Boy Meets World is a classic 90’s staple, allowing us to watch a young, goofy, lovable boy grow up into a mature adult. But often times this means watching as Cory Matthews experiences certain things for the first time: peer pressure, love, heartbreak. But in the true nature of this blog, let’s talk about Cory’s first experience with alcohol.
In season 5’s 18th episode “If You Can’t Be With The One You Love,” Cory drinks for the first time at a house party, in order to cope with his breakup with Topanga. While Boy Meets World can often be criticized for over-exaggerating the nature of the various conflicts that arise in Cory’s world, the show’s portrayal of a teen’s first experience with alcohol is pretty accurate. I may have been late to the party and not had my first drink until I got to college – far enough away from home that my parents couldn’t ground me for it – but most people experience their first drink during their early-to-mid teens (statistics from a Harvard study show that the average girl is 13 years old when she has her first drink). So, BMW got it right with the house party setting, as well as the uninhibited dancing and storytelling that ensues thereafter.
The show also nails it on the peer pressure mentality that goes hand-in-hand with teen drinking, because Cory goes over to Shawn at the party and convinces him to drink also. Shawn caves and tries it and the two proceed to commit drunken antics together like, for example, paying a homeless man to buy them more booze (which I may or may not be able to confirm first-hand as a realistic scenario).
It also briefly touches on alcohol dependency, and here I think is where the show starts to exaggerate a little. Cory is driven to drink to help address his sadness, fine. That’s okay. People do that all of the time in today’s society, regardless of whether they are a teen or a full-blown adult. But towards the episode’s climax, Shawn storms out of school after a fight with his teacher to go home and have a beer. Now, Shawn is a troubled teen with a deadbeat father and a mother who bailed on him, so kid clearly has emotional issues. But trying to address the issue of dependency through a teenager is a little bit of a stretch. I’m not saying the show tried to immediately turn Shawn into a full-blown alcoholic, but they try to set him on that path (so, of course, Cory could intervene and set him straight again). That, to me, is too much. I would have rather had them turn Shawn into a partier, rather than a budding alcohol-dependent. That would have been much more realistic considering Shawn’s age.
But while the main conflict for the episode is forcing it a little, the rest of the episode is pretty accurate in its depiction of teenagers experimenting with drinking.