In Girl Meets The Secret of Life, we learned that "people change people."
This goes both ways.
This episode was a lesson in influence.
I found a very interesting article on influence here, and I found an entire paragraph that sums up what influence is all about.
"Control over our lives is something we all want. But in a universe in which everything is mutually interdependent, none of us has absolute control over anything except ourselves (and even over ourselves our control is indirect and partial only). Instead, what we all have in abundance is influence, the power of which seems to function linearly: the closer personally and physically others are to us, the greater our influence over them, and vice versa. Even more interestingly, unlike our attempts to control, our attempts to influence don't require our conscious intent. Which is why our ability to influence others is so much more important that our ability to control them: we're always exerting influence simply by being who we are, saying what we say, and doing what we do. The only real choice we have in the matter is whether or not the influence we exert is good or bad."
There is positive influence and negative influence.
A positive influence is when someone inspires you to be the best version of you that you can be. (Usually by just being who they are)
A negative influence is when someone pressures you to do what they believe is best for you, but in reality it is not. (When they try to control you)
Warning: We're about to take a good hard look at Riley and Maya's relationship, and Farkle's promise to love them both the same.
These girls are best friends, and like sisters, but their influence on each other is too extreme.
It all starts with the Pilot.
Maya pushes Riley towards Lucas. This happens in the Pilot episode.
Why? Why does Maya do this? She wants Riley to be happy, and she believes that in order for Riley to "completely reinvent herself", she needs to take more risks. This repeats throughout the Pilot episode. Riley wants to be Maya, and she will do whatever Maya wants her to do.
Sometimes she resists, but usually Riley becomes convinced that what Maya wants for her is what she wants.
This is a negative influence.
Maya sees a cute boy on the subway. He appears to measure up to Maya's standards. She goes to him first, demonstrating the cycle of a relationship for Riley. Then, she pushes Riley towards him, because she believes that is what Riley wants.
Riley goes along with this, because she wants to be Maya.
But it's this one influence, and this one decision that creates a ripple effect. Riley begins to idealize Lucas, and she's convinced that a relationship with him will make her happy. Why? Because Maya said so.
Rley repeats throughout the pilot episode that she wants to be Maya, and this is really bad for Maya.
Cory tells Riley after Maya's "presentation" that Riley "missed the moment to stand by her girl"
He tells her, "You were so busy trying to be her, that you forgot that the best thing you can do for her is to be you."
But Riley continues to do this throughout the series. And in Girl Meets Triangle, she somehow convinces Maya that she has lost who she is.
But the actual issue is that Riley doesn't know who she is.
So, Riley allows Maya to influence her, because Riley doesn't want to be Riley.
Now, time to talk about Maya.
Let's take that same event, meeting Lucas on the subway, and look at the motivation behind Maya's actions.
Maya always gives Riley what she wants. Despite the fact that Maya is attracted to Lucas, she pushes Riley towards him, because she wants Riley to have the best. This may appear sweet to the average observer, but too much give is just as bad as not enough give.
Maya focuses on Riley more than she focuses on herself. She allows Riley to dictate what will happen, and she acts accordingly.
This dynamic goes all the way back to the moment Riley and Maya met. Maya constantly tells Riley- "Whatever you want."
Why? Because Maya is afraid that if she doesn't try to make people happy, they will leave.
Throughout the series, Maya allows Riley to get what she wants, and she even pushes Lucas towards Riley, even though she knows that Lucas chose her. She pushes herself aside.
This is a negative influence. Maya doesn't consider what she wants and what she needs. The relationship has no balance, because Maya constantly pushes herself aside. This is why she was convinced that she had lost who she was in Triangle and Upstate.
So this dynamic is unhealthy for Maya, and it doesn't benefit Riley because it encourages the fantasy Riley believes the world to be. But why is Maya doing this?
Now we come full circle. Now, we're going to talk about Farkle Minkus. Because his influence is key in the constant dynamic between Riley and Maya.
In the pilot we learn that to Farkle, Riley is "the sun" and Maya is "the night". He repeatedly states this throughout the show, and he constantly tells the girls that he loves them both the same.
But how does that effect the girls? Well, we know that Riley seeks approval and will be whoever people want her to be. And, we know that Maya will do whatever it takes to make people happy so they don't leave.
Of course, with those motivations, both Riley and Maya will act on Farkle's influence. They believe themselves to be "the good girl" and "the bad girl". This is a serious problem, because neither girl is being honest about who they actually are. Maya pushes away "good" elements of her personality, and Riley will push away "bad" elements of her personality.
Neither Riley nor Maya can grow unless they acknowledge both sides, which brings us to Girl Meets True Maya and Girl Meets the Real World/Sassy Haltertop.
In Girl Meets True Maya, Maya discovers that her friends and family expect her to do bad things. She rebels against that, and she discovers that she does have hope.
In Girl Meets Real World, Riley discovers that her friends and family expect her to do good things. She rebels against that and discovers that she has the ability to choose.
These episodes are very important for both characters' self discovery. Riley and Maya have finally acknowledged the other side. but they're still stuck in that dynamic, because they still make choices based on those expectations.
So both of these girls may be best friends, but they are not aware of the negative influence they have on each other.
Girl Meets Rules demonstrates that Riley and Maya are two sides of the same coin. The class believes this and acts accordingly. Some kids go with Riley, and some kids go with Maya. But Farkle's choice is very important in that episode.
Farkle says that he can't choose between Riley and Maya because life with Riley would be sunshine and rainbows, while life with Maya would be anger and heavy metal. He chooses to go with Maya at first, but he complains that "no one" is there to see that he is cool. When the only one that wasn't there out of the main cast is Riley. The kids acknowledge that they need balance and decide to go steal a good kid.
While this goes on, Riley is playing a game of duck, duck, goose, and she's too nice to make anyone the goose. But, when the boys capture her, she replaces Maya's leadership and brings their "humanity" back from their "wildness" (visually, anyway).
When Maya is left with the good kids, they beg her to teach them how to be like her. They want to be "cool". Maya leads them in a rampage down the hall before returning to the classroom.
Both girls acted on their "expected" image at first, but when they addressed the other side, they influenced the good and bad sides of the class.
This shows that they have the potential to be a good influence on each other, but they are currently too focused on their relationship to make that happen.
So, now we go to the line that Cory says when Lucas walks in the door: "History says that bad things happen when you don't know who you are."
Maya pushed Riley towards Lucas. Riley was not herself. Maya was not herself. Riley was trying to be Maya. Maya was trying to give Riley the best.
But Farkle's influence is the most effective on their dynamic. He convinced them that they are "good" and "bad". They fell for that concept. The worst part is, Farkle doesn't realize what he has done. And, he doesn't realize that by creating a concept, he pushed his own role out of the story.
He was "looking through a microscope. he wanted to give them equal value and stuck with the logic that Riley and Maya are two different elements: night and day, dark and light. But what's actually going on is revealed in his debate in Girl Meets the Real World.
(Picture courtesy of theowldectective ^_^)
"The sun shines at night, just not on us."
Riley is the sun. Riley's trying to be Maya. The real reason Farkle cannot choose between them, and the real reason Lucas had trouble choosing between them at first, is because Riley is not being Riley.
And that brings us to Girl Meets Yearbook, an episode that focuses on the lesson that you shouldn't allow people's opinion to change who you are.
Farkle changes first, becoming "Donnie Barnes: Regular guy".
Why does he change? Because he doesn't like the role he has in the story currently. He's very upset by what people think of him. Riley is next because the class doesn't see her as the best girl for Lucas. They chose Maya. Riley doesn't like that Maya is accepted, but she isn't. She creates Morotia M Black, based on the "darker" side of her personality. Her alias isn't accepted by anyone, except Farkle/Donnie Barnes. Riley's transformation to Morotia influences Maya to become "Riley". Lucas gets very upset about this.
Now, all of these personas are exaggerated forms of the side that the kids don't acknowledge about themselves. Farkle wants to be "normal" Riley wants to be "bad" and Maya wants to be "Riley".
They become these personas to rebel the expectations of people around them. This is also a negative influence.
An important note is that both Riley and Farkle accept Morotia M Black and Donnie Barnes, but no one else does.
Both Donnie Barnes and Morotia M Black want to play by their own rules. But, Riley and Farkle allow the expectations of others to influence them too much.
Once they are true to themselves, then Maya will be true to herself, and Lucas will be true to himself.
Riley needs to be Riley. Once she is honest about who she is, all of these expectations and influences won't matter anymore. She will make decisions on her own, but she needs to be away from Maya to do that. And, Maya needs time away from Riley to discover what she wants.
This is the entire subtext of Girl Meets Belief.
Maya and Riley are at odds with each other, because both of them are allowing Farkle's influence that Maya is "bad" and Riley is "good" to dictate what they believe. They are partners in the assignment, but it doesn't go well. Then they switch. Maya goes with Farkle, and Riley goes with Lucas.
Now, Farkle does whatever Maya wants, so nothing gets done on the assignment. Riley and Lucas both completely agree with each other, so they ask "why do I need you?" Neither one of them as anything to benefit the project.
Then, they switch again. And Riley and Maya are themselves, without any influence.
Riley's observant perspective helps Farkle broaden his horizons. Farkle helps Riley acknowledge the facts.
Maya asks Lucas what makes him believe what he believes. Lucas helps Maya learn to "listen" to herself. To quiet down.
Both pairs work, because all the kids are being true to who they are at that moment.
None of the kids are allowing someone's opinion to dictate what they decide. All the kids have positively influenced each other.
The influence that these characters have on each other is only beneficial when they are being who they are. Any other form of influence is an effort to control people.
That is why Auggie's influence on Smackle and Farkle didn't work, and why he failed to force Maya and Riley to get along in the Halloween World. He was trying to control them and force them to be what he wanted them to be.
But Lucas's influence, was more successful.
It starts when he asks Maya if she is as tough as she appears to be. Then, he gives Riley very good advice, to stand up for herself. Once she does, Auggie comes back and the world returns to the way it should be. Because Riley was being true to who she was.
Riley influences Cory to believe that people change people, because Riley is the one with the potential to be herself.
Farkle has that same potential, which is why both Riley and Farkle need to find their stories. Otherwise, "we don't stand a chance." They need to stand up to the influence and decide who they want to be without worrying what others think of them.
When everyone is true to who they are, they can contribute to a relationship with a positive influence. They will influence each other naturally, by being who they truly are.