The Ridiculous Storyline of Topanga’s Parents’ Divorce

Topanga’s parents’ divorce is one of the most absurd storylines in Boy Meets World history. Topanga’s father, Jedediah Lawrence, was prominently featured in Season 2 and portrayed as a hippie musician who built guitars for a living.

While her mother, Rhiannon, had never appeared on screen before Season 6, she was referenced as having a similar worldview to her husband, Jedediah. Throughout Seasons 1 and 2, the Lawrence family were considered hippies.

As the Topanga character became less of an outcast, references to her family were both diminished and altered compared to earlier seasons. By Season 4, Topanga’s parents had moved to Pittsburgh and were now portrayed as typical 90s parents.

Despite various references to Topanga’s parents, neither character appears on screen again until Season 6, Episode 22: State of the Unions, when they visit Philadelphia after Cory and Topanga’s engagement.

This episode is the origin of the divorce storyline and Topanga’s temporary decision to call off her marriage to Cory. Jedediah is now played by a different actor and displays unrecognizable qualities from his previous character.

While this episode represents Rhiannon’s first-ever on-screen appearance, her character also seems inconsistent with her previously established persona. This sudden shift in Topanga’s family paradigm both confuses and insults the viewers.

The couple argues over Jedediah’s mockery of Alan’s Johnny Carson impression and his admiration of the canceled sitcom ALF. The one-time luthier even criticizes the TV show Ally McBeal for being too progressive.

Topanga soon realizes that the quibble is more than an isolated incident, and Jedediah admits to a pending divorce. Topanga grows so distraught over her parent’s divorce that she calls off her wedding with Cory.

Casting Changes to Topanga’s Parents in Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World is notorious for continuity errors, including frequently replacing existing characters with new actors. As a result, the series uses three different actors for Jedediah Lawrence and two for his wife, Rhiannon.

Seasons 2-3

Peter Tork first appears as Jedediah in Season 2, Episode 22: Career Day, when he presents to Cory and Topanga’s class as a Luthier (a guitar maker). Topanga’s father even claims to have recently constructed a guitar for Bruce Springsteen. 

Tork, formerly a member of the made-for-tv band The Monkees, would go on to reprise his role in Season 3 when he performed live music at Chubbie’s for Alan and Amy’s anniversary party along with other former members of The Monkees.

Seasons 6-7

The guitar-making hippie Tork portrayed was a far cry from what the character would become by Season 6 when he was recast as Michael McKean. In an odd twist, McKean portrayed Jedediah as an out-of-shape white-collar narcissist.

Meanwhile, Annette O’Toole is cast as Rhiannon for the same Season 6 episode, only to be replaced by Marcia Cross just two episodes later in Season 7, Episode 2: For Love and Apartments.

To make matters worse (or better?), Jedediah was recast for a third time as Mark Harelik in the same episode. The reasons for recasting both parents in a three-episode span remain unclear, but it is unsurprising in the context of the series.

Jedediah Lawrence’s Role in His Divorce

We learn in Season 7 that Jedediah is the perpetrator of Topanga’s parents’ separation, as he cheated on his wife, Rhiannon, with a woman named Marie.

While Jed fails to outright admit to his extramarital affair, he opts not to deny it when his wife outs him to Cory and Shawn, who visit Pittsburgh in an attempt to reunite Topanga’s parents.

It’s clear from the Season 6 finale that Jedediah finds his wife to be condescending and argumentative and disapproves of her admiration for the TV show Ally McBeal.

Rhiannon Lawrence’s Role in Her Divorce

It becomes clear that Rhiannon is a victim in her marital demise, as she remained faithful to Jedediah despite his transgressions.

Of course, some might fault her for scolding her husband in public, including when Jedidah mocks Alan Matthews’s Johnny Carson impression. In the same episode, Rhannon makes fun of Jedediah’s admiration for the sitcom ALF.

However, it appears that their divorce was already in motion before the arguments in the Matthews’ living room. However, Rhiannon establishes herself as the more mature person and convinces Topanga not to let the divorce impact her marriage.

Final Thoughts on This Divorce Storyline

Jedediah and Rhinnaon’s divorce is one of the worst storylines in Boy Meets World history.

While some fans argue that casting changes were normal in the 90s since people did not binge-watch shows, they are giving the show’s decision-makers a pass that they don’t deserve.

Continually changing the actor portraying Jedeidah, including doing it twice in a three-episode span, reflected poorly on the series and its producers.

Aside from the utter disregard for their viewer’s intelligence levels regarding cast changes, the storyline itself was atrocious and not worthy of the legacy formed in the series’s earlier seasons.

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