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'Boy Meets World' #TBT recap: Cory takes a turn as Hamlet

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 20 | “The Play’s the Thing” | Aired Apr 29, 1994

The Play’s the Thing appropriately serves as the title of the 20th episode of Boy Meets World. While so many other episodes focus on literature from a thematic perspective, this episode brings it to life with Mr. Feeny putting on a play of selected scenes from William Shakespeare’s beloved play Hamlet.

While the class groans at the idea (Was I the only one to enjoy acting my high school play?), they eventually come around to the sword fights and the violence that the play offers. Cory is chosen as Hamlet himself, but after he realizes that his costume consists of a doublet and tights ( “a mini-dress and pantyhose,” according to him), he quits the production. Before he quits, though, he gets one last jab in about Hamlet’s indecisiveness being caused because he didn’t wear pants.

“Is that a sexist comment?” Topanga asks.

Cory responds, “That’s what I was shooting for.”

Cory believes that Feeny will relent on the costume. Instead, Feeny finds a new Hamlet, settling for the outlandish acting abilities of Minkus. No one likes Minkus in the play (not even the usually reserved Feeny), but Minkus is the only one who knows all of the lines and can take Cory’s spot with only a week’s notice.

Believing that he did the right thing by standing up for himself, Cory suggests his father do the same with the district manager at the grocery store. The chain of stores had been experiencing financial difficulties, leading to a 5 percent salary decrease across the board—and to Alan canceling the family’s annual trip to the Jersey Shore (where they always played minigolf). Alan was just going to let the salary cut stand, but after being encouraged by his 12-year-old son, he decides to speak up about it.

Because of Cory’s departure from the play, Shawn—who was set to play a swordsman—is bumped up to play the larger role of Polonius. Dressed in a large outfit, Shawn tells Cory how excited he now is about the play (his dad is even coming!). Shawn knows that it will bomb with Minkus in the lead, though, and tells Cory that he let the cast down by quitting. Feeling guilty, Cory approaches Feeny about his role, but Feeny is unrelenting. Minkus is the new Hamlet, Feeny notes, but Cory can accept a smaller role as a swordsman.

Cory groans that Feeny should’ve chosen a better play (“Couldn’t we do selected scenes from The Terminator?”),but Feeny shows the stirring and timely power of Hamlet by acting out a scene as Hamlet’s father.

In the end, Cory regrets quitting the play (he realizes he let his class down) and tries to warn Alan about confronting his boss. He’s too late. Alan spoke to his boss but was unable to recoup the loss. He wanted to quit his job in protest, but didn’t because he knew that would let down his family.

Maybe next year the Matthews family will return to the Jersey shore, but in the meantime, the family constructs a minigolf course in their backyard. They play a game, and a chastened Cory appears in Hamlet as a swordsman, as Feeny suggested.

Life lesson: When you’re part of a team, you need to think of everyone else’s wishes and not just your own desires.

Memorable quote: “Apparently this is something everyone wants to see.” —Shawn noting that even his father is willing to come to the play to watch Shawn’s character die onstage

Note: This episode is bursting with pop-culture references, unlike so many of the other episodes. Here, there are references to The Terminator, Steven Seagal, and even Jean Claude Van Damme. (Oh, we do love the ’90s.)

What did you think of the 20th episode of Boy Meets World? Was Feeny right to keep Minkus in the play even when Cory said he would return? Were you surprised by the sexism displayed by Cory and Shawn (the latter of whom mocked the sewing abilities of Topanga’s father)?

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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