Last night, my BFF Evelyn and I watched the infamous “And Then There Was Shawn” episode of the old ABC sitcom Boy Meets World.
Why Were We Watching It?
We were watching it because it’s October and we both had Halloween on the mind. Of course, according to the Boy Meets World wikia – and yes, I am as shocked as you to discover that such a thing exists — this episode actually originally aired on February 27th, 1998 so, technically, it was more of a belated Valentine’s Day episode than a Halloween episode. But anyone who has ever sat through And Then There Was Shawn knows that this was so totally a Halloween episode, even if it did air in February.
What Was It About?
And Then There Was Shawn pretty much starts out the exact same way as every single episode of Boy Meets World: Obsessive-stalker Cory (Ben Savage) and frigid, self-righteous Topanga (Danielle Fishel) are having issues and the entire world is just so concerned about whether or not they’ll be able to get back together so that they can eventually get married at the age of 18. Cory’s friend Shawn (played by the very adorable Rider Strong) manages to stop talking about living in the trailer park long enough to disrupt Mr. Feeney’s history class. Rather then questioning why his entire life seems to revolve around a bunch of 16 year-olds, Mr. Feeney (William Daniels) responds by giving everyone detention.
So, Topanga, Cory, and Shawn are all in Mr. Feeney’s after-school detention, along with Shawn’s boring girlfriend Angela and a random student named Kenny. (It took me a while to recognize that Kenny was being played by Richard Lee Jackson, who I remembered from Saved By The Bell: The New Class.) Since this is Boy Meets World, everyone is using their time in detention to discuss Cory and Topanga’s creepy relationship when suddenly “No one gets out of here alive” appears on the chalkboard, written in blood.
And from that moment on, it goes from being a standard episode of Boy Meets World to transforming into being perhaps one of the weirdest episodes ever to show up in a family sitcom.
Soon, Kenny’s dead as the result of someone jamming a pencil into his head, Mr. Feeney’s dead with a pair of scissors in his back, there’s a creepy janitor stalking the hallways, and Cory’s cute older brother Eric (Will Friedle) shows up, along with Jennifer Love Hewitt. By the end of the episode, almost the entire cast has been killed and, of course, it turns out that it’s all because the entire world revolves around Cory and Topanga…
Over the course of the episode, just about every character on the show is killed off. Considering just how annoying most of the characters on Boy Meets World could be, it’s hard not to appreciate this episode’s determination to kill all of them off.
The episode, itself, is actually pretty well-written and clever. Unlike a lot of sitcom Halloween episodes, And Then There Was Shawn actually feels like a legitimate (and respectful) homage to the great horror films of the past.
What Did Not Work?
I’ve often wondered if the audiences in the 20th Century found the character of Cory Matthews to be as creepy as I find him to be in the 21st. Seriously, whenever I see Boy Meets World, I’m struck by the fact that Cory basically spends every episode telling everyone that 1) they’ll never love anyone as much as he loves Topanga, 2) that Topanga’s belonged to him her entire life, and 3) that everyone in the world has an obligation to think about him and Topanga before they do or say anything. In addition to that, you have to consider his oddly co-dependent relationship with Shawn, the fact that he looks nothing like anyone else in his family, and the fact that whenever he and Topanga have a fight, he yells, “NO! We’re not supposed to ever disagree because I love you Topanga and … YOU LOVE ME!” Seriously, what a creep! Fortunately, Corey is less of a jerk than usual in this episode but, all things considered, it’s still hard to root for that little psycho.
Finally, what was up with the Boy Meets World theme song? I mean, it’s awful but it certainly does get stuck in your head.
“OMG! Just like me!” Moments
To be honest, I find almost all of the regular characters on Boy Meets World to be so annoying that I’m almost tempted to say that there wasn’t a single “Just like me!” moment in this episode. However, I do have to admit that — much like Jennifer Love Hewitt in this episode — I probably would have found time to make out with Eric as well. Seriously, he was soooooooooo cute!
Sitcom love = creepy love.