Season 1, Episode 4 – Cory’s Alternative Friends
Episode Summary: Shawn and Cory get split up from doing a project together, making Shawn work with Minkus and Cory with Topanga. Cory overhears girls making fun of his hair and decides to change it.
This week, we find our favorite boy meeting the world, his best friend, and crew in Feeny’s classroom presenting group projects. After the future star of The Practice presents a riveting biodegradable products presentation, Cory and Shawn present a passionate if misguided project on air pollution in Denver compared to Philly and how that makes the expansion team Colorado Rockies average four more runs a game than the pathetic Phillies. (Ah… those were the days!)
Upon their completion of their terrible project, Feeny gives them one more chance, but splits them up into two groups. First, there’s Shawn and Minkus. Then, there’s Cory and young, hippie Topanga Lawrence.
You see, dear readers, from the moment Topanga asks to see Cory’s hand to see if their energies converge, we realize that this Hall-of-Fame lovers duo was first brought together by George Feeny. Matchmaker Extraordinaire.
Topanga’s response: He’s vibrationally acceptable.
Hm. I’m going to let that quote speak for itself. Prophetic? I’ll let you, dear reader, decide.
Cory overhears some “popular” girls talking about his hair. He begins to become very sensitive concerning his curly hair. Topanga then approaches Cory, referring to her father by his first name. All of a sudden, Cory and the audience realizes Topanga’s progressive, activist nature. It’s also revealed that both Minkus and Topanga sit at the weirdo table that is like “the cast of the Addams Family.”
Later, when working on their project, Cory suggests a simplistic approach: There’s a hole in the ozone layer. Wear a baseball cap.
Topanga replies with her own approach of performance art.
Fledgling love never looked so wonderful. Cory and Topanga have a discussion concerning letting what other people think affect you, karma, blending in, being unique, and whether Topanga will shave her legs later in life. Topanga also drops the line, “If [the baseball cap's] important to you, then it’s beautiful,” which prompts the first-ever invisible audience “Awwww…” She also calls Cory’s hair beautiful like a desert tumbleweed.
Like I said, fledgling love…
After Cory and Shawn’s failed effort to straighten his hair turn his hair into a mop of dark, shaggy, Beatles-like hairdo. Cory ends up at school the next day with his baseball cap on. After Feeny denies Cory his plea to Feeny’s humanity with the line, “Too many years with sixth graders has bled me of my humanity,” Cory takes the cap off and gets laughed at by the whole class. Cory tells Topanga to go ahead and laugh.
Her response: Your hair looks different. Why would I laugh?
In the cafeteria, when Shawn et al. are making fun of Cory, Topanga offers him a seat at the “weird” table. When Mary-Beth Pepperton from Hang Time walks up frustrated at the lack of signatures on the petition to help Ms. Rosemeade, the old study hall lady, from getting fired, Cory begins to offer some advice. To get the other kids to sign the petition/sell their idea, Cory says you need to know your buyer. (I.e. kids that watch Beavis and Butthead instead of anything with Angela Lansbury) (And yes, Beavis and Butthead mention got a “WHOO” from that imaginary audience.)
After Cory’s attempt to curl his hair back with curlers turns his hair into Troll-doll hair, he reports to school where they create a handcuff-chain-fence blocking students from leaving school on Friday. Cory then tells the kids they need to sign the petition, and they’ll move. Cory appeals to keeping the older study-hall lady because they can walk over her more.
Cory, with his Don King hair, stands in awe that he convinced everyone to sign the petition.
Topanga: Sometimes the reluctant warrior is the bravest warrior.
Cory: You’re not going to kiss me now, are you?
Topanga: Would it be your first kiss?
Cory: Hey! Don’t come near me!
Topanga: Because it would be interesting if all your life you remembered that your first kiss happened when you thought you looked weird.
Cory: No it wouldn’t be interesting. Get away.
Topanga: Because then you know that it’s not what you look like on the outside that matters. It’s what kind of person you are.
Cory: You shouldn’t kiss somebody you’re not married to.
Topanga: Hm. Yeah. I would have to feel I really knew the person and that I liked him.
THEN IT HAPPENS! She pins him up against the lockers and kisses him. That invisible audience hoops and hollers.
Topanga: It was my first one too.
Then she smirks and he’s dumbfounded in a way that can only be recognized by watching it yourself below.
During the credits’ epilogue, Cory realizes that the popular girls weren’t even talking about him at the beginning of the show and Topanga says that there’s always room for him at their table. She also puts on a Phillies cap that she’s purchased and her and Cory share a flirtatious glance.
So, dear reader, what wisdom did we get from Feeny this week?
Wait. This is odd. Other than learning that his many years with sixth graders has sapped him of his humanity (something we know is not true contrary to his exterior shell, see: last week’s Feeny Friday), there’s really no other great line of Feeny wisdom this week.
But shame on us for being so simple-minded and straight-forward! Looking closer, this is perhaps Feeny’s strongest episode yet. What else did we learn, other than Mary Beth Pepperton was not popular in middle school most likely because she was freakishly taller than all of her peers?
1) Feeny is a great teacher. While this is obvious, we see his teaching methods on full display in his upholding of high expectations without being completely heartless. He is honest in his feedback to Cory and Shawn (it stinks!), but gives them another chance, realizing the fault in his original instructions to let them pick their own partners.
2) Feeny is infinitely wise. Who else would think to pair Cory and Topanga together? Cory is an average student with a great heart but little desire to work hard. Topanga is an out-of-the-box child of hippies whose worldview is seemingly shaped by 1960s activists and faiths from the eastern hemisphere. But, from the start, there’s a spark. Without Feeny, this first chapter of what ultimately is one of the greatest romantic tales of our time, nay, all-time, may never have happened. True love for our middle-school protagonist’s future is at stake. And, as always, Feeny comes through in the clutch.
They don’t call him Fantastic Feeny for nothing.
Until next week, good readers, go forth and matchmake like Feeny. Take true love everywhere you go. Help the reluctant warrior become the bravest warrior. And don’t be afraid to, like Feeny and Peyton Manning, call an audible if the first call doesn’t work. You never know what will result.