Boy Meets World is one of the iconic TV shows of our generation. It's wholesome but still funny, simple yet refined, silly yet heartfelt. A sitcom for teens that didn't involve seeing the future or magic and portrayed parents as actual parents, rather than punchlines.
Despite its admittedly numerous inconsistencies (the whole M.I.A./New Morgan debacle, Topanga's parents 2.0, and didn't Shawn have an alleged sister at some point early on?...), this show remains one of my favorites of all time.
One of the largest splotches on the otherwise beautiful tapestry of Boy Meets World, however, is the character-that-never-was, Jack Hunter.
He started out with potential. Really, he did.
Introducing new central characters is always risky, but Jack was a viable addition in the scheme of the overall story. Shawn's family history was still somewhat of a question mark to us, and his dad's lifestyle made a long-lost-half-brother totally believable. The addition of Jack threw yet another wrench in Shawn's broken conveyor belt of a life and also provided the ever-elusive best friend character for Eric.
PHASE 1 The first season Jack is pretty much just Matthew Lawrence (of Mrs. Doubtfire and Brotherly Love semi-fame). Innocent, just happy to be there. Trying to navigate how to relate to Shawn as the rich boy brother he never had. Not super dynamic, but enjoyable.
PHASE 2 The following year, it is obvious Jack has done a few push-ups over the summer, and we also meet Rachel. Rachel's presence polarizes Eric and Jack even further, pushing the gauge to 100% on Eric's transformation from 10th grade cool kid to complete idiot, and painting Jack as somewhat of a sensitive yet manly alternative by contrast.
Here is where BMW should have quit while they were ahead with Jack. I think this is the season where (spoiler alert) Shawn and Jack's dad dies (who to this day I still refer to as "Chet Hunter" whenever I see him in anything else). He plays that pretty well. He makes us laugh, he makes us cry, he plays the straight man to Eric's nonsense. Overall, it works.
PHASE 3 And then...then he starts going downhill. His biceps get bigger, his Philly accent gets thicker, and his shirts get tighter. He still has some good moments though, like the one where he and Eric decide to dress up as LaLa and Chantel to avoid getting their fingers eaten off by Crazy Luther (not to be confused with the stereo guy with LOW LOW prices).
PHASE MAYDAY-MAYDAY-GOING-DOWN In the final season, Jack hits rock bottom in terms of being an acceptable human being. He has degraded into nothing than a ripped, perfectly-groomed sidekick to Eric who just follows him around in and out of scenes, shaking his head disapprovingly and saying things like "Don't do it man, I'm beggin' ya..." while Eric silences him and does it anyway. Then more head-shaking. Really…go watch any given episode from the last season. It's his only move.
Though the show wants to portray Jack as the sensible one in contrast to Eric's buffoonery, they somehow also transform Jack into a somewhat-dumb, entitled, model-type with a gambling problem, which I suppose they derive from his rich lifestyle (which hadn't seemed to affect him negatively until now). He gets cut off from his stepdad and loses everything and has a poorly acted meltdown in the middle of the student union.
Side note: To this day I don't know if he was saying "um-jack.com" or "i'm-jack.com" when referring to his new business venture in the last season, but it made about zero point zero sense.
I don't know, guys. I just don't know what happened to ol' Jack. Maybe his muscles grew so much they just started engulfing his brain. Maybe it was the fumes from the hair gel. (Remember when hair gel was a thing?) Maybe the producers couldn't afford to pay Matthew Lawrence enough to justify him having to learn more than 2 lines per episode.
I guess we'll never know. But what we do know is that Matthew Lawrence faded into obscurity, yet still more respectable than his older brother Joey who is currently featured on an ABC Family sitcom with Mellissa Joan Hart (worse than obscurity), and not as respectable as the youngest Lawrence brother, Andy, who is doing something normal with his life, probably.
What's your favorite Boy Meets World moment? (You know you have one.)