Editors’ Note: As our love for spin-off series Girl Meets World grows, John Hanlon recaps the original series that ran from 1993 to 2000, reminding us why we fell in love with Cory Matthews, Topanga Lawrence and Shawn Hunter in the first place.
Season 1 | Episode 15 | “Model Family” | Aired February 4, 1994
“They were too perfect,” Cory notes in episode 15 of Boy Meets World. Of course, he isn’t talking about his television family—who have proven imperfect time and time again when Morgan eventually disappears without anyone noticing. He is referring to the family on Leave it to Beaver.
Mr. Feeny shows his class an episode of the classic 1950’s program, which Cory and Shawn quickly dismiss as unrealistic. The professor then asks the students to build their own “model” families. Much to the students’ dismay, Feeny tells Minkus and Shawn to act as brothers while Topanga and Cory are asked to act as their parents (Cory, of course, is shocked. Marry Topanga? Such a bizarre concept).
The trick of the project is that Minkus and Shawn have to write up a description of their perfect sibling while Topanga and Cory have to write up a piece about their ideal spouse. Then those given such descriptions have to act those roles out accordingly.
At the Matthews home, the quartet discuss their assignments. Topanga learns what Cory is looking for in a spouse (“My ideal wife wouldn’t care how dirty my room is”) and offers this unforgettable gem: “Why don’t you just marry Shawn?”
Searching for his own ideal mate at the mall is Cory’s older brother, Eric. He’s hanging out with his long-term friend (why haven’t we heard of him before?), Jason (Jason Marsden). When a good-looking woman named Alexis (Kathy Ireland) walks up to him, Eric is willing to accept anything she says. She offers him a modeling career and soon he’s paying $90 to have his photos taken. When he returns to his house, Cory informs him that he’s been tricked into paying for photos that no one is ever going to see.
When Alan and Amy learn about their son’s mistake, they take different approaches. Alan wants to yell at his son while Amy wants to let him make his own mistakes (she wins the argument when Eric admits that he was fooled and decides to go ask for his money back). Eric returns to the mall—learning from his own mistake—only to find out that Alexis has a modeling job lined up for him. Eric then quits his job at his father’s grocery store, making a whole new mistake in the process.
When Feeny’s class returns to session, the “model family” led by Cory and Topanga talk about their family’s make-believe dilemma. Minkus, the rebellious son, had determined he wanted a tattoo and the parents had to deal with that situation. Cory, acting like Topanga would, argues that Minkus should use his own body the way he wants while Topanga, acting as Cory would, just says no to the tattoo. Well, Minkus—ripping off his shirt—argues that he didn’t care what they thought and got the tattoo on his own. (“Minkus, you’ve got a dark side. It speaks to me,” Shawn says.) While Cory complains that Minkus failed at the assignment, Feeny notes that children making terrible decisions is a natural consequence of having a family.
Speaking of terrible decisions, Eric learns too late that his new modeling position has him dressing up like a lobster and sitting in a dunk tank where he will get dropped into a “tub o butter.” When he realizes his mistake, he goes to his father and asks for his job back and a second chance, like his father once gave him in Monopoly. Eric says that when he landed on Boardwalk during the game, his father always protected him from the negative consequences.
“You called it a misroll and let me roll again,” he says.
Alan, noting that Eric isn’t a child anymore, states that he won’t always be there when his son needs him. He can’t offer his son the job back—he’s already hired someone else—but he will give Eric his old job working nights and weekends. His son begrudgingly accepts the position.
Life lesson: There is no such thing as a model family… and Minkus has a dark side.
Memorable quote: “I wouldn’t know.” —Mr. Feeny responding to Cory’s contention that “it’s easy to sound smart when you got the best writers in Hollywood writing everything you say.”
Note: On the IMDB.com page for this episode, Jason Marsden is credited with playing a character named “Jason Marsden.”
What did you think of the fifteenth episode of Boy Meets World? Did you notice that Cory didn’t seem as offended at the prospect of marrying Topanga as he would have in an earlier episode?