During our adolescence, a proper role model is one of the essential components to growing up with a better understanding of the world and how to adapt to it. They shape our minds in ways that allow us to see others’ perspectives and points of views, to focus on our own goals and aspirations, and to pursue our own ideas of happiness relative to our experiences. They are the mirror to our futures, and they give us the ability to self-analyze our own values, thoughts, emotions, morals, and ideas in relation to what they have already achieved and experienced.
Even more important, is our developed ability to admit to ourselves when someone is not the role model we once thought them to be. It is just as essential to understand that the people in our lives that we aspire to be, may in fact be an illusion that we must eventually see through and stay clear of. They are an emperor wearing no clothes. They are, as some might say, “with the feds.” Ladies and gentlemen, George Hamilton Feeny, character on Boy Meets World, shaper of minds, role model to many, and distractingly close neighbor to a family with a distractingly large treehouse, is in fact “with the feds.”
I do understand the territory I may be crossing into as I write this down. It feels like blasphemy, but the history of the man many people my age looked up to has to be examined closer. You might not see it yet. I understand that this kind of claim can be very disorienting. Maybe it’s best to read this in a dark room somewhere, where you can cry upon finishing, because what we have in front of us is a daunting task.
Was Mr. Feeny That Successful of a Teacher?
Let’s admit it, people. We are addicted to Mr. Feeny, and when a person has an addiction the only real way to withdraw is through a program of steps taken to understand that what you are addicted to is only a reflection of your own damaged psyche. Step one: admitting to yourself that you don’t know how the fuck Mr. Feeny’s educational career happened. He’s an anomaly. Boy Meets World began with Mr. Feeny teaching 6th grade. I don’t know how well you remember your 6th grade year of school but I can tell you for certain that I had 4 different teachers each teaching me one of the core subjects throughout the day. Mr. Feeny didn’t play that bullshit; he taught ALL the classes.
Think about this for a second. How great of an education could you really have, at such a critical age, if you sat in the same room for 8 hours, had the same teacher (who also ran detention…) the entire time, and who lectured you on a wide range of subjects (ranging from quantum physics to archaeology) that always mysteriously linked to something happening in your life? Imagine for a second you’re in a history lesson, but you’re really distracted by the fact that the family of the girl you like doesn’t like your family, therefore you aren’t allowed to talk to each other except for in class. Now imagine, your teacher then decided to have a lecture about Romeo and Juliet. The day before your teacher was teaching you how to solve algebra equations. Does that sound a little familiar to Mr. Feeny’s curriculum? Thought so. Case closed.
Furthermore (case not closed), no one can accurately explain the career trajectory of a 6th grade teacher not only following and teaching the same students as they go into their weird 7th grade-12th grade school, but also becoming the motherfucking principal of this same school. This is the career equivalent to being a waiter at a restaurant who has regular customers, finding out those customers went to another restaurant, applied for a job at the new restaurant, and then the boss you interviewed with said, “you know what? How does restaurant manager sound like?”
The madness doesn’t end there, though, because Mr. Feeny then became a college professor at the same school Cory, Topanga, and Shawn all attended. Set aside the fact that it’s even the same school, folks. Think about how qualified of a teacher can he actually be if he’s part of an educational system that promotes people in the way that the Philadelphia educational system apparently does. My 6th grade teacher was Mrs. Morrison. She was an okay teacher, I had very few complaints. However, if I walked into my first college class on mid 19th century British Literature and Mrs. Morrison was standing there, I would probably realize pretty quickly I was not going to learn anything. Yet, Mr. Feeny conned his way to the top and used everyone below him to boost himself up; he’s the Disney Channel Walter White.
The Mr. Turner Situation
Towards the end of season five of Boy Meets World, one of the best characters in the history of modern civilization, Jonathan Turner (english teacher at John Adams High School) was in one of the great tragic events of our childhood; he was in a motorcycle accident on the show. This was the last time we ever saw Mr. Turner until apparently he reappeared on the spinoff to the original show, Girl Meets World. That explanation is bullshit, but that rests for another day, because at the core there stems an even bigger issue with how the characters reacted on the show. The best example of this inexplicable behavior comes from none other than Mr. Feeny.
Let me clarify. As Mr. Feeny became an employee at John Adams High School, he and Mr. Turner became close friends, sharing numerous experiences as role models to the core group of kids that we as an audience followed. They seemed to share many of the same values, but complimented each other in differing behaviors in regards to teaching. Mr. Feeny was more of the structured lecturer, where Mr. Turner was a rebel to the system even going as far as letting Shawn Hunter live with him during troubled years (again, another story in itself). One could say Mr. Feeny and Mr. Turner were good friends and close colleagues. That is, until the day we found out Mr. Feeny didn’t seem to care whether or not Mr. Turner died in his motorcycle accident.
Even as the last minutes of the show, many years later, counted down, Mr. Feeny never mentioned Mr. Turner’s name again after that, apparently, near-fatal accident. There were no hospital visits, no school bake sales to raise money for Mr. Turner’s recovery, or even a job for Mr. Turner upon recovery because humanity is beyond Mr. Feeny. We all hate to admit it, but he was a fair-weather friend. Mr. Feeny left Mr. Turner lying in that hospital bed for TV eternity, and didn’t even flinch, yet this is someone we as an audience are supposed to trust? Imagine Carlton was in an accident on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and then Uncle Phil never mentioned his son ever again. Oh you can’t imagine that? That’s because Uncle Phil cared about his loved ones.
Were the Kids he Mentored Even Successful?
Finally, the best way to unveil the house of cards that is Mr. Feeny’s career is to examine the lives that he apparently touched. Were these kids really that successful because of him? Take Eric Matthews, older brother of our main character Cory, for instance. At the end of the show, after all of Eric’s many encounters with Mr. Feeny, the only thing he was able to accomplish was going to live with Cory and Topanga in New York; he taught Eric how to be homeless, essentially. At one point, Eric, having no job, almost adopts a little boy named Tommy. HE ALMOST ADOPTS A KID WHILE HES BROKE. Yet, where is the accountability for Mr. Feeny? If his advice was so airtight, where was he when his next door neighbor decided to almost ruin a child’s life forever just because he needed some company (possibly an exaggeration but whatever)?
Also mooching off of Cory and Topanga’s mild success at the end of the show is Shawn Hunter, Cory’s best friend who also decides to move to New York. Apparently, the only way you can overcome your problems is to move to New York. You know, the place where nothing apparently costs anything. It’s also never established that Cory found a job in New York at the end of the show, but only left to support Topanga’s internship at a Law Firm.
So, just in case you aren’t keeping track, that’s four people moving to the most expensive place in the United States with an internship between the four of them to provide income, and Mr. Feeny just lets it happen. As the show concludes, it decides to also just skip past any further logic and has the cast reunite with George Feeny in his original classroom from the beginning of the show, because why not just commit breaking and entering while you’re at it?
The kids share what they learned from Mr. Feeny, about responsibility, family, love, and all kinds of other shit they probably don’t even realize they learned themselves. Mr. Feeny, the master manipulator that he apparently is, unsurprisingly accepts their gratitude for all that he taught, yet never faces his own demons.
We did not learn from Mr. Feeny, but rather we were shown the effects a person of power can have on those not capable of making it on their own. Most of us don’t want our childhood heroes to be ruined, but there comes a time where we must face the facts that lie in front of us; Mr. Feeny taught us that as long as you remained unqualified for the jobs you seek, never make any lasting friendships, never show or recognize any sort of response you may have to human connections, and ruined the steered the lives of the people, that looked up to you, into certain doom, you can achieve anything you want in life. Class dismissed.