Field Guide to Topanga Lawrence
I personally went through a lot of changes between the years 1993 and 2000. I went from being in third grade to being in tenth grade. That’s a big time period. But one constant was Topanga Lawrence from Boy Meets World.
Now, obviously Boy Meets World seemed a little childish to me by the time I was 13 or so, but I’m nothing if not dedicated to my TV shows, and I kept watching TGIF for the duration. (It did help that my brother is five years younger, so I could always claim to be watching “for” him.) I stuck with it because I love Topanga.
With the announcement of the new series Girl Meets World, I know the gang at Boy Meets World – as well as my personal crush, Rider Strong – have been on everyone’s mind. But today, as I was back in my adolescence, I am focused on Topanga Lawrence.
Name: Topanga Lawrence-Matthews (Though they’re referring to her as Topanga Matthews on Girl Meets World, it seems!)
The character of Topanga was apparently named something else originally and then one of the writers was stuck in traffic (LA, am I right?) and saw a sign for Topanga Canyon and went with that name instead. Amazing.
Relationship: Married to Cory Matthews.
Natural Habitat: As close to Cory Matthews as possible. They’ve been friends their entire lives and finally started dating in season three of the show. They broke up three times but always found their way back to each other. (I was always particularly destroyed by the break up at the ski lodge when he kissed another girl . Also, ski lodges on school trips seemed like a thing I’d definitely get to do and all I had was non-overnight “Ski Club” trips after school. Boring.)
Identifying Characteristics (personality): Topanga comes from hippie parents who she calls by their first names (or at least addresses her dad by his first name):
Topanga: Cory, I got Jedediah to drive me to your house after school.
Cory: Who’s Jedediah?
Topanga: My father.
Cory: Wait. You call your father Jedediah?
Topanga: That’s his name. What do you call your father?
Cory: Well, like a lot of normal people, I refer to him as Dad.
Topanga: Well, then how do you tell him apart from all the other dads?
She has always marched to the beat of her own drum, even meditating in class. Topanga is always very self-confident and very self assured. She knows who she is and she owns it.
Identifying Characteristics (Appearance): Long, amazing hair. Seriously. I remember reading in some teen magazine that Danielle Fishel did her own hair and being speechless. (I can’t find evidence of this article but Pre-Teen Erin remembers it vividly, so I hope it’s true.)
Topanga: Why do you care so much what other people think? When people laugh at you, they’re depleting their own karmic reservoir.
Obviously, I found the episode where she hacks at her hair with scissors particularly traumatic. Remember how Topanga has hippie roots and everything? So she was making a point about appearances not mattering (a valiant effort – and probably easier to do when you look like her) and then ended up with her beautiful hair destroyed.
Of course I love her for more than just her hair, but I just remember thinking, “She is awesome. I would NEVER do that.”
Now, Cory and Topanga got into some tough scrapes over the years (he kissed someone else, he got drunk, they broke up a few times) but they saved themselves for marriage. One of my favorite scenes is when Topanga wants him to share a toothbrush with her and he says he won’t do it until she shows him her butt.
There is something I find so sweet about him just wanting to LOOK at her butt, you know? Now, there’s lots of stuff that is crazy about Cory and Topanga’s relationship but I’m mostly on board with them (even though she turned down Yale to be with him, like, at least they moved to NYC for her in the end).
And I can’t wait to see them together again.