|“||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 and 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 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".
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 entitled, "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 gets acquainted with Rosie and May, and Ginsburg seizes the chance to photograph the three 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 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 in jail for a time, which would explain why Lucas' family never talks about him.
- Riley discusses the contents of Rosie's journal and reads aloud her entry about May which she 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 |
whose 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, and Topanga is directed to the entry regarding her name. Maya returns to the bakery to retrieve the art book. Inside she finds a note from Riley telling her to change the world with her art.
The next day in class, Farkle presents his findings: he asks Riley and Lucas for the year and month their great-grandparents visited New York; to each other's surprise they both give the exact same answer: December 1961. Maya is initialy evasive, but Farkle forces her to admit that she is descended from May Clutterbucket, which amuses Lucas. Their great-grandparents (Rosie, May and Merlin) all met in the same place on the same day, but when Riley wonders aloud why Maya didn't tell her, Maya says she was ashamed of being descended from people who gave up. Cory entreats Maya to change history, noting that Maya shouldn't give up on her own dreams just because May did. Farkle turns on the TV screen; Ginsburg's photograph of Rosie, May, and Merlin at Cafe Hey in 1961 is displayed, then fades into Farkle's very similar photograph of Lucas, Riley and Maya in present-day Svorski's.
At the end of the episode, Cory arrives in his classroom the next morning before class to set up, but finds Riley, Maya, Lucas, and Farkle already there and waiting. Now with more interest in history, they all want to know where they will be going next. Cory quotes an excerpt of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "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.
- August Maturo (Auggie Matthews) does not appear in this episode.
- 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 will be in "Girl Meets Home for the Holidays" and "Girl Meets Master Plan.", and Girl Meets Pluto.
- 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.
- It's implied that Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were also in the cafe on December 14, 1961.
- We also learned how Topanga got her first name in this episode.
- Merlin's mysterious "Man In Black" persona pays tribute to country music legend Johnny Cash, who by the mid-1960s had taken to wearing all-black outfits (without a hat) on and off stage, and also to opening his shows with "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", which became his signature greeting.
- We learn about the main characters' respective family histories.
- It's revealed that Riley's great grandmother Rosie saw good in people, like Riley does now.
- It has been implied that December 14 is Alan Matthews' birthday.
- It was implied that Lucas's father is still living in Texas.
- In the beginning of the episode, the class (including Maya) is opposed to learning about the 1960's, including its music. Yet Maya is wearing a shirt that likely promotes a Rolling Stones tour.
- Topanga has a minor role in this episode only appearing in less than three minutes.
- 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.
- Beyond playing Sarah, Sarah Carpenter also played 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.