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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.

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