The Return of TGIF
For ’90s babies such as myself, the letters TGIF are magical. That didn’t just mean that it was Friday, it meant that that night was going to be a funny one. TGIF was ABC’s legendary Friday night comedy lineup. Beginning (officially) in 1988, ABC kicked off its weekend with two hours of laughs. Over the course of 12 seasons, TGIF was the home of some of the most legendary sitcoms of the late ’80s and ’90s. Boy Meets World, Family Matters, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and Full House all found their respective homes on Friday nights. TGIF was cancelled after the 1999-2000 season, only to be revived for two seasons from 2003-2005.
The original TGIF will always live in legend for us ’90s babies, but it’s quickly becoming a thing of the present, not the past. While the TGIF block in itself is no longer around, two long-running series are making a comeback. It was announced in 2012 that Disney Channel was resurrecting Boy Meets World with a sequel series entitled Girl Meets World. The series, set in New York City, as opposed to the original’s setting of Philadelphia, follows (SPOILER ALERT) Cory and Topanga Matthews’ daughter, Riley, and her misfit best friend, Maya. Sound familiar? The show is essentially a reboot without being a reboot. Riley is Corey and Maya is Shawn. Now, the show being essentially a reboot doesn’t mean that there are no characters or references to the (in my opinion) vastly superior Boy Meets World. On top of having Cory and Topanga as regulars, Cory’s parents, Angela, and Jack have all had guest roles. On top of that, Eric, Mr. Feeny, Mr. Turner, Minkus, Joshua (Cory’s little brother who was only one when Boy Meets World ended), and, most importantly, Shawn have all had multiple guest roles over the course of the series’ first two seasons.
Another, arguably more legendary series will be making its return in February. Netflix will be releasing all 13 episodes of the extremely highly-anticipated sequel series to the classic Full House: Fuller House. Like with Girl Meets World, Fuller House is basically a reboot of Full House, while maintaining all of the same characters. The premise of the show is that D.J. Tanner moves back into her childhood home after her husband dies. Her sister Stephanie and best friend Kimmy move in with her to help her raise her three sons. Again, sound familiar? Everyone in the original cast is returning, with the exception of the Olsen twins, who elected not to return for the sequel.
As you may have noticed, both Girl Meets World and Fuller House share startling similarities to their respective source material. The question is why? Fans want to see a continuation of the show they loved, not a carbon copy. I think there are two reasons as to why Disney and Netflix chose to go down this path. First, both formats have been proven to be successful. Boy Meets World ran for seven seasons, and Full House ran for eight. Nowadays, seven seasons is an eternity. You can’t blame Disney and Netflix for looking at something that ran seven or eight seasons and wanting to copy it. The idea being that it was the formula that drew people in, when in actuality it was the characters. That’s also part of my first reason. No matter what show, people want to know what happens to their favorite characters after the series ends. For example, I would love to know what’s happened to the characters of The Office, Parks and Recreation, Home Improvement, and Family Matters after the shows ended. The assumption by the networks is that people come for the characters and stay for the formula. I disagree. I believe that people stay for the characters. However, there is something to be said about the familiarity and nostalgia of the formula. I believe that does play a small part in drawing in an audience.
The other reason for making a sequel-reboot is that it’s an opportunity to bring the same formula to a newer, younger audience. Boy Meets World ended in 2000, and Full House ended in 1995. There’s a whole generation of young people who may not have ever seen either show, or has seen each show in passing, but has never really watched religiously. These shows give those younger viewers the opportunity to follow along with the characters like their parents or older siblings did when the source material was still on the air.
The new trend to revive older series with sequel series is an interesting one. The assumed reasoning for bringing these shows back is that there is a virtually guaranteed audience that the networks know will tune in. The interesting challenge will be to make the sequel series new and fresh, and finding the right balance between falling back on the original source material and creating new stories and characters. As a ’90s baby and lover of TGIF, I hope that Fuller House succeeds and that Girl Meets World continues to succeed and pave the way for more ’90s sitcoms to come back with sequels. TGIF!