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Monday, September 12, 2016

Riley and Farkle's Scrapbook: A Girl Meets World Theory

Farkle and Riley have been friends since childhood. Both are unique in their own way, and usually they celebrate that, but there are times when Riley and Farkle are not confident with who they are. Whether these two realize it or not, they share a deep connection based on their response to emotions. 

When we first meet Riley, she's trying to be like Maya. She tells Maya, "What I forgot to mention is that I'm completely reinventing myself... I'm just as cool as you now." 
Throughout the episode, Riley follows Maya's lead, but that's just at school right? Well . . .
When Riley gets home from school, and Cory and Topanga ask her why she's trying to be Maya, she responds with "How important is it that you don't know me at all?" 
She's clearly frustrated with the image that her parents have of her, and she questions it. 
She asks herself "Is this who I'm going to be for the rest of my life?" And she questions whether she will ever break free of the image she has gained. 
So, who do people think Riley is? Well, that's where Farkle comes in: 
"Riley is the sun, warm and bright and lights up my whole day." 
So there's one element of "Riley" 
The other is "good girl" as Cory and Topanga point out, but there's one more.
So "Riley" is defined as someone who is "sunny", good and just like Cory. But how does she feel about that? She's trying to be Maya. Maya got the "cool" role. She's "night" and Riley wants to be cool. Why? 
Riley tells us in Yearbook that she has a dark side. A side of her that no one really acknowledges because they assume she will be "Smiley Riley" all the time. So Riley's emotions, particularly the negative ones like sadness and anger are often suppressed because she feels like she has to live up to that identity. 
Who else is like this? 
Farkle. How is Farkle viewed in this story? 
Okay. Farkle is a scientist. He's smart, answers practically every question and he's Stuart Minkus's son. 
That's fine for him, until he gets bullied in Flaws, and called nothing. That statement really got to him. I wonder why? 
Farkle is known as "Canada" throughout the series. He's taken advantage of, at times ignored, but he's always there for Riley and Maya. 
So, how does Farkle feel about his role? 
When the girls first meet Farkle, he's embarassed to tell them his name, and he tells them not to laugh. Judging by his behavior in Bay Window, he is constantly ridiculed by his name and the "role" he has to play as the "Minkus" of the story. 
He's also not sure if he's a robot or human. And he's not exactly comfortable with emotions. So Farkle doesn't really enjoy the image that people have given him either, but how does he view himself? 
He's his own worst critic. That's not very encouraging. So Farkle and Riley can both relate in the fact that they want to change who they are. So, how do they cope with that? Well, they are whoever anyone wants them to be. 
When Riley tells Farkle that he's the best actor in middle school, he completely changes his identity. He's pretty happy with his new role, until he learns it's a lie, but he still thanks Riley for helping him believe in himself. 
When Farkle tells Riley that she's popular with his friends, Riley changes who she is, and she's happy with the new role that he's given her, until she realizes that it's a lie also. 
Both Riley and Farkle react in the same way, because both are not happy with the roles they've been given in their story so far. 
This scene in Yearbook, right before Farkle changes into Donnie Barnes is very informative. We see that both Riley and Farkle really care what people think about them, and they're upset. Why are they upset? 
And why would that hurt? Because both Riley and Farkle have been bullied, and neither feel like they can escape the box that they've been put in by the people around them. This is why Farkle "Changes' into Donnie Barnes, a cool guy, and Riley "changes" into a cool goth girl. 
So why do they change? What is their motivation?
Both Riley and Farkle want to "change the game". They don't want to be seen in the images they currently identify with. But it's a little more complicated than that. Both are repressing their emotions, how they really feel, in order to maintain the image that they have created. 
Neither Farkle nor Riley feel loved and accepted in their lives. They both feel like they have to play a certain role in order to get attention or be taken seriously. They have this in common because both are neglected in similar ways. Riley has been emotionally neglected, because she is expected to be happy and naive all the time. Farkle is neglected at home, and his parents compinsate with "money and penguins." Farkle is also taken advantage of and ignored often, which is why he continues to grow frustrated with his current role in the story. 
Despite the fact that Farkle and Riley constantly change who they are, they always accept who each other decide to be. 
Farkle knows who Riley really is. 
Riley knows who Farkle really is. 
But they also accept whatever versions of eachother that they have chosen to be. 
Although they have been many different people throughout the series, each person that they have been still has value to both of them. 
All these different personas bring Riley and Farkle one step closer to learning who they are. "Because who you are isn't based on today or tomorrow, but a whole bunch of days of what you do." - Jexica

Both of them can recognize the desire to be accepted for who they are, and that connects them in a very powerful way.

But despite that recognition: 
Neither Farkle nor Riley have the confidence that they will break free and write their own stories. But they're getting there. First, they need to accept and acknowledge their emotions, and how they truly feel. But I believe they will get there, because they are closer than they think they are. 
They're already writing their own story, together.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Logic versus Emotions: A Girl Meets World Theory

Farkle has been friends with Riley and Maya since he was little, and he's been in love with Riley since the first grade, but he's equally in love with Maya. 
There's a question that's been hanging over his head for awhile: Is he a robot or a real boy? 

He calls Riley "Day" and Maya "Night". He's "The biggest flirt in the seventh grade" and he's always there for Riley and Maya when they need him. 
So who is Farkle? How does he really feel? 

This theory explores Farkle's personality, his choices and how he truly feels. 
Prepare yourselves: This one's rough. 
We'll start with the day Farkle introduces himself to Riley and Maya: 

Farkle sees Riley and Maya at a Halloween party, and he saves Riley's life by helping her out of the apple bowl while she's bobbing for apples. She's flattered by this and asks what she can do to repay him. When Riley says that she's not smart, Farkle explains that Riley and Maya could use a friend like him, because he promises to love them both the same. Riley asks what if he married one of them, and he replies with the same answer, "both of you the same." 
It's a sweet promise, but what he says next implies how he actually feels about himself: 

What he says suggests that he has to be used, because he is smart. Sadly, this idea comes from Farkle's home life. 

Education matters to Farkle. He celebrates his seven hundredth "A" in Girl Meets Father. 

Farkle is the son of Stuart Minkus, who loved Topanga ( and possibly has never gotten over that) 

We see a hint of this in Girl Meets Maya's Mom, when Topanga and Stuart compete with each other. 

Money matters a lot to Farkle, just like it matters to Stuart Minkus. In Crazy Hat and Friendship, we see how far Farkle will go to "give the people what they want." 

But where did he did get that idea? 

Well, in Girl Meets The New World, Farkle gives us a hint: 

Farkle's mother is Jennifer Basset. We get a glimpse of his parents' relationship in I Am Farkle. 

This episode is also when Farkle learns that he is a real boy, a moment that means the world to him. 

But Girl Meets Money makes it abundantly clear just how lonely Farkle is, despite his parents' money and success. 
This theme is repeated throughout the show. Money isn't everything. 

So, with that background in mind, here's Farkle, trying to win a girl's affection and getting constantly rejected. But which girl? He loves Riley and Maya both the same, right? But who does he pursue first every time? Riley. 
Okay, so every time Farkle pursues Riley, what happens? 
She rejects him or Maya stops Riley from saying yes.
I can only imagine how that would make a boy in love feel :( 

Not to mention, Farkle doesn't feel like he's part of the story: 

Then in Girl Meets Flaws, Farkle gets bullied. How does he respond to this? 
Despite winning the confidence award, Farkle hides out, until Riley convinces him otherwise.
The whole class joins in. He is touched by their concern. 

In Girl Meets Farkle's Choice, we see a significant difference in how Farkle treats Riley, and how he treats Maya. 

But how do they treat him most of the time? They take him for granted. :( 

Constant rejection, and constant indifference. Despite Farkle's failed attempts, he still pursues the girl. 

Okay, but why doesn't Farkle step up and say anything? Remember the pilot episode?
Farkle doesn't like fighting. I wonder why? 

When Lucas enters the picture, Farkle begins a war within himself. 
Think about it: he loves this girl. She rejects him. She's pursuing someone else. 
But the moment this struggle becomes clear to the audience is Girl Meets First Date. 
I think this is the moment Farkle could no longer convince himself that he loved Riley and Maya the same. 
Before anything happens, Farkle has a very logical conversation with Lucas: 
He believes that he's solved his problem. Then Maya asks Lucas out, and Farkle looks really happy to be with Riley, but he's also a very observant person. 

He notices Riley's reaction, still he stays confident. 
But by the time he arrives: it's too late. 
This is where the writers attempt to distract their audience. They have this "comical" scene between Maya and Cory, where Cory forces Maya to go out with Farkle in order for Riley to date Lucas. So how does Farkle feel? Take a look: 
Crushed would be my guess. Still, he puts on the act, becomes "the flirt" with Maya and proceeds to go along with this. 
But during their date? He stares at Riley quite a bit, kisses Maya's hand, and when she's impressed, he says, "Tell your friends." 
You mean Riley? 
So now the kids are teasing each other about relationships, and Farkle thinks he's got to move fast. He takes his mother's ring and gives it to Maya. But, when he learns why she took the ring, well :( 

So Farkle's starting to get upset now, but he holds that back. Lucas is his friend, right?  He believes in peace. Time to ignore feelings and focus on logic. 
But he doesn't succeed. On several ocassions, Farkle bursts out with anger and frustration. We learn why in Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels. 
He bursts out that he feels bad because of Lucas, but again his outburst is ignored. 
So now he's cynical, passive and playing the part. :( 
It's not until Girl Meets Pluto that Farkle begins to hope again. And what does he put in the time capsule? 

What does he say? 
So, now Farkle believes that maybe, just maybe those feelings would be returned. Because Riley was there for him. 
But throughout season two, what happens? Lots of distractions. Riley is pulled away from him, blows him off and focuses on Lucas. 
Yearbook comes next, where Farkle completely changes who he is: 
Then, in Girl Meets I Am Farkle, he goes through a major scare. All he wants is support from his friends and . . .
So Riley and Maya push him toward Smackle. And Smackle accepts Farkle for who he is, despite the possibility that he could be different. This is new to Farkle. 
Farkle "divorces" Riley and Maya, because he knows that their marriages to him aren't real. He decides to pursue a real relationship with Smackle, and go figure out love. 

Then, Riley gets bullied. Farkle is the first to notice. He says something pretty interesting as he explains Riley's behavior to Maya: 

He's also very supportive of Riley in Girl Meets Rah Rah. 
Then, Farkle and Riley have a very intense argument in Stem. They learn how to work together as a team. And both learn something important. 
Then Girl Meets Texas happens. It's all about Lucas. Farkle feels left out, and he shows it in an interesting way: 

 Farkle also becomes confused again. Why? Well . . .
That sounds like a date, right? But Farkle has a girlfriend now, and Riley's more focused on what's going on with Maya and Lucas than how Farkle feels at that moment. 
Then Farkle learns how Riley actually feels. 
What Farkle says about feelings here is very important.
But then Riley says that she loves him. 
And he says it back. 
Platonic or not, Farkle's face says it all as Riley leaves for her date. 
Farkle doesn't want anyone to get hurt, but he can't watch Riley suffer. He cares for her too much. He'll do anything for Riley, as he's proven time and time again. 
He reveals Riley's feelings, just like Riley revealed Maya's in Texas. 
Then Riley calls Farkle handsome in Bay Window, which flatters him and confuses him again. 
And he is rejected again. 
He's pretty confused at that point, and it appears logic won't give him an answer. All evidence he gathered points to the possibility that Riley loves him, but she continues to reject him. That's why he asks Mr. Norton an important question: 
By the time High School rolls around, Farkle has no idea what's going on anymore, with High School or his feelings. 
Then Riley says: 
And the triangle begins. 
By now, Farkle has had it. He blows up a few times. 
But in Upstate, Farkle has lost all hope that Riley could ever be with him. He sees her reaction to Lucas supposedly choosing her, and that's when Farkle goes from anger to sadness. 
He explodes again in Girl Meets True Maya, while Riley is talking about how "charming" Lucas is.

He tells Riley he's dead inside. 
He notices Smackle flirting with other guys: 
He asks Topanga if he's growing right. 
He's lost all sense of who he used to be, because the girls took advantage of him. It's no wonder Farkle is struggling. 
He's trying to hold back all his emotions in favor of peace, but feelings must be acknowledged, and  . . . 

Mt. Farkleuvious is going to blow, because Farkle needs to vent. He's held back all this for too long. 
Riley needs to save her hero. 

And because history repeats, I believe she will.