It’s no secret that friendship was the cornerstone of the ’90s show “Boy Meets World,” featuring the iconic bromance between Cory and Shawn. The dynamic of the duo is passed on to Riley and Maya in “Girl Meets World,” the next generation to continue exploring different aspects of friendship in Season 3.
I caught up with the girls of Girl Meets World after their usual Wednesday table read, sitting down with them at Topanga’s (yes, the real-life bakery set!) on the loveseats next to some delicious-looking muffin props. We delved straight into the heart of the show: the cast’s undeniable chemistry.
“Now in Season 3, we’ve got this group of 6 friends: Riley, Maya, Lucas, Farkle, Zay and Smackle,” said Sabrina Carpenter. “We feel like ourselves. We feel like we’re that group of friends. The fact that we can laugh at each other and with each other creates not only energy, but also magic and chemistry—hopefully something special for the audience to watch.”
Rowan Blanchard agreed, explaining that although actors should certainly be able to manifest friendships on-screen, it is more genuine with true chemistry on set. However, Carpenter revealed that it can be hard to hold in laughter with such high energy in the room.
“It depends on the day. It depends if we’ve had caffeine or sleep,” laughed Carpenter. “It is very fun and sometimes it’s hard to keep a straight face.”
Girl Meets World has covered a wide spectrum of themes, from bullying to autism to growth to young love—but at the core of it all is still friendship.
“It was very important to me that the show didn’t become a triangle,” said Blanchard. “That would become exhausting for me. At the end of the day, we want it to be about Riley and Maya’s friendship.”
Like the audience, Blanchard and Carpenter have both, in a way, grown up with the show. Unlike us, however, their transformation is captured on camera for decades to come.
“Corey [Fogelmanis] who plays Farkle—he’s so horrified at the turtlenecks and those years,” Carpenter said, describing her co-star’s earlier character development. “When we started, we were getting into our characters. We weren’t quite comfortable, so our hair was the size of Dolly Parton’s and our clothes were probably a little too sparkly. But it just shows you how much we’ve grown and that we’re all a lot more comfortable in the shoes of our characters.”
As the writers began to tailor the characters to the actors, Carpenter and Blanchard also had opportunities to bring their perspectives as teenagers to the table.
“Ever since the pilot, we were told that if we have anything to share, our ideas are always welcome,” explained Carpenter. “It’s a matter of knowing we have a voice here, that this is our environment right now to mess up and to make mistakes, because in a couple years we’ll be off on our own doing different things. This is our safe haven right now. It’s a place to figure all that stuff out.”
And it’s also a place to do some of the wackiest things, such as full-out paint fights in Season 1 and Season 3. Though it didn’t bode too well the first time (the paint wasn’t washable, leaving Carpenter’s hair red for a good week), Blanchard said she always enjoys the paint fights.
“We both work well under pressure so when there’s an added pressure of one take, it makes it that much better. It’s harder because you have to get all your lines down exactly the way you want it. At the same time it’s a good thing as an actor because I want to feel like I’m discovering everything in the moment,” said Blanchard.
The paint fights work much like theater—one take, one chance to get it right. It’s been half a year since Carpenter’s on-stage debut as Wendy in Pasadena Playhouse’s production of “Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirate’s Christmas,” yet the experience has still stayed with her and fellow GMW cast members Corey Fogelmanis and August Maturo.
“I will say this… that theater is the most difficult thing. It is the biggest challenge you’ll ever have as an actor. We have a small taste of it doing the live tapings every Tuesday, but of course it doesn’t involve specific musical elements or choreographed dance numbers,” said Carpenter. “Theater was something that I was very excited to do for the first time and it only made me want to do it more. It really works out your mind—you have to be juggling so many things at once and it makes us even stronger here. It helps our comedy and to be on top of things.”
Speaking of music, Carpenter finished up our interview to not to take the day off, but to go and work on her sophomore album—a project she’s been working on every single day since August.
“I’m so excited because it’s very different from the first one and there’s so much evolution in this album,” said Carpenter. “I’ve learned so much more about music and life.”
As Carpenter passionately advances her music career as the next big thing, Blanchard continues to be the activist she always has been ever since her big break. At the age of 12, she began associating herself with feminism after she was catcalled by a stranger while she was out with her friends.
“Being in the business—there’s such an ugly side to it, like straight up objectification and girls playing very sexual roles at young ages,” reflected Blanchard. “I think it was important for me to speak out about it partially as a teenager growing up but also as somebody who is a girl in the business.”
However, the problem has not disappeared. Blanchard told me she had been catcalled again quite recently.
“I’ve spoken out about it and I still don’t know how to deal with it. All I did on Saturday was flip him off,” she said. “I think it’s important to talk to your girlfriends about it. Ask them what they’ve done in those situations. Chances are 90% that they’ve been catcalled… Girls aren’t responsible for finding a way not to get catcalled. It’s more about the culture that surrounds it and men realizing that they can’t catcall people. Start that conversation and extend it between you and your girlfriends—and also between you and guy friends. It’s not your job to educate them but it can help further the conversation.”
Catch Girl Meets World on Disney Channel at 8:30 p.m.