Alright, so, we're a few episodes into Girl Meets World now, and I feel that's shown me enough to come to a few conclusions about the show. It gets a lot of things right, but at least one very troubling thing wrong.
I'll leave singing the show's praises for everything it gets right to other people. And there IS a lot to the show that's good, even great. I want to talk about Farkle here, because Farkle is EXTREMELY problematic.
Farkle is the show's one lone Outdated Stereotype. All the other main characters do a pretty good job of not fitting into a cookie cutter, with the slight exception of Ben Savage veering occasionally into "Hollywood Overprotective Father". But Farkle is a throwback.
Farkle, you see, is the stereotypical "eccentric nerdy lech". He's a boy in Riley's (the Protagonist) class, who is very oddball, weird, nerdy/geeky, and borderline stalkery. The only thing he's missing for the full package is thick taped glasses and a snort laugh.
Farkle has a Stalkery Crush on both Riley and her best friend, frequently and rather arrogantly propositions them to date him/be his girlfriends, and never accepts their rejection as serious. He constantly leers at them and behaves as if by being Farkle (the smart one), he is somehow entitled to their affection and that they will inevitably say yes to him if he refuses to give up trying. Their telling him no has no effect on his resolve, except perhaps to strengthen it.
This behaviour in and of itself is bad enough. The primary audience for this show outside of nostalgic adults who loved it's 90's predecessor Boy Meets World, is pre-teen boys and girls. And that's where the biggest issue I have with Farkle's inappropriate relentless stalkery behaviour lies.
You see Riley's father, played by Ben Savage, (Corey from Boy Meets World all grown up), is RILEY'S TEACHER AT SCHOOL.
That means every day he directly witnesses Farkle bordering on pre-teen sexual harassment towards his daughter and her best friend.
AND HE SAYS NOTHING.
In the 4 episodes that have aired thus far, more than one adult has witnessed Farkle acting in ways towards girls that could legitimately get an adult man slapped or possibly even arrested, adamantly refusing to respect their wishes and stop harassing them for a relationship neither of them want to have with him, and generally be an entitled little shit, and NOT ONE ADULT has told him this behaviour is not okay.
Farkle has done this even in Riley's apartment, in front of her bloody MOTHER, and even SHE has not admonished him for it in even the tiniest way. The adults seem to find his behaviour amusing. Not ONE of them has thus far pulled him aside to talk to him about boundaries and respect.
And the takeaway a LOT of the kids in the audience are going to get from this is that this behaviour is perfectly okay, because even though the girls keep rejecting him, the adults never tell him he's being bad.
For all the awesome stuff the show gets right, (from showing the "bad girl rebel" wanting to do right and be better and just struggling to cope with divorce issues in her family, to the Mom having a good career as a lawyer, to the new kid from Texas defying "Dumb Southerner" stereotypes and subverting him by cheerfully and blatantly pretending to play along with the girl who teases him with said stereotypes because him playing along ruins the joke for her), this one thing that it gets so infuriatingly wrong threatens to overshadow all the good.
Because when it comes right down to it, despite this being ostensibly a Kids Show? This one character and the refusal of the adult characters to deal with his creepy behaviour is reinforcing Rape Culture. And that is something that Disney seriously needs to address and correct.
Because it's 20-effing-14 now, and I shouldn't have to be explaining to my nieces and nephew why the way Farkle behaves is wrong, and why the adults should be talking to him about it.