When I was growing up, Topanga Lawrence of Boy Meets World was my hero. She was smart, funny, strong, and so wonderfully sure of herself. Even now that I'm an adult, Topanga is still my hero. Watching her grow up was an inspiring experience from start to finish, and seeing her on the Disney Channel's revival of the series, Girl Meets World, as a lawyer/small business owner/mother of two/still the smartest person in the room is so satisfying. If you're anything like me, welcome — and also, before you do anything else there is one Boy Meets World episode you as a Topanga fan need to watch and/or re-watch. That episode? None other than Season 6's "Resurrection."
"Resurrection" is the second half of a special two-part episode chronicling the struggles of the Matthews' family after the early birth of Cory, Eric, and Morgan's little brother Joshua. The episode takes place almost entirely in the hospital as the family waits for news on whether or not Joshua will pull through. It is crazy emotional for so many reasons, but as much as the episode is devoted to each family member's reaction to Joshua's struggle, it's ultimately Topanga's journey that resonates the most.
Topanga went through some major transformations on Boy Meets World. She was introduced as a free-spirited, young feminist with crimped hair and a new age attitude her classmates thought was weird. However, she owned all the things that made her unique, and Cory fell for her because of them. Life has a way of making people grow up and change whether they want to or not, though, and Topanga eventually became hyper-focused on academic success, lost her new age philosophies, and became the mature yen to Shawn and Cory's childish yang.
The evolution of Topanga was beautiful. She never lost herself — she simply evolved as life dealt her new challenges. However, in the face of the harsh reality of possibly losing his baby brother, Cory did not want rational, serious Topanga — he wanted the daydreamer, the free spirit, the girl who put lipstick on her face and danced around his kitchen. He wanted a Topanga who would tell him his baby brother would be OK, even though she could not possibly know if he would be. Topanga should never have to change for Cory, of course, but what "Resurrection" does is acknowledge all the ways Topanga changed since the series began while also allowing her to realize she is still a dreamer at heart.
"Resurrection" is the exploration of two Topangas — the Topanga with the hippie roots and the Topanga who feels like she has to be a rock for the Matthews' family. Cory is almost petulant in his desire for the "old" Topanga to come back, but he is consumed by the fear he could lose his baby brother. Sitting in a hospital waiting room, he cannot handle harsh truths or reality. He needs to believe Joshua will be OK and life will return to normal — despite the odds being stacked against his baby brother — while Topanga wants him to face the real possibility life may never be the same for his family.
Over the course of six seasons, Topanga became a realist. She found it easier to face the world exactly as it was rather than imagine it as it could be. It's easy to see why Topanga embraced such a philosophy when you remember how often she had to balance out Cory, who possessed a beautiful, childlike optimism.
Eventually, the episode sees Topanga resurrecting her old self, and remembering the good things about the Topanga who believed the universe would send good things her way. In the episode, she recreates the iconic scene where she put lipstick on her face, and she embraces both parts of herself — the realist and the dreamer. In realizing these two attitudes are not mutually exclusive, Topanga becomes an even more mature woman who is ready to be an adult.
The full circle nature of this episode makes it a can't miss for Topanga fans. This is the moment Topanga realizes she doesn't have to choose between these two important aspects of herself. She can be strong, but still give Cory hope. She can dance around a kitchen with lipstick on her face without losing any of her drive. She can be an adult without completely casting off her childhood self.
"Resurrection" is the episode where Topanga becomes the absolute best version of herself — and since this is her I'm talking about, that truly is something magical to behold.
Images: ABC; Giphy (3)