who had a bit role on the show. After playing Frankie, the high school enforcer, Ethan Suplee has gone on to a big role in “My Name is Earl.” Sadly, he seems to be the most successful of the bunch. So there you have it: Eight years after the show went off the air, the most successful alum is the guy who used to stuff the stars in their lockers. I guess the world wasn’t so kind to the boy after all.