|“||Don't let your history be one of missed opportunities. Learn from the past.||”|
—Cory to his class
OverviewCory gives the class a living-history assignment that takes the four friends back to New York City in 1961.
Cory attempts to get his class excited about the 1960s, but nobody seems interested, so he decides to let his class teach themselves, by having them research their ancestors who lived during that time, which Cory dubs "living history."
December 14, 1961
Carrying her journal under her arm, Rosie McGee (Riley) arrives at a local Greenwich Village hangout called Café Hey. As it's her first time in the cafe, she meets Ginsburg (Farkle), a beatnik/bartender who digs Rosie's vibe "immedia-tois." Following his stage performance, Ginsburg directs Rosie's attention first to Bob Dylan and Joan Baez sitting (unseen to the viewer) at a nearby table, and then to another new customer, a blonde wearing a crown of flowers around her head (Maya) sitting alone at a different table. Ginsburg lets Rosie choose who she wants to sit with, so she decides to sit with "The Girl with the Long Blonde Hair", who identifies herself as May Clutterbucket.
Rosie and May seem to hit it off, and May notes that Rosie is an observer, and thinks it makes her weird. She then snatches Rosie's journal and notices a new entry called, "The Girl With the Long Blonde Hair"; when Rosie asks about May's current plans, May replies that she was going to an art gathering in Topanga Canyon, California when the bus she was riding in broke down. Rosie then writes in her journal, "Topanga-- what a beautiful name for something you want to love", inspiring the name of her granddaughter.
May performs her song on stage, and is then followed by a mysterious man in black, who introduces himself as Merlin Scoggins (Lucas) as he begins his song. After his performance, he briefly gets acquainted with Rosie and May, and Ginsburg seizes on the opportunity to photograph the three sitting together at the table, noting that this moment could mean something to someone in the future. Rosie becomes somewhat smitten with Merlin, but May develops an inferiority complex after Merlin's song and believes that she could never be as good as him. After Merlin leaves, May tells Rosie that she is giving up her musical dreams and gives Rosie her guitar, and then gets up to leave, but tells Rosie she'll be right back. Rosie continues writing in her journal as she waits, but May never returns.
The four friends gather at Svorski's to present their findings so far. Riley reveals that she found Rosie's guitar and "very weird" journal; Lucas mentions his great-grandfather, but all Lucas knows about him is that his name was Merlin as his family doesn't talk about him much. Farkle then reveals his great-grandfather's name was Ginsburg. Maya peruses an art book given to her by Ms. Kossal, and feels that she'll never be good as the artists in the book because they all had something to say. Lucas tells her that it's only because they went ahead and said what they had to say. Farkle takes an opportunity to photograph Riley, Maya, and Lucas, stating that the moment may one day mean something to somebody. The group gets up to leave, and Maya leaves the art book behind despite Riley's protests.
Riley and Lucas present their findings the next day in Cory's class:
- Lucas plays a record that Merlin recorded, which became a big hit- his only hit. Lucas then reveals that Merlin may have needed better friends, because after his Café Hey appearance, he got into trouble with the law ("he went left instead of right") and wound up doing jail time, which would explain why Lucas' family never talks about him.
- Riley discusses Rosie's journal and reads aloud her entry about May which Rosie called "The Girl With the Long Blonde Hair", to which Riley herself added notes directed at Maya. She then gives Maya the guitar that once belonged to May Clutterbucket in the hope that she won't give up on her dreams like May did. Maya is immediately inspired to make up a parody song about Merlin and Lucas, which everyone, even Lucas, takes to singing along with her while Riley improvises a crazy dance:
|“|| I got a great grandson |
who's a Ranger Rick,
and a Hopalong,
and a Sundance, too..
—Maya singing and playing the guitar Riley gave her
At home, Riley shows Topanga the contents of Rosie's journal, directing her to the entry regarding Topanga's name. Meanwhile, Maya returns to Svorski's to retrieve the art book and finds a note inside from Riley imploring her to change the world with her art.
The next day in class, Farkle presents his findings: he asks Riley and Lucas for the month and year their great-grandparents visited New York; to each other's surprise they both give the exact same answer: December 1961. Farkle then asks Maya what she learned about her great grandmother; Maya is initially evasive, but Farkle forces her to admit that her great grandmother was May Clutterbucket, which amuses Lucas. Their great-grandparents (Rosie, May, Merlin and Ginsburg) all met in the same place on the same night, but when Riley asks why Maya didn't tell her, Maya replies she is embarrassed by the name Clutterbucket, but also ashamed of being descended from people who gave up. Cory entreats Maya to change history, and points out that just because May gave up on her dreams doesn't mean that Maya should. Farkle then turns on the TV screen and shows Ginsburg's photograph of Rosie, May, and Merlin at Café Hey in 1961, which fades into Farkle's very similar photograph of Lucas, Riley and Maya in present-day Svorski's.
The episode ends the next morning in Cory's class; he comes in to set up and finds Riley, Maya, Lucas, and Farkle already there and waiting. Now showing an interest in history, they all want to know where they will be going next. Cory quotes an excerpt of Martin Luther King Jr.'s landmark "I Have A Dream" speech, telling the four that they will be learning about 1963...
- Rowan Blanchard as Riley Matthews/Rosie McGee
- Ben Savage as Cory Matthews
- Sabrina Carpenter as Maya Hart/May Clutterbucket
- Peyton Meyer as Lucas Friar/Merlin Scoggins
- Danielle Fishel as Topanga Matthews (minor role)
Cory: The '60s, man! Influential musicians like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez! Playin' guitars and singin' like prophets! The times, they were a' changin'!
Farkle: The class! They are a' sleepin'.
Riley: I-it's not your fault, Dad. It's just the stuff you're saying.
Rosie: Have we met before?
Maya: I don't want to be a Clutterbucket.
Riley: You're not. You're all Hart.
- This episode was scored by musician and composer Ray Colcord, who died in February 2016. Colcord also scored many episodes of the original Boy Meets World, and even composed BMW's theme song.
- This episode is the first of two directed by Rider Strong (who played Shawn Hunter in Boy Meets World) for season 1. The other was Girl Meets First Date. Shawn Hunter later made his first GMW appearance in "Girl Meets Home for the Holidays".
- This was Rowan Blanchard's favorite episode to shoot.
- We learned about Topanga's family history in this episode, particularly the mother of Rhiannon/Chloe, and how Topanga got her name; she appears very briefly near the end of this episode.
- When Riley gave Rosie's guitar to Maya, she was not yet aware that Maya was a descendant of the Clutterbucket family, and therefore May's great granddaughter.
- It's implied that Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were also in the cafe on December 14, 1961.
- Merlin's mysterious "Man In Black" persona is a tribute to country music legend Johnny Cash, who by the mid-1960s had taken to wearing all-black outfits (albeit without a hat) on and off stage, and also to opening his shows with "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", which became his signature greeting. The surname of Scoggins could have been a tribute to Jerry Scoggins, who sang the opening and closing theme to the classic TV series The Beverly Hillbillies (also known as "The Ballad of Jed Clampett"), which debuted in September 1962.
- Judging from the lyrics, Merlin's song might have been called "(Hey Mister, Brother, Sister) Can You Spare A Man Some Change?". May's song might have been called "Missing You, Missing Me".
- We learn about the main characters' respective family histories.
- Riley learns that Rosie was very similar to herself, in that Rosie also saw good in people.
- It has been implied that December 14 is Alan Matthews' birthday.
- It was implied that Lucas's father is still living in Texas, though in Girl Meets the Secret of Life, Zay reveals that Lucas' father had been transferred to New York like his own father.
- In the beginning of the episode, the class (including Maya) is completely disinterested in learning about the culture of the 60's, even though Maya is wearing a Rolling Stones T-shirt.
- Farkle claims that he has discovered time travel. His father may have also briefly discovered it when he was Farkle's age.
- Two of Maya's nicknames for Lucas are pop culture references; "Bucky McBoing-Boing" references the Dr. Seuss book "Gerald McBoing-Boing" and "Ranger Rick" is also the name of a kids' nature magazine.
- Sarah Carpenter appeared in the 1961 scene as an unnamed Café Hey patron.
- "Café Hey" is based on the real-life "Café Wha?," a popular beatnik café in Greenwich Village during the late-1950's and early-1960's.
- The episode was nominated for a Writer's Guild of America award for Children's Script - Episodic & Specials.
- This episode was teased on the writer's Twitter.
- September 26, 2014 (Canada)
- October 13, 2014 (Australia)
- October 24, 2014 (UK & Ireland)
- December 27, 2014 (Czech Republic, Hungary, Middle East, Africa)
- December 28, 2014 (Romania, Bulgaria)
- December 30, 2014 (Latin America, Brazil)
- February 1, 2015 (Italy)
- February 7, 2015 (Poland)
- February 19, 2015 (Israel)
- May 21, 2015 (Germany)
- August 16, 2016 (Philippines)
| The image gallery for Girl Meets 1961 may be viewed here.
| To view the Girl Meets 1961 transcript, click here.