Let’s start with the good things about this episode: It’s the Mr. Turner years (arguably the show’s peak). Bad things about this episode: Cory is a real jerk!
The premise of this episode is that the girls must ask the boys to a dance (but it’s “turnaround” because I guess Sadie Hawkins was trademarked?) and anyway is this even a thing that still happens? It’s like very binary and heteronormative and, as Topanga thankfully points out, “destructive gender-biased thinking and we have to get beyond that.” But she’s going Christmas shopping with her dad so she can’t go to the dance anyway.
While fantasizing about being asked to the dance by the most attractive girl in the class, Cory accidentally says yes to a girl, named Ingrid, who is not conventionally attractive. And then he reacts by being a realllll jackass about it. Luckily, his dad catches him trying out shitty monologues for backing out of his date and tells him that he needs to go with the girl he already promised to go out with.
Eric (before the incident that turned him into a very different character) explains to Cory a more selfish angle — if he ditches this girl then no girl will ever go out with him because they’ll all know he’s a total dipshit.
Oh and by the way, Mr. Turner is teaching Pygmalion. I forgot just exactly how on the nose this show could be. Shawn, who is apparently listening in class for once, decides that he needs to give her a makeover just like “in the Pig Play” (so yeah he’s only kind of listening).
Meanwhile, Mr. Turner is a little stressed cause he’s hoping the hot lady teacher (who I think we’ve only seen this one time) will be his chaperone date (since when do chaperones have dates?) and honestly I’m not sure why we’re supposed to care? Who was this plot aimed at? Babysitters? I think if the kid is old enough to watch Boy Meets World, then you can just sit at the kitchen table and paint your nails for thirty minutes.
Based on horrible, horrible representations of women in magazines, Shawn decides that the newly made over Ingrid (who—spoiler not spoiler alert— it turns out is very conventionally attractive) is STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH. He decides to reinvent her personality as well. (Excuse me, I need to take a vomit break). Now she must say she’s from Sweden (where her extended family lives).
Oh my God this is truly, truly painful. I hope Gen Z saves us from this millennial shame. I’m really not proud of how the older millennials and younger Gen Xers (or to be fair the older Gen Xers and Boomers writing these shows) portrayed teen years in the 90’s.
But thankfully KARMA makes itself available, God bless, and Ingrid ditches Cory because she is now too cool for him. Ugh wait karma in this show is A LIE because the most attractive girl from earlier asks Cory out as soon as Ingrid ditches him. WHAT IS HAPPENING? WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?
Ohhh wait it’s a trick. And honestly I’m kind of relieved? That’s weird. I feel bad that I’m relived because this is also AWFUL. But the girl (played by Marnette Peterson who you might recognize from That 70’s Show or Camp Nowhere) ditches Cory as soon as they get to the dance. She had ask Cory to the dance as a decoy because she’s dating someone she isn’t allowed to date. It’s still bad, but I just didn’t want Cory to win after he was such a jerk, so I’m going to table the whole backstory of the minor characters here and just move it along with the rest of the recap.
In other unhealthy relationship behaviors, it turns out the hot teacher was always going to ask out Mr. Turner (she told all of the other teachers not to ask him out) and she was just stringing him along because it amused her.
Sadly, Ingrid couldn’t hack it with the popular crowd. She decided to actually jump into the pool at the gym when everyone else was just talking about it. Actually, that does sound cool. But what do I know? Anyway, she comes crawling back to Cory for comfort. GOD THIS IS SO SAD. I WANT HER TO HAVE REAL FRIENDS.
But Cory apologizes (low bar). Ingrid says she didn’t feel bad at first for ditching him because she realized he was just using her (fair) but now that they both acknowledge that the other is a human being, she also wants to apologize.
Oh wait it turns out someone DOES think it’s cool that Ingrid jumped in the pool. (See, I knew it was cool.) So. Yeah. She ditches Cory again. I wish I could tell all these children it’s totally fine to just skip the dance and not subject yourself to people who treat you like shit. This blatant social climbing is a lot. It does get better than your teen years, thankfully.
Very Special Holiday Lesson: This is clearly the worst holiday episode ever. I’m glad I coincidentally scheduled it first, so it only gets better from here people!! At least the holiday photo screen freeze at the end is kind of cute:
Also, since Cory got ghosted at the Christmas dance, I feel that this is the perfect opportunity to tell you that I have revived a series I did back in 2014 called “Boy Meets Sweet Valley High.” I used to make them with a printer and a scanner like a real 90’s kid, but now I’ve gone high tech. Please follow me on insta @boymeetssvh